The United States has recorded more than one million COVID-19 deaths, according to a Reuters tally, crossing a once-unthinkable milestone about two years after the first cases upended everyday life and quickly transformed it.
The one million mark is a stark reminder of the staggering grief and loss caused by the pandemic even as the threat posed by the virus wanes in the minds of many people. It represents about one death for every 327 Americans.
By the time the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared COVID-19 a global pandemic on March 11 2020, the virus had claimed 36 lives in the US.
In the months that followed, the deadly virus spread like wildfire, finding fertile ground in densely populated urban areas such as New York City and then reaching every corner of the country.
By June 2020 , the US death toll had surpassed the total of the country's military deaths in World War I and it would exceed the American military losses of War World II by January 2021 when more than 405,000 deaths were recorded.
The disease has left few places on Earth untouched, with 6.7 million confirmed deaths globally. The true toll, including those who died of COVID-19 as well as those who perished as an indirect result of the outbreak, was likely closer to 15 million, the WHO said.
With the COVID-19 threat subsiding after the Omicron wave last winter, many Americans have shed masks and returned to offices in recent weeks. Restaurants and bars are once again teeming with patrons, and the public's attention has shifted to inflation and economic concerns.
But researchers are already working on yet another booster shot as the virus continues to mutate.
"By no means is it over," said top US infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci at a recent event.
"We still are experiencing a global pandemic."
The precise toll of the pandemic may never be truly known. Some people who died while infected were never tested and do not appear in the data. Others, while having COVID-19, may have died for another reason, such as a cancer, but were still counted.
The CDC estimates that 1.1 million excess deaths have taken place since February 1, 2020, mainly from COVID-19. Excess mortality is the increase in total number of deaths, from any cause, compared with previous years.
Australian Associated Press
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.