COVID-19 has now killed as many Americans as the Spanish flu — approximately 675,000

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The number of Americans who have died as a result of COVID-19 could surpass the fatalities caused by the 1918-19 Spanish flu outbreak, according to a count by Johns Hopkins University.

Approximately 675,000 people have died from coronavirus in the United States and scientists believe the virus will never entirely disappear.

Instead, experts hope it will become a mild seasonal bug as immunity strengthens through vaccines and repeated infections.

"We hope it will be like getting a cold, but there's no guarantee," said Emory University biologist Rustom Antia, who suggests an optimistic scenario in which this could happen over a few years.

Large swathes of America has seen a surge in cases with total deaths running at more than 1,900 a day - the highest level since early March.

There may be a further increase in the winter but not as deadly as last year, according to projections by the University of Washington.

The model projects an additional 100,000 or so Americans will die of COVID-19 by 1 January, which would bring the overall US toll to 776,000.

Despite being called the Spanish flu, the virus was first reported in March 1918 in Kansas and is estimated to have killed 675,000 Americans, in a population one-third the size of what it is today.

Reports from Spain of people being infected by the virus first appeared on 21 May 1918.

Globally, 50 million people died at a time when the world's population had 25% fewer people as it does now.

Due to incomplete records and poor scientific understanding of the illness, death tolls are estimates and the 675,000 figure comes from the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

The virus broke out towards the end of the First World War and the fourth, and the final wave occurred in the spring of 1920 in parts of New York, Switzerland, Scandinavia and some South American islands.

More than 4.6 million people have died from coronavirus globally.

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