A new Johns Hopkins University data suggests that more than 900,000 people in the United States have died from COVID-19 infection since the pandemic started in 2020. Health authorities blame the latest Omicron variant for the spread of the disease and the casualties reported from it. Johns Hopkins said the new 900,000 death tolls is more than the population of Indianapolis, San Francisco, or Charlotte in North Carolina.
The dean of the school of public health at Brown University, Dr. Ashish K. Jha, said, although the rate of deaths increased after the deployment of coronavirus vaccines, he said no one would have believed two years ago that up to 900,000 people would die in the US within a space of two years. He blamed politics and unwillingness to get vaccinated as reasons for the death surge.
“We got the medical science right,” Jha said. “We failed on the social science. We failed on how to help people get vaccinated, to combat disinformation, to not politicize this. Those are the places where we have failed as America.”
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 212 million people, or 64% of Americans, are fully vaccinated.
Jha fears the death rate could hit 1 million by April. Officials report that more than 2,400 people still die from the viral disease every day in the US and that death tolls continue to rise in 35 states. The authorities said the spread of omicron seems to be dwindling, but it is possible that new variants emerge again in the near future.
“Post-surge does not imply that the pandemic is over or that transmission is low, or that there will not be unpredictable waves of surges in the future,” said Los Angeles County Public Health Director, Dr. Barbara Ferrer.
The death toll stood at around 300,000 when the COVID-19 vaccine launched in December 2020, and it grew to 600,000 by June 2021 and climbed to 700,000 by October last year. By December 2021, the death toll spiked to 800,000 and by early February 2022, it has reached 900,000.
Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein, a public health professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said the government underestimated the lethality of coronavirus and so were under-prepared to protect the people.
“We have underestimated our enemy here, and we have under-prepared to protect ourselves,” he said. “We’ve learned a tremendous amount of humility in the face of a lethal and contagious respiratory virus. We have been fighting among ourselves about tools that actually do save lives. Just the sheer amount of politics and misinformation around vaccines, which are remarkably effective and safe, is staggering.”