The United States has reached a grim milestone: More than 1 million Americans have now perished due to coronavirus since the pandemic began two years ago.
According to numbers compiled by NBC News, the one-millionth death from COVID-19 in the U.S. occurred Wednesday.
Other measures vary on where the U.S. officially stands on COVID-19 deaths — The New York Times, for example, places total deaths due to coronavirus as of this week at 995,000, while worldometers.com says 1.02 million people in the country have died so far from the virus.
Experts warn that these are conservative estimates and that the true death toll is probably much higher. Indeed, other figures have been revised this week, including the WHO’s estimate of global deaths due to COVID-19, which is now believed to be around 15 million,, a tripling of the organization’s previous figure.
NBC News’s figures indicate that the daily rate at which Americans are dying from the virus has slowed compared to what it’s been in recent weeks, but it still remains in the hundreds. As of right now, around 360 Americans die daily due to COVID-19.
The U.S. is also ahead of every other country in the world, in terms of the raw number of deaths it has seen since the pandemic began. Brazil, the country with the second-highest number of COVID-related deaths, has seen just over 660,000 deaths recorded, NBC News reported.
Study after study has concluded that many of the coronavirus deaths in the U.S. could have been avoided through public health measures.
The virus itself was politicized, in many ways, by far right figures and former President Donald Trump, who continuously downplayed the significance of the virus as his administration disseminated conflicting accounts over the pandemic. Trump, who sought reelection in 2020, saw the practice of mask-wearing to limit the spread of the virus as an affront to his presidency, and peddled fraudulent COVID-19 treatments that many of his supporters continue to promote.
Trump’s actions bred public distrust over the efficacy of vaccines. According to a recent Economist/YouGov poll, the total number of Americans receiving at least three shots of a vaccine so far — indicating they’ve received a booster shot since completing their original vaccine series — is 55 percent. Among self-identified liberals in the poll, that number is much higher, at 68 percent; among conservatives, however, it’s lower, at 50 percent.
But skepticism among conservatives isn’t the only reason why the coronavirus pandemic has been especially bad in the U.S., compared to other countries. The for-profit health care system in the country, too, has been credited with being largely responsible for many avoidable deaths in the U.S., as a more equitable system of health care (such as a single-payer model) could have helped more people survive the pandemic.
According to a report from The Lancet last year, nearly 40 percent of COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. could have been avoided, had a better health care system been in place before the pandemic started and disinformation about the virus from the former president and others been limited.