That’s more than the population of Seattle (about 737,000), Denver (about 715,000), or Washington, D.C. (about 690,000). It’s roughly equivalent to all of Kansas City, Missouri, (about 508,000) and Pittsburgh (about 303,000) combined.
It’s also the highest confirmed death toll in the world by country. Brazil has the second-most confirmed deaths, with 616,457, and India is next with 475,636.
America’s elderly population has borne the brunt of the suffering. From the start of the pandemic, 75% of the deaths in the U.S. have been people 65 or older, according to a New York Times tracker; in all, 1 in 100 Americans over the age of 65 has died from COVID-19.
Many of the country’s COVID-19 deaths could have been avoided. Unvaccinated individuals have made up the vast majority of deaths since vaccines became widely available in the U.S. in the spring of 2021, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data shows.
At the peak of the delta variant surge in late August, unvaccinated people over the age of 80 were dying at a rate nearly six times higher than their vaccinated peers. And unvaccinated 65- to 79-year-olds were more than 23 times more likely to die than their vaccinated peers:
With 61% of the eligible U.S. population fully vaccinated and the highly mutated omicron variant spreading in the country, the number of deaths will likely continue to rise.
Dr. Vin Gupta, a critical care pulmonologist and affiliate associate professor at the University of Washington, told NBC News he expects the overall U.S. death toll from COVID-19 to surpass 1 million in 2022.
“That’s just the reality of the situation,” he said. “The same people who didn’t get an initial shot won’t get boosters. It’s a lot of preventable death.”