Nick Abbot 10pm - 1am
US coronavirus deaths top 200,000
22 September 2020, 17:28 | Updated: 22 September 2020, 19:19
The United States has now topped 200,000 Covid-19 deaths, making it the worst hit nation in the world.
It has also recorded 6,861,211 cases, putting it in the unenviable position of the highest case number on the globe.
The bleak milestone, by far the highest confirmed death toll from the virus in the world, was reported by Johns Hopkins, based on figures supplied by state health authorities, but the real toll is thought to be much higher, in part because many Covid-19 deaths were probably ascribed to other causes, especially early on, before widespread testing.
The number of dead in the US is equivalent to a 9/11 attack every day for 67 days, and it is still climbing.
Deaths are running at close to 770 a day on average, and a widely cited model from the University of Washington predicts the overall toll will double to 400,000 by the end of the year as schools and colleges reopen and cold weather sets in. A vaccine is unlikely to become widely unavailable until 2021.
"The idea of 200,000 deaths is really very sobering, in some respects stunning," said Dr Anthony Fauci, the government's top infectious-disease expert.
The figure reflects America's unenviable spot, which it has held for five months, as the world's leader in numbers of confirmed infections and deaths.
The US has less than 5 per cent of the globe's population but more than 20 per cent of the reported deaths.
US President Donald Trump has demanded that the United Nations holds China accountable for the coronavirus pandemic.
"We have waged a fierce battle against the invisible enemy - the China virus - which has claimed countless lives in 188 countries," the president said in a pre-recorded address to the UN General Assembly.
"As we pursue this bright future, we must hold accountable the nation which unleashed this plague on to the world: China."
While he blames Beijing, he has been harshly criticised for his administration's track record in battling coronavirus, now a top issue in his bid for re-election.
Democratic opponent Joe Biden claims Mr Trump bungled the response to Covid-19 and is responsible for the US having more deaths than any other nation.
The president encouraged the reopening of US society even as the virus was spreading rapidly and holds campaign rallies where few wear face masks or practise social distancing.
But Mr Trump points to the virus's origins in China and says the Chinese government acted irresponsibly in allowing the virus to spread.
"The United Nations must hold China accountable for their actions," Mr Trump said. The president also took aim at China's environmental record and the UN itself.
"Those who attack America's exceptional environmental record while ignoring China's rampant pollution are not interested in the environment. They only want to punish America. And I will not stand for it," he said.
Only five countries - Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Spain and Brazil - rank higher in Covid-19 deaths per capita.
"All the world's leaders took the same test, and some have succeeded and some have failed," said Dr Cedric Dark, an emergency physician at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. "In the case of our country, we failed miserably."
Blacks, Hispanics and American Indians have accounted for a disproportionate share of the deaths, underscoring economic and health care disparities in the US.
Worldwide, the virus has infected more than 31 million people and is closing in fast on a million deaths, with over 965,000 lives lost, by Johns Hopkins' count, though the real numbers are believed to be higher because of gaps in testing and reporting.