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Andy Slavitt, senior adviser to Mr Biden, opened Monday’s Covid-19 briefing by recalling that the country was on the verge of reaching “a dark milestone”.

“Everyone lost is someone whose life and gifts have been interrupted,” Mr. Slavitt said. “Our hearts go out to all who mourn our loved ones who we miss so much. For those of us in the administration, the opportunity makes us more determined to turn the tide on Covid-19 so that the losses can ease and the healing can begin.

He was accompanied by Dr Anthony S. Fauci, the government’s leading infectious disease specialist, who predicted at the end of last March, at a time when there were just over 2,000 Americans lost to Covid-19, that up to 200,000 die from the disease – a number that seemed astronomical at the time. Today it would sound like a blessing.

“As disappointing as it may sound, we should be prepared for it,” Dr Fauci said at the time.

In an ABC interview Monday on “Good Morning America,” Dr Fauci said that while some of the devastation was inevitable, much could have been avoided.

“It’s so hard to go back and try to, you know, do a metaphorical autopsy on how things turned out. It was just bad. It’s bad now, “Dr Fauci said, adding:” If you look back, we have done worse than most other countries, and we are a rich and highly developed country. “

The last public health disaster of comparable proportions was the 1918 influenza pandemic, which is believed to have killed an estimated 675,000 Americans. Nancy K. Bristow, chair of the history department at the University of Puget Sound and author of “American Pandemic: The Lost Worlds of the 1918 Influenza Epidemic,” learned a lesson.

“There will be a real willingness to say, ‘Look how we’re doing,'” she said, warning against tendencies to “rewrite this story as another story of American triumph.”

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