US nears grim milestone of 500,000 coronavirus deaths

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

Signs of hope are 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, says on NBC’s “Meet The Press.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks with reporters at the White House, in Washington, January 21, 2021. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

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

Fauci notes that the number of daily new infections is on a steep decline after peaking in January, but he adds that 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 says in an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

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