United States President Joe Biden ordered flags flown at half-staff as bells tolled 500 times at the Washington Cathedral in honour of the half a million people lost to COVID-19 in the country.

In a sombre speech given at a candle-lit White House to mark the occasion, President Biden sought to acknowledge the grave toll the coronavirus has wrought on the richest and most powerful country in the world.

The US has recorded more than 28 million COVID-19 cases and continues to suffer a death rate in excess of at least 1000 daily, sometimes over 2000 even as cases and hospitalisations begin to subside.

The first couple joined by Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff, stood at the South Portico of the White House in front of 500 candles lit to honour the dead as the Marine Corp played Amazing Grace.

President Biden speaking earlier, empathised with the losses families across the nation had experienced, reflecting on his own personal losses while promising healing with time

“I promise you that day will come when the memory of the love one you lost will bring a smile to your lips before a tear to your eye,” he said.

Biden leads Americans in moment of silence to mourn US COVID-19 deaths: