Millions of Covid-19 vaccines are being administered each day around the world, but there is a long way to go before the suffering is over.
The front page of one of the world's most famous newspapers has put that grim reality into sharp focus.
The latest cover of the New York Times has provided a visual representation of the country's coronavirus death toll as the nation approaches half a million dead.
The US had one of the worst public responses to the pandemic, resulting in the one of the highest death rates on a per capita basis and the largest overall Covid death toll of any country.
According to official death counts, tallied by Johns Hopkins University, the US has more than twice as many dead as next worst hit Brazil at 245,977 and Mexico at 179,797. Australia has had 909 deaths from Covid-19.
In terms of global pandemic deaths, the US accounts for more than 20 per cent of the official 2.4m million deaths attributed to Covid-19.
In reacting to the Times front page, cardiologist and science writer Eric Topol, called it "unfathomable".
"Mostly preventable," he added.
The front page of The New York Times for Feb. 21, 2021, as the U.S. nears 500,000 dead from Covid-19. Each dot represents a life lost. pic.twitter.com/YAAEvQIszZ
— The New York Times (@nytimes) February 21, 2021
In a single year, "more Americans have perished from Covid-19 than on the battlefields of World War I, World War II and the Vietnam War combined," The New York Times pointed out.
Speaking to CNN Sunday (local time), White House Covid-19 medical adviser Dr Anthony Fauci said the country will continue to struggle in the months ahead.
“It’s nothing like we’ve ever been through in the last 102 years since the 1918 influenza pandemic... It really is a terrible situation that we’ve been through – and that we’re still going through,” he said.
US 'not out of the woods yet'
Hospitalisations and new infections in the US have been strongly trending down for the past five weeks as the country appears to have seen through the worst of the pandemic and vaccines are rolled out.
More than 28 million cases have been recorded in the past year, but daily average deaths and hospitalisations have fallen to the lowest levels since before the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.
While the decline “is really terrific ... we are still at a level that’s very high,” Dr Fauci said in a separate interview on NBC News.
“We want to get that baseline really, really, really low before we start thinking that we’re out of the woods.”
Dr Fauci warned Americans may still need masks in 2022 even as other measures to stop the virus’ spread become increasingly relaxed and more vaccines are administered, and they may need a booster shot depending on how variants emerge.
Less than 15 per cent of the US population has received at least one vaccine dose, with nearly 43 million getting at least one shot and nearly 18 million getting a second shot, government statistics show.
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