US death toll from coronavirus surpasses quarter-million mark

The US has logged more than 11 million cases of the virus, according to numbers from Johns Hopkins University.

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Coronavirus test samples are seen as people line up for free COVID-19 test ahead of Thanksgiving in Queens, New York City.

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More than a quarter-million people have died in the US from the coronavirus, according to tracking numbers from Johns Hopkins University on Wednesday, by far the highest total in the world. The grim milestone comes about six weeks after the world surpassed the 1 million fatalities mark.

The number of new cases is on the rise in all 50 states, and the US is averaging 150,000 new cases of COVID-19 per day,based on a seven-day rolling average. The number of people in the hospital with COVID-19 in the US doubled in the past month, according to the Associated Press. As of Tuesday, nearly 77,000 were hospitalized with the virus.

Global coronavirus infections now exceed 56 million, with the recent second wave of the virus accounting for a quarter of the total. Nearly 1.3 million people worldwide have died from the virus since it emerged late last year.

Read more: The latest about the coronavirus pandemic

Two vaccines being tested might be available before 2021. US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer announced this week that it has a vaccine that demonstrated 95% efficacy in tests conducted on 43,538 people in six countries, with no serious safety concerns. Moderna, a US biotech firm, announced this week that its vaccine has been demonstrated to be almost 95% effective and also relatively safe in a trial that included over 30,000 people.

Both companies plan to apply for emergency authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration this month. Pfizer, if authorized, expects to produce up to 50 million vaccine doses in 2020, and 1.3 billion in 2021. Moderna plans to ship 20 million doses in 2020 and another 500 million to 1 billion in 2021, if authorized.

COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus, has rapidly spread across the globe. India has the second-highest number of cases, at nearly 9 million, followed by Brazil, at nearly 6 million, and France, at 2 million.

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