US records 400,000 COVID-19 deaths as it continues to slow-walk its vaccination drive

US records 400,000 COVID-19 deaths as it continues to slow-walk its vaccination drive
President-elect Joe Biden rolls up his sleeve to receive a COVID-19 vaccination in Newark, Delaware.Photo by Joshua Roberts/Getty Images
  • Four hundred thousand people in the US have died of COVID-19 as of Tuesday, according to trackers from NBC News and Worldometer.
  • The news comes as the US struggles to come anywhere near the vaccination targets set by the federal government before the approval of the Pfizer vaccine in December 2020.
  • Experts have blamed the poor performance on a lack of federal response, underfunded state medical departments, and mixed messaging.
  • On Monday, California also became the first state to pass 3 million deaths.

The US passed 400,000 COVID-19 deaths on Tuesday, according to trackers from NBC News and Worldometer.

The news comes as many states struggles to vaccinate people in line with government targets, and follows news on Monday that California had become the first US state to pass 3 million cases.

A year on from the start of the pandemic, the US remains the world's worst-affected country by a substantial margin.
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And despite developing coronavirus vaccines in record time last year, the US's efforts to vaccinate its population have been patchy and stunted.

President Donald Trump's administration launched "Operation Warp Speed" in May 2020 to help develop a vaccine, and planned to administer it to 100 million people within 100 days after it was approved.

However, fewer than 12 million people were inoculated in the first 30 days.
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The government had also planned to administer a first shot of the vaccine to 20 million people by the end of 2020. As of Monday, 12.3 million people have received a first dose, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Read more: Why America's vaccine rollout was a total disaster - and what it means for the next few months 80349246
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"The US was supposed to be the most prepared country for a pandemic. And we are doing the worst - that is shocking," Scott McNabb, a professor of public health at Emory University who previously worked at the CDC, recently told Insider.

Experts have blamed the substandard roll out on a lack of preparedness and states being left to fend for themselves.

"There's no federal response," Dr. Peter Hotez, a professor of pediatrics, molecular virology, and microbiology at Baylor College of Medicine, previously told Insider.
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"The states never had the intellectual horsepower and ability to manage something this ambitious. There are times when you need federal intervention."

As Insider's Aria Bendix previously reported, many states have understaffed or underfunded health departments, meaning they do not have the capability to roll out vaccines in line with government goals.

Some states have already administered all their vaccine doses, such as West Virginia, but states like Alabama have fallen far short of their goals.
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"We absolutely acknowledge that we need to be doing this faster," Dr. Scott Harris, Alabama's public-health officer, said last week.

More than 24 million Americans have been infected with COVID-19 since the pandemic began in early March 2020, according to a tracker from Johns Hopkins University.

Editor's note: this article was updated shortly after publication to clarify that California had passed 3 million cases of COVID-19 on Monday, not 3 million deaths.
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