“Devastating.” “Tragic.” “Unthinkable.”
Those were some of the reactions Wednesday after NBC News reported that the number of deaths from Covid-19 in the United States has surpassed a million, less than a quarter of the way through the third year of the pandemic.
“This is far from over.”
While some case counters—such Johns Hopkins’ global tracker—still showed slightly lower figures on Wednesday, public health experts have long highlighted that the official numbers are lower than the true infections figures and death toll.
CNN noted last month that according to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington School of Medicine, “In the U.S., only 7% of positive cases are detected, which means that case rates are 14.5% higher than reported.”
Though the United States was widely expected to top one million deaths this month, “the fact that so many have died is still appalling,” Dr. Christopher Murray, who leads IHME, told NBC. He also emphasized that “this is far from over.”
The “gruesome milestone” comes as the White House pressures Congress to send legislation with new pandemic funding to President Joe Biden’s desk.
“The Biden administration is sounding the alarm for the urgent need for Congress to provide funding for the nation’s Covid-19 response and is underscoring the severe consequences of their inaction: Fewer vaccines, treatments, and tests for the American people, and fewer shots in arms around the world,” the White House said in a statement last week.
Earlier this year, Biden requested over $22 billion to battle the pandemic at home and abroad. However, congressional leaders ultimately cut all Covid-19 funding from a sweeping spending package to ensure its passage.
A month ago, Senate Majority Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) announced a $10 billion deal that was intended to boost vaccinations and testing nationwide but did not include any funds for global aid—which one policy expert called “a victory for the virus.” That agreement has since stalled in the Senate.
Even as the U.S. and other rich nations have faced criticism for hoarding Covid-19 vaccine doses and not doing enough to stand up to Big Pharma’s monopoly power, research has shown that hundreds of thousands of American lives could have been saved by vaccination.