Over 700,000 People in the U.S. Have Died From COVID, Death Toll Was 'Completely Avoidable'

More than 100,000 people have died in the last three months as the Delta variant consumes the nation, according to data from Johns Hopkins University

Louisiana Hospitals Face Surge Of Covid Cases As State Sees Record Number Of Cases
Photo: Mario Tama/Getty

Over 700,000 people in the United States have died from COVID-19 since the pandemic began.

Despite the availability of vaccines, the milestone was reached late Friday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Additionally, more than 100,000 people have died in the last three months as the Delta variant consumes the nation.

Dr. David Dowdy, an infectious disease epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told the Associated Press it's likely that 70,000 of the last 100,000 people to die from COVID-19 were unvaccinated. Those who died from breakthrough infections, he added, contracted it from an unvaccinated person.

"If we had been more effective in our vaccination, then I think it's fair to say, we could have prevented 90 percent of those deaths," Dowdy said of the data collected since mid-June.

According to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 55.8% of the nation's population (185.2 million people) are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, while 64.7% (214.9 million people) have received at least one shot.

Female doctor giving covid-19 vaccine to a boy
A young girl getting vaccinated. Getty

John Brownstein, Ph.D., an epidemiologist at Boston Children's Hospital and ABC News contributor, said the massive death toll is not only "tragic," but also was "completely avoidable."

"We had the knowledge and the tools to prevent this from happening, and unfortunately politics, lack of urgency and mistrust in science got us here," Brownstein told ABC News.

"The vast majority of deaths going forward will continue to be those that elected to delay vaccination," he added. "While the current downward trajectory of cases provides an optimistic outlook, this path will unfortunately continue to include tens of thousands of vaccine-preventable deaths."

All Americans age 12 and older are eligible to receive the COVID vaccine. Pfizer, which has received full approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Association for its vaccine for individuals age 16 and up, recently submitted initial trial data for kids age 5 to 11 and reported a "favorable safety profile and robust neutralizing antibody responses" in children while using a smaller dose.

More people in the United States have now died from COVID than the country's 675,000 deaths from the 1918 influenza epidemic, the AP reports.

According to recent data from the Rural Policy Research Institute, about 1 in 434 rural Americans have died of COVID, compared to roughly 1 in 513 Americans living in urban areas.

"There is a national disconnect between perception and reality when it comes to COVID in rural America," Alan Morgan, head of the National Rural Health Association, said last month. "We've turned many rural communities into kill boxes. And there's no movement towards addressing what we're seeing in many of these communities, either among the public or among governing officials."

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.

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