Last year was the deadliest year in US history, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported, with the COVID-19 pandemic pushing America to the harrowing record.

Iran PressAmerica: The agency this month quietly updated its provisional death tally. Showing there were 3.5 million deaths last year, or about 80,000 more than 2020's record-setting total. 

COVID-19 deaths rose in 2021 - to more than 415,000, up from 351,000 the year before - as new coronavirus variants emerged and an unexpectedly large number of Americans refused to get vaccinated or were hesitant to wear masks, experts said. 

America suffered a large surge of deaths right at the start of the year, though, with January and February of 2021 being the deadliest months of the pandemic so far. While the shots were available at that point, supply was limited and many who wanted to get jabbed still had not had the opportunity to get them.

Vaccine demand then shrunk in late spring and early summer, as many Americans became complacent due to plummeting case and death figures. The Delta variant then emerged over summer, causing Covid deaths to surge once more.

While it is unlikely that 2022 reaches the dubious marker reached in 2021, as the relatively mild Omicron variant has snuffed out other strains of the virus, recent rises in cases have some officials considering bringing back some pandemic mandates.

Early last year, some experts were optimistic that 2021 would not be as bad as the first year of the pandemic - partly because effective COVID-19 vaccines had finally become available.

'We were wrong, unfortunately,' said Noreen Goldman, a Princeton University researcher.

The coronavirus is not solely to blame. Preliminary CDC data also shows the crude death rate for cancer rose slightly, and rates continued to increase for diabetes, chronic liver disease, and stroke. 

Drug overdose deaths also continued to rise. The CDC does not yet have a tally for 2021 overdose deaths, because it can take weeks of lab work and investigation to identify them. 

But provisional data through October suggests the nation is on track to see at least 105,000 overdose deaths in 2021 - up from 93,000 the year before. 

America's youth has suffered a worrying increase in overdose deaths as well, with a University of California, Los Angeles, study showing that 884 teens died from the synthetic opioid fentanyl in 2021 - up from 253 only two years earlier.

The total number of US deaths often increases year to year as the US population grows. But 2020 and 2021 saw extraordinary jumps in death numbers and rates, due largely to the pandemic.