The US has surpassed 800,000 COVID-19 deaths amid Omicron variant spread and slowing vaccination rates

A clinician is looking over his tools while a nursing writes something down. Both are in full PPE. In the background is a COVID-19 patient.
Clinicians work after intubating a COVID-19 patient in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at Lake Charles Memorial Hospital on August 10, 2021 in Lake Charles, Louisiana.

  • More than 800,000 people have died of COVID-19 in the US as of Tuesday. 
  • This comes a day after the US surpassed 50 million infections — the highest number of cases in the world.
  • The tragic milestone comes as the Omicron variant spreads and only 61% of Americans are fully vaccinated.

More than 800,000 Americans have died from COVID-19, nearly two years since the onset of the pandemic.

As of Tuesday, 800,266 people have died in the US, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The milestone comes a day after the country surpassed 50 million COVID-19 infections — the highest number of cases than any country in the world.

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, despite the distribution of vaccines in the past year, more people have died from COVID-19 in 2021 than in 2020. In 2020, more than 385,000 COVID-19 deaths were reported in 2020, compared to more than 410,000 so far this year. 

Only 61% of the US population is fully vaccinated, and only 27.2% of those have gotten a booster shot, according to CDC data. 

Experts and several studies have said the majority of those who died from COVID-19 in recent months were unvaccinated. Kaiser Family Foundation and the Peterson Center on Healthcare found that 163,000 COVID-19 deaths could have been prevented by vaccination since June 2021. 

This comes as the Omicron variant was named a variant of concern by the World Health Organization last month. Researchers believe the variant is “highly transmissible,” according to a major study of Omicron in South Africa. There is also concern that it could be more resistant to protection provided by vaccines

However, so far most symptoms of those infected by the variant reported in the US have been less severe, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said last week. 

Experts, including top US infections disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci, are still encouraging Americans to get vaccinated or get their booster as added protection against the virus.

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