Lifestyle Health 6 Million People Have Died from COVID Worldwide as Pandemic Enters Its Third Year The United States is nearing 1 million reported deaths, according to data released by Johns Hopkins University By Stephanie Wenger Stephanie Wenger Instagram Twitter Stephanie Wenger is a TV Writer/Reporter at PEOPLE. She joined the brand in 2021 as digital news writer, spanning across the site's verticals. She previously contributed to E! Online, HollywoodLife, Discover Los Angeles, Oscar.com and Hollywood.com. She appeared on air at AfterBuzz TV. She began her journalism career as an intern at Good Morning America and Access Hollywood. She graduated from Boston University with a Bachelor's in communications and received a Master's in journalism from the University of Southern California. People Editorial Guidelines Published on March 7, 2022 07:32 PM Share Tweet Pin Email Photo: Getty Images The COVID-19 global death toll has surpassed 6 million as the pandemic enters its third year, according to data released by Johns Hopkins University. On its own, the United States is nearing 1 million reported deaths. The milestones come after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention dropped their nationwide mask recommendation last month and is instead leaving the decision up to local governments, advising only those with high COVID-19 transmission levels to retain their mask mandates. CDC Dropping Nationwide Mask Recommendation with Most of the U.S. at 'Low or Medium' COVID Spread "The idea we would get to 6 million is really inconceivable when I think back to two years ago," Mitchell Warren, executive director of AVAC, told The Washington Post. "Everything that has happened in the last 12 months, though, is a marker of our inability of translating the remarkable scientific progress, the remarkable product development into impact." Experts note the 6 million total is likely an undercount, the Associated Press reports. "Confirmed deaths represent a fraction of the true number of deaths due to COVID, mostly because of limited testing, and challenges in the attribution of the cause of death," Edouard Mathieu, head of data for Our World in Data, told the AP. Queen Elizabeth Meets with Justin Trudeau for First In-Person Engagement Since COVID Recovery He added, "In some, mostly rich, countries, that fraction is high and the official tally can be considered to be fairly accurate, but in others it is highly underestimated." Currently, Asia and Eastern Europe are being hit hardest as the omicron variant's impact arrived later in those areas, according to Jennifer Nuzzo, a professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories. She added that Hong Kong's health care system is being overwhelmed by the current COVID wave. "I think there's a real danger in getting complacent about it, and there's a risk that as the numbers pile up, you begin to see them as just numbers as opposed to human lives lost," Nuzzo told The Washington Post. New York to Lift Statewide Mask Mandate for Schools amid Declining COVID Cases, New CDC Guidelines Global vaccine equity continues to be a factor in the death toll. Only 13.6 percent of people in low-income countries have received at least one dose, according to Our World in Data. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 76.5 percent of the U.S. population had received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, and 65 percent had received a full course of the vaccine. As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from the CDC, WHO and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a GoFundMe.org fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.