NBC News‘ tally of COVID deaths has officially hit 1 million, the highest official death toll of any country in the world.
The number was once unthinkable, slowly became inevitable and now is almost unremarkable as the daily specter of COVID-19 has become a grim reality for the many millions of Americans who have lost friends and family members to the pandemic.
America’s fight against COVID-19 has been hobbled by misinformation, as medical experts have expressed frustration and exhaustion with social media campaigns that have downplayed the risk of COVID-19 and cautioned against taking vaccines. That’s part of the reason the U.S. has suffered such a devastating death toll, and lags in 63rd place in the world for COVID-19 vaccinations.
Experts say it didn’t have to be like this. “All of this is a lesson for how a country that was considered the most prepared for an infectious disease emergency or a pandemic, even if they’ve got the greatest toolbox and the greatest minds … could still end up with a horrendous death toll,” Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security in Baltimore, told TODAY. “The number would be much higher if it were not for vaccines. … We would be in horrible shape.”