More COVID-19 deaths worldwide have already been reported in 2021 than in all of 2020

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FILE – In this Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021 file photo, pharmacy technician Sochi Evans fills a syringe with a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at Texas Southern University in Houston. Coronavirus cases are continuing to decline in the U.S. after a winter surge. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University say the seven-day average of new coronavirus cases in the country dropped below 100,000 on Friday, Feb. 12 for the first time since November 4. (Brett Coomer/Houston Chronicle via AP, File)

More people worldwide have died of COVID-19 so far this year than during all of last year, according to data tallied by Johns Hopkins University. So far, 3.77 million deaths have been reported since the pandemic began — with 1.89 million reported in 2021 exceeding the 1.88 million deaths counted as of December 31, 2020.

While the true toll of the pandemic last year may have been far higher — in part the result of data lags, missed cases, and incomplete reporting — the figure serves as a stark reminder of the raging pandemic that continues to claim millions of lives around the world, even as vaccinations have arrested the worst of the disease’s spread in the U.S. To date, a total of nearly 600,000 deaths have been reported in the U.S.

Worldwide, an average of more than 9,000 deaths from COVID-19 are still being confirmed daily. That rate of newly reported deaths has steadily declined from its last peak in April, but remains higher than record daily tolls from November of last year.

Cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are also climbing inside many countries. The World Health Organization warned this week that the Western Pacific region, which encompasses Asia, had again recorded its highest incidence of deaths to date.

“Increasingly, we see a two-track pandemic. Many countries still face an extremely dangerous situation, while some of those with the highest vaccination rates are starting to talk about ending restrictions,” World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters on Monday.

Public health officials have repeatedly warned world leaders against prematurely easing COVID-19 restrictions over the past weeks, citing concerns over a surge in new fast-spreading strains of the virus. The White House also raised concerns Tuesday over recent data suggesting vaccines were significantly less effective after one dose against the B.1.617.2 variant first identified in India. President Biden’s chief medical adviser, Dr. Anthony Fauci, urged Americans to “make sure you get that second dose.”

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