COVID-19 deaths in the United States have climbed to an average of more than 1900 a day for the first time since early March, with experts saying the virus is preying largely on a distinct group: 71 million unvaccinated Americans.
The increasingly lethal turn has filled hospitals, complicated the start of the school year, delayed the return to offices and demoralised health care workers.
The nation was stunned back in December when it was witnessing 3000 deaths a day. But that was when almost no one was vaccinated.
Now, nearly 64 per cent of the US population has received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
And yet, average deaths per day have climbed 40 per cent over the past two weeks, from 1387 to 1947, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
Health experts say the vast majority of the hospitalised and dead have been unvaccinated. While some vaccinated people have suffered breakthrough infections, those tend to be mild.
The number of vaccine-eligible Americans who have yet to get a shot has been put at more than 70 million.
New cases of the coronavirus per day in the US have dropped since the start of September and are now running at about 139,000. But deaths typically take longer to fall because victims often linger for weeks before succumbing.