President Joe Biden has ordered the US flag to be hung at half-mast on federal government buildings to mark the death of half a million people in the United States from the effects of the coronavirus.

The flag remains at half mast for five days in tribute to the victims.

Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, which is closely tracking statistics around the virus, reported around 10:40 p.m. that the mark of half a million corona deaths had been crossed Monday.

The US is by far the world leader in the number of deaths.

This also applies to the number of infections, which now stands at more than 28 million.

The mark of 400,000 US corona-related deaths was passed just over a month ago, and the threshold of 100,000 at the end of May.

In all countries combined, nearly 2.5 million people have died from COVID-19.

Biden gave a speech at the White House about the grim milestone around midnight (Dutch time), followed by a moment of silence and the lighting of candles.

His wife Jill Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, among others, were present.

More American dead than during World War II

"Today we have reached an incredibly grim and heartbreaking milestone - 500,071 deaths. That's more Americans who died in one year during this pandemic than during World War I and II and the Vietnam War added together," Biden said during his speech.

"As a nation we cannot accept such a cruel fate. We must avoid becoming insensitive to suffering."

According to Biden, the US must fight the pandemic as a united country.

He has made the fight against the corona virus one of the spearheads of his policy.

The US vaccination campaign has ramped up significantly since Biden took office a month ago.

About 44 million people have now received at least one vaccination, which corresponds to more than 13 percent of the population.

Nearly 19 million Americans have been given two doses.