The US has the highest number of coronavirus deaths in the world as it passes a grim 200,000 milestone, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
More than 6.8 million cases have been reported across the US since the outbreak began.
The Maryland-based university recorded 200,005 deaths and 6,861,211 cases as of Tuesday – more than eight months after the first known coronavirus death was reported in the US in February.
The latest official data comes just six weeks before the presidential election and the real number of fatalities is thought to be much higher due to many COVID-19 deaths attributed to other causes, particularly in the early stages of the pandemic.
An average of 770 people have died from the disease every day over the past eight months – many of those dying without loved ones in hospital rooms.
Meanwhile, countless other victims did not have a properly funeral, with services carried out online.
“It is completely unfathomable that we’ve reached this point,” said Jennifer Nuzzo, a Johns Hopkins University public health researcher.
COVID-19 is now the second-leading cause of death in the US after heart disease, according to the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME).
The number of dead is equivalent to a 9/11 attack every day for 67 days, and it continues to climb.
A widely cited model from the University of Washington predicts the US toll will double to 400,000 by the end of the year as schools and colleges reopen and cold weather sets in.
A vaccine is also unlikely to become widely available until 2021.
“The idea of 200,000 deaths is really very sobering, in some respects stunning,” Dr Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious-disease expert, said on CNN.
In an interview with a Detroit TV station on Tuesday, President Donald Trump boasted of doing an “amazing” and “incredible” job against the virus.
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He also demanded that Beijing be held accountable for having “unleashed this plague onto the world” in a pre-recorded speech to the UN General Assembly.
China’s ambassador rejected the accusations as baseless.
Mr Trump’s political rival, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, said on Twitter: “It didn’t have to be this bad.
“It’s a staggering number that’s hard to wrap your head around,” he said. “There’s a devastating human toll to this pandemic – and we can’t forget that.”
America has led the world by far in numbers of confirmed infections. Brazil is second with around 137,000 deaths, followed by India with approximately 89,000 and Mexico with approximately 74,000.