20% of US Population Has Been Infected With COVID

Ralph Ellis

January 25, 2022

Editor's note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape's Coronavirus Resource Center.

Two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, at least 20% of the U.S. population has been infected with the virus, Johns Hopkins University's COVID Resource Center reports.

As of Monday, a total of 71.3 million cases have been reported in the country, with more than 867,000 COVID-related deaths. The U.S. had more than 204,000 new cases reported Monday and 572 deaths, Johns Hopkins said. Over the last 28 days, the U.S. had 18.3 million cases and almost 48,000 deaths.

The case count numbers have grown at a fast pace recently because of the surge of the Omicron variant, which now accounts for 99.5% of cases, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The true number of COVID cases is probably much higher because of unreported asymptomatic cases, health experts say.

The first COVID case in the United States was diagnosed Jan. 21, 2020, in a Washington state man who had traveled to Wuhan, China, where the virus was first detected.

While the virus has gripped the world, the United States is still the nation with the most cases and deaths. India has the second-most COVID cases with 39.5 million and Brazil has the second-most deaths with 623,000.

Health experts have been unable to predict the future of the COVID pandemic because variants have developed even after vaccination programs started.

"We don't yet understand how these variants emerge and what they are capable of doing," Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy in Minnesota, told CNBC. "Look at how omicron caught us as a global community surprised by the rapid transmission, the immune evasion. Look at Delta and all the impact it had on disease severity."

The first COVID vaccines were given to the U.S. public about 13 months ago, in late December 2020. Since then, 75.6% of the total population has received at least one dose of vaccine, 63.4% is fully vaccinated, and 40.1% has gotten a booster shot, the CDC reported.

Among one of the most vulnerable demographics, people over 65, 88.2% are fully vaccinated.

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