The death toll from COVID-19 in the United States is nearing the 500,000-mark as the nation's top infectious disease expert, Anthony Fauci said that the numbers are "stunning" and "almost unbelievable but it's true." The US is the worst-hit nation by the coronavirus pandemic, as it first recorded COVID-19 cases in January last year, and now it has over 28,133,620 infections reported.

The death toll from COVID-19 currently stands at 498,880, as half a million mark is likely to reach in the next few days. Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Fauci said on NBC's "Meet the Press", "Half a million deaths. It's just -- it's terrible. It is historic." 

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"We haven’t seen anything even close to this for well over a hundred years since the 1918 pandemic of influenza," Fauci told NBC, adding, “It’s something that is stunning when you look at the numbers, almost unbelievable, but it’s true."

According to a report in Axios, when USA surpasses the 500,000 mark, President Joe Biden will issue remarks, followed by a moment of silence and a candle-lighting ceremony.

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Fauci, talking on CNN's "State of the Union," said the US could be "approaching a degree of normality" by the end of this year, however, he added that there is still a possibility that Americans would be wearing masks into 2022. Earlier, at CNN townhall, Biden said that normalcy will return in the US by next Christmas.

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The pace of vaccinations in the US is rising as the COVID-19 cases, deaths and hospitalisations have decreased sharply after peaking in early January. According to a state-by-state tally, over 61 million people have received the first jab of the coronavirus vaccine, reports Bloomberg.