The United States has arrived at the grim milestone of 600,000 deaths attributed to COVID-19.
The U.S. reached the 600,000 figure on Tuesday, according to Johns Hopkins University. In the last week, reported deaths have averaged about 362 per day.
“It was unimaginable a year and a half ago that we would reach this number,” said Dr. Manoj Jain, an infectious disease physician at the Rollins School of Public Health. “We initially thought it was going to be just like the flu.”
Since the first death from COVID-19 in the U.S. on Feb. 6, 2020, deaths have averaged over 1,200 daily. Daily deaths reached a high of 4,409 on Jan. 20 during the winter surge.
The winter surge was potent. It took barely a month to reach each new 100,000 mark. Deaths increased from 300,000 in late December to 400,000 in late January, reaching 500,000 in late February.
But in a sign that the coronavirus vaccine campaign is working, it has taken almost four months to go from 500,000 to 600,000.
Yet it is likely that the official number undercounts the true number of COVID-19 deaths. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that there have been 650,589 excess deaths due to the disease. In May, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington estimated based on a similar analysis of excess deaths that there were 905,298 deaths from COVID-19 in the U.S.