By Martin Finucane Globe Staff,Updated September 20, 2021, 3:09 p.m.
In a painful reminder of the devastation wrought by the pandemic, COVID-19 deaths nationally crossed the 675,000 threshold on Monday, surpassing the toll of the 1918 influenza pandemic.
Given the widespread availability of COVID-19 vaccines, which were developed in record time in a display of the extraordinary advances in medical science in the past century, the total should never have climbed so high, specialists said.
“I think it reflects the fact that the US was very, very slow in 2020 to step up and take COVID-19 seriously,” said Dr. Philip Landrigan, director of Boston College’s global public health program. “I think we made an enormous mistake in the beginning by minimizing the epidemic.”