UPDATED WITH DEEDS FIGURES
The death toll from COVID-19 in the United States surpassed 500.000 on Monday, nearly matching the number of Americans killed in World War II, Korea and Vietnam combined.
The lives lost, as recorded by Johns Hopkins University, are roughly equal to the population of Kansas City, Missouri, and greater than that of Miami; Raleigh, North Carolina; or Omaha, Nebraska.
The United States recorded some 405.000 deaths in World War II, 58.000 in the Vietnam War, and 36.000 in the Korean War.
Faced with the grim milestone in the United States, President Joe Biden will order that flags on federal government buildings be hoisted at half mast for five days, announced his spokesman, Jen Psaki.
The Democratic president plans to speak to the nation from the White House before attending a candle-lighting ceremony and a minute of silence with his wife Jill, along with Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff.
Unlike his predecessor, Republican Donald Trump, who often sought to downplay the disease, Biden has made fighting the pandemic his top priority.
The president warned that the number of victims in the United States could exceed 600.000.
But in the United States and the rest of the world there are signs of progress to overcome the pandemic declared by the World Health Organization (WHO) in March 2020, with a sharp drop in infections and a steady increase in vaccine deliveries. .
Waiting for normality
In the UK, the worst hit European nation, Prime Minister Boris Johnson presented a "prudent" and "progressive" plan to remove England from confinement imposed in January after an explosion of cases linked to a variant of the virus identified in the country.
The return of students to schools is anticipated from March 8 and non-essential retail sale from April 12. And from May 17 you could attend sports games, with all social distancing restrictions removed as of June 21.
In Germany despite fears of a third wave related to the British variant, schools reopened after two months of closure.
Still, it is unlikely that there will be a clear end date for the risks of contagion from an easily transmissible virus.
Biden's chief medical adviser, Anthony Fauci, recalled that Americans may have to wear face masks until 2022.
The death toll in the United States stood at 499.902 as of Monday afternoon, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Worldwide, the death toll was close to 2,5 million. The countries with the most deaths after the United States were Brazil (more than 246.000), Mexico (more than 180.000), India (about 156.000) and the United Kingdom (more than 120.000).
India asks for patience
The United States announced its first death in February of last year, and only passed the 100.000 mark three months later, during a first wave that hit New York particularly hard.
But as the outbreak spread across the United States, the pace of deaths increased, with the number climbing to 400.000 just over a month ago following a spike driven in part by the end-of-the-year holidays.
Meanwhile, India, the second worst affected nation in the world in terms of infections, surpassed a bleak threshold by registering its 11 millionth case.
New restrictions on gatherings went into effect in the western state of Maharashtra, home to the country's financial capital Mumbai, which has recorded nearly 52.000 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
The Serum Institute of India, the world's largest vaccine maker, has urged other countries to be "patient," saying they have been asked to give priority to serving the domestic market.
In the capital New Delhi, the vegetable seller Radhekrishna Negi reflected the feelings of all humanity when she told AFP: "I am fed up with the coronavirus."
The UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, regretted on Monday that the pandemic is being used by certain countries, which he did not mention, to suppress "dissonant voices" and silence the media.
With information from agencies