Despite the fact that half a million people have died from COVID-19 since the omicron strain of the coronavirus was discovered in November, President Joe Biden’s top medical adviser claims the US is no longer in “full-blown pandemic phase” of the coronavirus epidemic.

It’s a grim statistic, and it serves as a reminder of the pandemic’s enduring toll, even as cases in nearly every U.S. state begin to fall.

The World Health Organization stated Tuesday that about 100,000 people have died in the United States since omicron was named a “variant of concern.” In an online Q&A session, WHO incident manager Abdi Mahamud said the mortality toll is “tragic” given the availability of “effective vaccines.” Since omicron, there have been 130 million coronavirus cases documented worldwide, according to him.

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“As we get out of the full-blown pandemic phase of COVID-19, which we are clearly headed out of,” Anthony Fauci told the Financial Times, “decisions on coronavirus limits in the United States will increasingly be made on a local basis.”

According to a Washington Post tracker, COVID instances in the United States have decreased by 44% in the last week compared to the preceding seven days, and COVID-19 hospitalizations have similarly decreased during that time.

However, the seven-day average of mortality during the omicron surge has recently risen to 2,600, the highest number in a year in the country.

During the Q&A, Mahamud mentioned that 3,400 individuals died of COVID-19 in the United States in the 24 hours leading up to Tuesday afternoon, and he lamented the consequences of vaccination hesitancy there.

Those who focus simply on the fact that omicron causes milder illnesses than prior types “get the point,” he added, because transmission is still high and many nations have yet to reach omicron’s peak.

Coronavirus deaths increased for the fifth week in a row, with 68,000 deaths reported last week marking a 7% increase over the previous week.

Last week, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news conference that coronavirus mortality are on the rise in many regions of the world, and warned that surrendering or declaring success against the virus would be “premature.”

“We’re concerned that a narrative has emerged in some places that preventing transmission is no longer viable or required due to immunizations and omicron’s high transmissibility and lesser severity,” he said. “There isn’t a single thing that could be further from the truth.”

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