U.S. Records Over 25 Million COVID-19 Cases Just Over 1 Year After First Confirmed Infection

The United States has hit a chilling milestone amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Saturday afternoon, the U.S. officially recorded over 25 million confirmed cases of the virus, the most of any country in the world.

As of Sunday morning, over 417,390 people in the U.S. have died of COVID-19, according to the New York Times' coronavirus database.

Behind the U.S, India has the second-highest number of COVID-19 cases, with over 10 million. Brazil has the third-highest with over 8.8 million, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

According to the Times, the official tally of confirmed cases in the U.S. works out to about one in every 13 people in the country or about 7.6 percent of the population.

"Twenty-five million cases is an incredible scale of tragedy," Caitlin Rivers, an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told the publication.

The new tally comes just over a year after the first U.S. case of COVID-19 was confirmed on Jan. 21, 2020. The patient was a man living near Seattle, Washington, who had recently returned from Wuhan, China, and immediately isolated himself.

But as more people returned to the U.S. from China, and then Italy, the site of the second major outbreak, the number of cases started to tick upwards. From there, the number of cases soared, reaching over 1 million by April 28, 2020. Cases went up by 2 million over the month of October, and over the four weeks of November, cases increased by more than 4.3 million. December and January have only gotten worse, with the U.S. repeatedly breaking its record for most new cases in a single day.

Two vaccine candidates have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, one from Pfizer and another from Moderna, but vaccination rollout in the country is behind.

According to the Centers for Disease and Control Prevention, 20,537,990 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in the U.S. as of Sunday morning, despite there being nearly double that amount of vaccines—  41,411,550 — that have been distributed. Both vaccines require a wait of either three or four weeks before the second dose, which brings the vaccine protection up to around 95 percent.

A faster-spreading COVID-19 strain is also circulating through the US.

Strain B.1.1.7, first identified in the United Kingdom in October, is said by researchers to be about 50 percent more transmissible than previous mutations of COVID-19.

Currently, the CDC has identified 195 cases with the B.1.1.7 variant in the U.S. On Jan. 15, the CDC said that expects the strain to become the dominant COVID-19 variant by March, potentially driving infections and deaths higher at a time when they are already well out of control in the U.S

However, researchers at Pfizer have said that its vaccine should still be effective at fighting the B.1.1.7 variant.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. To help provide doctors and nurses on the front lines with life-saving medical resources, donate to Direct Relief here.

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