US virus deaths top WWII fatalities as Biden warns worst yet to come
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New US President Joe Biden warned the worst of the pandemic is still to come, as the number of American coronavirus deaths surpassed the country's troop fatalities in World War II.

Coronavirus cases have surged past 96 million worldwide, fuelled by the emergence of new variants including one that was first detected in Britain and has now spread to more than 60 nations, the World Health Organization said Wednesday.

The United States remains the worst-hit country, with around a fifth of the two million global Covid-19 deaths, and Biden has made the fight against the pandemic his administration's top priority.

"We need all our strength to persevere through this dark winter. We're entering what may be the toughest and deadliest period of the virus," Biden said at his inauguration, where those in attendance wore face masks and social distancing was enforced.

A Johns Hopkins University tracker on Wednesday showed that 405,400 people have died from the disease, more than the 405,399 total US combat and non-combat deaths in WWII.
Among the Biden administration's targets is to inoculate 100 million Americans in 100 days, hoping to revive a vaccine rollout that had floundered in the last weeks of the Trump presidency.
E-commerce titan Amazon on Wednesday offered its vast logistics infrastructure to help with that effort.
Biden's point-man for fighting the pandemic, Jeff Zients, said the US would also rejoin the WHO, reversing his predecessor's decision.
He added that top US expert Anthony Fauci would lead a delegation to the WHO executive board meeting on Thursday.

- 'A war zone' -

The announcement came as the WHO confirmed that the virus variant first detected in Britain had spread to more than 60 countries, while one that emerged in South Africa has made it to 23.
The South African variant is more contagious than earlier ones, experts have warned.

Both have tempered optimism that mass vaccination will help to end the unpopular restrictions such as shutdowns that have wrecked economies around the world.

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