The COVID-19 pandemic has, in just three months, killed more Americans than the decades-long Vietnam War, latest figures show.
More than 59,000 COVID-19 deaths have now been recorded in the US, according to a tally kept by the Johns Hopkins University. The country also accounts for nearly a third of the world’s confirmed infections, having passed the 1 million mark on Tuesday.
During the Vietnam War, which ran from 1954 to 1975, 58,200 American lives were lost.
The conflict’s costly human price sparked massive protests across the US in the 1960s calling for troops to be pulled out. In recent weeks, hundreds of protests have also been held, urging state representatives to lift confinement measures imposed to slow the spread of the virus.
The University of Washington, whose predictive model is cited by the White House, forecasts that the US could record 74,000 deaths by August 4.
This would mean that in addition to exceeding the death toll from the Vietnam Warr, COVID-19 would also have led to more fatalities than the country’s deadliest flu season.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), influenza killed over 300,000 people between 2010 and 2018. The heaviest annual toll was observed during the 2017-2018 season when 61,000 people lost their lives to the flu.
Vietnamese losses during the protracted military conflict are difficult to know for certain. The government estimated in 1995 that as many as two million civilians and around 1.1 million fighters from both sides were killed.
The US, however, said that between 200,000 and 250,000 Vietnamese soldiers had fallen.
The southeast Asian country of 95.5 million inhabitants has so far not recorded a single death from the pandemic and has just 270 confirmed cases of the virus.
Vietnam took swift action to contain COVID-19. On February 1, the country suspended all flights to and from China, issued visa restrictions and tightened border crossings with its northern neighbour.