WASHINGTON

The number of people in the US who have died from COVID-19 surpassed the grim 200,000 milestone Tuesday, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

The Maryland-based school recorded 200,005 deaths and 6,861,211 cases, more than eighth months after the US’ first known coronavirus death in February.

The first virus death was initially announced to have occurred Feb. 29 in the state of Washington, but in April, medical officials in Santa Clara County in California said two deaths Feb. 6 and 17 were virus-related after further testing was conducted.

As the US continues to be the hardest-hit country, controversy surrounding the manufacturing of a vaccine remains vivid.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield testified Wednesday at a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing and said a vaccine might be available in November or December but not widely accessible until “the second or third quarter” of 2021.

Two days later, US President Donald Trump disputed Redfield’s remarks, saying “It’s just incorrect information. I believe he was confused” and vowed the US could begin distributing a vaccine next month.

Trump said during a news briefing Friday that the US will manufacture at least 100 million doses of a vaccine before the end of the year and all Americans will have access to it by April.

Currently, California tops the 50 states in number of cases with nearly 800,000, followed by Texas with more than 734,000, Florida with 685,000 and New York with 450,000.

Across the world, COVID-19 has claimed more than 965,000 lives in 188 countries and regions since last December. More than 31.3 million cases have been reported worldwide, with recoveries exceeding 20.8 million.

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