COVID-19 has been the cause of nearly 6 million deaths worldwide, according to the Associated Press (AP).

The death toll, compiled by Johns Hopkins University, as of Sunday afternoon is at 5,997,994 people.

The staggering statistic looms as we approach year three of the pandemic. Even as COVID restrictions begin to loosen domestically, the United States is nearing 1 million reported deaths.

Tikki Pang, a visiting professor at the National University of Singapore’s medical school, noted that the death rates worldwide remain highest among people who are unvaccinated against the virus.

“This is a disease of the unvaccinated — look what is happening in Hong Kong right now, the health system is being overwhelmed,” Pang explained to AP.

Pang, who previously served as director of research policy and cooperation with the World Health Organization (WHO) clarified by saying, “The large majority of the deaths and the severe cases are in the unvaccinated, vulnerable segment of the population.”

Since the beginning of the pandemic in early 2020, it took seven months to reach 1 million deaths from the coronavirus.

Four months later, AP reports, the world death toll reached two million. For the next several months, as restrictions loosened and the race for vaccines sped up, 1 million people were dying every three months due to COVID-19.

However, by the end of October 2021 as the global death toll reached 5 million — the frightening amount of people dying from the virus has calmed down.

Experts believe that as we approach 6 million reported deaths worldwide, we likely have already surpassed that number. Many countries with lesser tools to record accurate fatalities and infections have possibly kept poor records that are inaccurate, the outlet suggested. Other non-COVID deaths that are related to the effects of the pandemic aren’t counted in the overall figure as well.

Edouard Mathieu, head of data for the Our World in Data portal, believes that as many as four times the reported death toll have probably died because of the pandemic.

In fact, AP reports that an analysis of excess deaths by a crew at The Economist estimates the number of COVID-19 deaths to be between 14 million and 23.5 million.

“Confirmed deaths represent a fraction of the true number of deaths due to COVID, mostly because of limited testing, and challenges in the attribution of the cause of death,” Mathieu told The Associated Press. “In some, mostly rich, countries that fraction is high and the official tally can be considered to be fairly accurate, but in others it is highly underestimated.”