US Covid-19 death toll surpasses that of 1918 flu pandemic

Current pandemic now ranks second in country's history of mass casualty events

A woman sits on a bench at a public art installation near the Washington Monument.  AFP
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The US reached another grave Covid-19 milestone on Monday, with the death toll surpassing that of the 1918 flu pandemic.

A widely referenced database from Johns Hopkins University shows that the number of deaths from Covid-19 now number 675,446.

In addition to the high death tally, the US also leads the world in recorded infections.

“The number of reported deaths from Covid in the US will surpass the toll of the 1918 flu pandemic this month,” tweeted Tom Frieden, the former director of the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last week.

“We cannot become hardened to the continuing, and largely preventable, tragedy.”

The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 675,000 people died during the two-year influenza pandemic that occurred between 1918 and 1919. Statistics from the event, however, are only rough numbers, largely due to the lack of organised records at the time.

It is also expected that the Covid-19 death count is an underestimate in the US and globally.

The US population, now at 332 million, was far lower a hundred years ago. Statistically, 1 in 150 people died from the 1918 flu in the US, The Washington Post reported, and currently, about 1 in 500 people has died from Covid-19.

Today, the country is reporting more than 1,300 daily deaths to the deadly virus, mostly among the unvaccinated.

It is difficult to compare the current pandemic to the one that occurred in 1918, however the connection is important, as both are among the most catastrophic mass casualty events in the nation's history.

The Covid-19 pandemic now stands behind the HIV/Aids pandemic, which has killed more than 700,000 people in the US.

Seen from atop the Washington Monument, people walk through the flags of the 'In America: Remember' public art installation near the Washington Monument on September 19, 2021 in Washington, DC.  AFP
Updated: April 27, 2022, 11:42 AM