It’s as if the entire population of Delaware, Montana or Rhode Island, or all of Austin, vanished in just two years’ time.
The toll is based on death certificates but most experts believe it is an undercount given how many diagnoses were likely missed in the spring of 2020, when the virus was poorly understood and testing was scarce.
At that time, 1 million deaths seemed like a doomsday prediction, a disastrous forecast created by statistical models that assumed everything would go wrong.
“I’ve never seen a model of the diseases that I’ve dealt with where the worst-case scenario actually came out,” Anthony Fauci said in March 2020. “So when you use numbers like 1 million, 1.5 million, 2 million, that is almost certainly off the chart. Now, it’s not impossible but very, very unlikely.”
Fauci, at the time, predicted between 100,000 and 200,000 deaths, a figure that drew ridicule in the Trump administration for being overly pessimistic.
“It’s tragic. I’m pained by it, as a physician, a scientist and a public health official, to see that this country with all of our resources is going to wind up with more than a million deaths from this outbreak,” Fauci told POLITICO on Tuesday. “And many of those deaths could have been avoidable. There’s no doubt about that.”
Fauci added that he hopes this sobering milestone would “call attention” to the risks for unvaccinated people and prompt them to reconsider.
“If you look at the difference in hospitalization and death, between vaccinated and unvaccinated, you know this number screams out to us why we should be getting more people vaccinated,” he said.