Latin America and the Caribbean on December 29 became the second region after Europe to top half a million deaths from Covid-19, according to an AFP count based on official tallies.
There have been at least 500,800 deaths among the 29 countries in the region, with more than half of those in Brazil (192,000) and Mexico (120,000).
The milestone came 12 days after Europe passed the half-million mark.
It takes the total worldwide deaths to more than 1.78 million, with the US and Canada accounting for over 350,000 and Asia topping 217,000.
Almost 82 million people worldwide have contracted the virus, including more than 15 million in Latin America – the third largest after Europe (26 million) and the US and Canada (20 million).
Brazil has the largest number of cases in Latin America with more than 7.5 million.
Latin America was the first region to reach 400,000 fatalities.
On December 29, Argentina joined Mexico, Chile and Costa Rica in becoming the fourth country in the region to begin a mass immunisation programme, although it used the controversial Russian Sputnik V vaccine.
The other three countries began vaccinations last week with the jab developed by Pfizer/BioNTech.