from Pakistan

US nears 500,000 Covid deaths

The United States was on the brink Sunday of the grim milestone of 500,000 Covid-related deaths since the start of the pandemic, as the nation’s top virus expert warned a form of normalcy may not return until the end of the year.

Signs of hope were emerging in the rollout of vaccines and
the dropping off of a massive winter spike in infections, but the heavy toll
continues to mount in a nation that has reported the most fatalities and cases
in the world.

“It’s terrible. It is historic. We haven’t seen
anything even close to this for well over a hundred years, since the 1918
pandemic of influenza,” Anthony Fauci, chief medical advisor to US
President Joe Biden, said on NBC’s “Meet The Press.” 

“It’s something that is stunning when you look at the
numbers, almost unbelievable, but it’s true,” he added, as the toll on the
Johns Hopkins University tracking website stood at 497,600.

After the first Covid-19 death was announced in the US in
February 2020 it took about three months to pass the 100,000 mark, during a
first wave that hit New York particularly hard.

But as the outbreak grew in the United States the pace of
deaths increased, with the toll jumping from 400,000 in just over a month amid
a spike fueled in part by holiday gatherings.

Fauci noted that the number of daily new infections was on a
steep decline after peaking in January, but he added normal life may still be
some way off.

“I think we’ll have a significant degree of
normality… as we get into the fall and the winter, by the end of the
year,” Fauci said in an appearance on CNN’s “State of the

Biden said last week the program to deliver vaccines into
people’s arms is as complicated as the already intense challenges of
manufacturing them in huge quantities at speed.

“There has never, ever, ever been a logistical
challenge as consequential as what we’re trying to do, but we’re getting it
done,” he said.

According to Biden, his goal of administering a million
shots a day for a total of 100 million in the first 100 days of his presidency
is on track to be easily surpassed, with a current average of 1.7 million
vaccinations a day.

With the US death toll set soon to pass 500,000, Biden said
he did not want to give firm predictions of when the crisis will be curbed.

However, he said that 600 million doses — enough to provide
the two-dose regimen to most of the country — were expected to be ready by the
end of July.