The US death toll from the coronavirus topped 300,000 Monday just as the country began dispensing COVID-19 shots in a monumental campaign to conquer the outbreak. The number of dead rivals the population of St. Louis or Pittsburgh, the AP reports. It is equivalent to repeating a tragedy on the scale of Hurricane Katrina every day for more than five months. It is more than five times the number of Americans killed in the Vietnam War. It is equal to a 9/11 attack every day for more than 100 days. "The numbers are staggering—the most impactful respiratory pandemic that we have experienced in over 102 years, since the iconic 1918 Spanish flu," Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious-disease expert, said days before the milestone.
The US crossed the threshold on the same day health care workers rolled up their sleeves for Pfizer's COVID-19 shot, marking the start of the biggest vaccination campaign in American history. If a second vaccine is authorized soon, as expected, 20 million people could be immunized by month’s end. The death toll was reported by Johns Hopkins University from data supplied by health authorities across the US. The real number of lives lost is believed to be much higher, in part because of deaths that were not accurately recorded as coronavirus-related during the early stages of the crisis. Globally, the virus is blamed for more than 1.6 million deaths. Experts say it could take well into spring for the shots and other measures to bring cases and deaths under control in the US.
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