The United States, which has reported the world's worst overall Covid-19 death toll, has 'no doubt' been undercounting fatal cases, top pandemic advisor Anthony Fauci said on Sunday.
The country has officially lost over 581,000 people to the disease caused by COVID-19 - but a University of Washington study released on Thursday estimated deaths at more than 900,000.
'That's a bit more than I would have thought the undercounting was,' Fauci told NBC's Meet The Press.
In cases where someone has not been tested, coroners are free to attribute a death to the more direct condition, and leave COVID-19 out entirely. A report in January found that coroners in Trump-supporting areas were more likely to downplay COVID as a factor in death.
Fauci appeared on NBC's Meet the Press on Sunday morning to discuss the pandemic
'But I think there's no doubt... that we are and have been undercounting.'
The United States has reported over 32.6 million cases since the virus was first identified at the end of 2019 in China.
America was battered by a spike in cases and deaths after the end-of-year holidays, but since January new infections have come down as vaccination rates have jumped.
'We are turning the corner,' said Jeffrey Zients, White House COVID-19 coordinator, on CNN's State of the Union.
'We have 58 per cent of adult Americans with at least one shot, over 110 million Americans fully vaccinated.'
President Joe Biden wants 70 per cent of adults in the U.S. to have received at least one shot of the COVID-19 vaccine by the July 4 Independence Day holiday.
But the rate peaked around April 10 and has been declining since then, with vaccine hold-outs slowing the race to population immunity.
Anthony Fauci says there is 'no doubt' that the nation's virus toll is higher than reported
Federal, state and local officials are partnering with pharmacies, restaurants, breweries, supermarkets and sports teams to come up with incentives to get people to get their shots.
In New Jersey, Governor Phil Murphy launched a 'Shot and a Beer' program to encourage vaccination, while in West Virginia Governor Jim Justice announced that the state will offer $100 savings bonds to residents aged 16 to 35 who get inoculated.