What We’ve Learned — and Failed to Learn — from a Million COVID Deaths

Link: https://www.governing.com/now/what-weve-learned-and-failed-to-learn-from-a-million-covid-deaths

Excerpt:

The pandemic is not done. The number of new infections — surely an undercount due to unreported home tests — again tops 75,000 per day. The number of hospitalizations has climbed 20 percent over the past two weeks. The Biden administration has warned there could be 100 million more Americans infected by early next year. Yet Congress seems unwilling to provide more money for basic responses such as tests and vaccines, even as it becomes increasingly clear that even mild cases can lead to dangerous long-term damage.

Yet there are positive developments to consider as well. Vaccinations and certainly boosters are not where they should be, but three out of four Americans have received at least a single dose and two-thirds are fully vaccinated. The Commonwealth Fund has estimated that, absent vaccines, an additional 2.3 million Americans would have died, and 17 million more would have been hospitalized. Public health measures such as masking have largely fallen out of favor, but they helped prevent a death toll that could have been even more terrible.

“A million is way too many people, but as a result of the work that has been done, through public health and vaccination, it’s a number that’s a lot lower than it might have been,” says David Fleming, a distinguished visiting fellow at the Trust for America’s Health. “If we did not do those things, we would not be looking at the 1 million death threshold, we’d be looking at the 3 million death threshold.”

Author(s): Alan Greenblatt

Publication Date: 12 May 2022

Publication Site: Governing

If you’re vaxxed, you’re more likely to be killed by lightning than die of COVID: study

Link:https://nypost.com/2022/02/08/lightnings-more-likely-good-odds-for-vaxxed/

Graphic:

Excerpt:

Those odds can be gauged from a study by researchers at the National Institutes of Health, published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They tracked more than 1 million vaccinated adults in America over most of last year, including the period when the Delta variant was surging, and classified victims of COVID according to risk factors such as being over 65, being immunosuppressed or suffering from diabetes or chronic diseases of the heart, kidney, lungs, liver or brain.

The researchers report that none of the healthy people under 65 had a severe case of COVID that required treatment in an intensive-care unit.

 Not a single one of these nearly 700,000 people died, and the risk was minuscule for most older people, too. Among vaccinated people over 65 without an underlying medical condition, only one person died.

In all, there were 36 deaths, mostly among a small minority of older people with a multitude of comorbidities: the 3% of the sample that had at least four risk factors.

Author(s): John Tierney

Publication Date: 8 Feb 2022

Publication Site: NY Post

Study suggests Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine may only partially protect against Omicron

Link:https://www.reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/pfizer-covid-19-vaccine-partially-protective-against-omicron-bloomberg-news-2021-12-07/?fbclid=IwAR0rKPM8dNsMnI_iQ0Hbph-KLY0HiI-PzeLmdYGWWoeFdYKsU07SuDjnuNg

Excerpt:

The Omicron variant of the coronavirus can partially evade the protection from two doses of Pfizer Inc (PFE.N) and partner BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine, the research head of a laboratory at the Africa Health Research Institute in South Africa said on Tuesday.

Still, the study showed that blood from people who had received two doses of the vaccine and had a prior infection were mostly able to neutralize the variant, suggesting that booster doses of the vaccine could help to fend off infection.

Author(s): Michael Erman

Publication Date: 8 Dec 2021

Publication Site: Reuters

COVID-19 Vaccination and Non–COVID-19 Mortality Risk — Seven Integrated Health Care Organizations, United States, December 14, 2020–July 31, 2021

Link:https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/70/wr/mm7043e2.htm?s_cid=mm7043e2_w

Excerpt:

What is already known about this topic?

Although deaths after COVID-19 vaccination have been reported to the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System, few studies have been conducted to evaluate mortality not associated with COVID-19 among vaccinated and unvaccinated groups.

What is added by this report?

During December 2020–July 2021, COVID-19 vaccine recipients had lower rates of non–COVID-19 mortality than did unvaccinated persons after adjusting for age, sex, race and ethnicity, and study site.

What are the implications for public health practice?

There is no increased risk for mortality among COVID-19 vaccine recipients. This finding reinforces the safety profile of currently approved COVID-19 vaccines in the United States. All persons aged ≥12 years should receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

Author(s): Stanley Xu, PhD1; Runxin Huang, MS1; Lina S. Sy, MPH1; Sungching C. Glenn, MS1; Denison S. Ryan, MPH1; Kerresa Morrissette, MPH1; David K. Shay, MD2; Gabriela Vazquez-Benitez, PhD3; Jason M. Glanz, PhD4; Nicola P. Klein, MD, PhD5; David McClure, PhD6; Elizabeth G. Liles, MD7; Eric S. Weintraub, MPH8; Hung-Fu Tseng, MPH, PhD1; Lei Qian, PhD1

Publication Date: 29 October 2021

Publication Site: MMWR at CDC

Wave of COVID-19 Deaths Hit RGA Hard

Link: https://www.thinkadvisor.com/2021/11/08/wave-of-covid-19-deaths-hit-rga-hard/

Excerpt:

After the second quarter, RGA executives told analysts they were optimistic about the effects of COVID-19 vaccination programs on mortality.

Instead, “the third quarter saw increases in both COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 general population mortality,” Porter said.

In the United States and India, the typical age of people dying of COVID-19 is falling, Porter added.

That hurts life insurers because people under 65 are more likely than older people to have life insurance.

Author(s): Allison Bell

Publication Date: 8 Nov 2021

Publication Site: Think Advisor

Who Had Covid-19 Vaccine Breakthrough Cases?

Link:https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2021/10/28/us/covid-breakthrough-cases.html

Graphics:

Excerpt:

Compared with the unvaccinated, fully vaccinated people overall had a much lower chance of testing positive for the virus or dying from it, even through the summer’s Delta surge and the relaxation of pandemic restrictions in many parts of the country. But the data indicates that immunity against infection may be slowly waning for vaccinated people, even as the vaccines continue to be strongly protective against severe illness and death.

“The No. 1 take-home message is that these vaccines are still working,” said Dr. David Dowdy, an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “If you saw these data for any disease other than Covid, what everyone’s eyes would be drawn to is the difference between the unvaccinated and fully vaccinated lines.”

The data shows notable differences in breakthrough death rates by age and slight differences in both case and death rates by vaccine brand, trends that experts say are important to consider as tens of millions of Americans weigh whether to get a booster shot.

Author(s): Aliza Aufrichtig, Amy Schoenfeld Walker

Publication Date: 28 Oct 2021

Publication Site: NYT

How Jefferson and Franklin Helped End Smallpox in America

Link:https://www.governing.com/context/how-jefferson-and-franklin-helped-end-smallpox-in-america.html

Excerpt:

In the new world, inoculation had a very rough reception. When John Dalgleish and Archibald Campbell began inoculating individuals in Norfolk, Virginia, an angry mob burned down Campbell’s house. Similar incidents occurred in Salem and Marblehead, Mass. In Charleston, S.C., an inoculation control law of 1738 imposed a fine of £500 on anyone providing or receiving inoculation within two miles of the city. A similar law was passed in New York City in 1747. 

The measures in New England were so draconian that Benjamin Waterhouse noted the paradox: “New England, the most democratical region on the face of the earth voluntarily submitted to more restrictions and abridgements of liberty, to secure themselves against that terrific scourge, than any absolute monarch could have enforced.” (This, strangely prescient, anticipates the current debate about liberty versus public health). It was in the middle colonies — Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey — that inoculation was most tolerated in the second half of the 18th century. That’s why Jefferson made the long journey to Philadelphia to be inoculated in 1766. 

Jefferson first became aware of the discovery of a true smallpox vaccine from the newspapers he read in Philadelphia and the new capitol in Washington, D.C. Then, on Dec. 1, 1800, just after Jefferson’s election to the presidency, Benjamin Waterhouse sent him his pamphlet on the vaccine with a lovely cover letter saying that he regarded Jefferson as “one of our most distinguished patriots and philosophers.” Jefferson responded immediately, thanking Waterhouse for the publication and declaring, with his usual grace, that “every friend of humanity must look with pleasure on this discovery, by which one evil the [more] is withdrawn from the condition of man: and contemplating the possibility that future improvements & discoveries, may still more & more lessen the catalogue of evils. in this line of proceeding you deserve well of your [country?] and I pray you to accept my portion of the tribute due you.” 

Author(s): Clay Jenkinson, Editor-at-Large

Publication Date: 29 April 2020

Publication Site: Governing

COVID-19 Vaccination and Non–COVID-19 Mortality Risk — Seven Integrated Health Care Organizations, United States, December 14, 2020–July 31, 2021

Link:https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/70/wr/mm7043e2.htm

Graphic:

Excerpt:

What is already known about this topic?

Although deaths after COVID-19 vaccination have been reported to the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System, few studies have been conducted to evaluate mortality not associated with COVID-19 among vaccinated and unvaccinated groups.

What is added by this report?

During December 2020–July 2021, COVID-19 vaccine recipients had lower rates of non–COVID-19 mortality than did unvaccinated persons after adjusting for age, sex, race and ethnicity, and study site.

What are the implications for public health practice?

There is no increased risk for mortality among COVID-19 vaccine recipients. This finding reinforces the safety profile of currently approved COVID-19 vaccines in the United States. All persons aged ≥12 years should receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

Author(s): Stanley Xu, PhD1; Runxin Huang, MS1; Lina S. Sy, MPH1; Sungching C. Glenn, MS1; Denison S. Ryan, MPH1; Kerresa Morrissette, MPH1; David K. Shay, MD2; Gabriela Vazquez-Benitez, PhD3; Jason M. Glanz, PhD4; Nicola P. Klein, MD, PhD5; David McClure, PhD6; Elizabeth G. Liles, MD7; Eric S. Weintraub, MPH8; Hung-Fu Tseng, MPH, PhD1; Lei Qian, PhD1

Publication Date: 22 Oct 2021

Publication Site: CDC

Vaccines Reduce Risk: A Look at the Changing Age-Related Mortality Risk of COVID

Link:https://marypatcampbell.substack.com/p/vaccines-reduce-risk-a-look-at-the

Graphic:

Video:

Excerpt:

I will put a few facts in front of you, and you think it through:
– The population age 85+ in the U.S. in 2020 was 6.3 million
– Through July 2021, there were a little over 180K COVID deaths for that group
– That’s about 3% of the age 85+ population

Do you think only 3% of the age 85+ population is vulnerable to COVID?

Pretty much all of them are “vulnerable”. The mortality rate for people age 85 (much less older) was 7.3% for females and 9.5% for males in the most recently available tables. It only goes up from there.

There is a huge difference in mortality by age for just non-pandemic years, and it’s also true for COVID.

There may be a few hardy souls with a base risk similar to the middle-aged without vaccines, but the percentage is not high.

The vaccines have been having an effect in cutting risk.

Author(s): Mary Pat Campbell

Publication Date: 18 Oct 2021

Publication Site: STUMP at substack

KFF COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor: September 2021

Link:https://www.kff.org/coronavirus-covid-19/poll-finding/kff-covid-19-vaccine-monitor-september-2021/

Graphic:

Excerpt:

In the midst of a “third wave” of the U.S. COVID-19 pandemic driven largely by the highly contagious Delta variant, more than seven in ten U.S. adults (72%) now report that they have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, up from 67% in July. An additional 2% say they plan to get the vaccine as soon as possible. The share who say they want to “wait and see” how the vaccine works for others before getting it themselves dropped to 7% in September. Four percent of adults this month say they will get vaccinated only if required for work, school, or other activities and 12% say they will “definitely not” get the vaccine.

The largest increases in self-reported COVID-19 vaccination rates between July and September were among younger adults (up 11 percentage points among 18-29 year-olds) and Hispanic adults (up 12 percentage points). The largest remaining gap in vaccination rates is by partisanship, with 90% of Democrats saying they have gotten at least one dose compared to 68% of independents and 58% of Republicans. In addition, large differences in self-reported vaccination rates remain between older and younger adults, between those with and without college degrees, and between those with higher and lower incomes, while rural adults continue to lag behind those living in urban and suburban areas. Non-elderly adults without health insurance also continue to report one of the lowest COVID-19 vaccination rates of any group (54%).

Author(s): Liz Hamel Follow @lizhamel on Twitter , Lunna Lopes , Grace Sparks Follow @gracesparks on Twitter , Ashley Kirzinger Follow @AshleyKirzinger on Twitter , Audrey Kearney Follow @audrey__kearney on Twitter , Mellisha Stokes , and Mollyann Brodie Follow @Mollybrodie on Twitter

Publication Date: 28 Sept 2021

Publication Site: Kaiser Family Foundation

In one of the country’s most vaccinated places, masks were still key to slowing Covid-19

Link:https://www.cnn.com/2021/10/01/health/covid-vaccine-colorado-tourist-town/

Excerpt:

San Juan County, Colorado, can boast that 99.9% of its eligible population has received at least one dose of covid-19 vaccine, putting it in the top 10 counties in the nation, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

If vaccines were the singular armor against covid’s spread, then on paper, San Juan County, with its 730 or so residents on file, would be one of the most bulletproof places in the nation.

Yet the past few months have shown the complexity of this phase of the pandemic. Even in an extremely vaccinated place, the shots alone aren’t enough because geographic boundaries are porous, vaccine effectiveness may be waning over time and the delta variant is highly contagious. Infectious-disease experts say masks are still necessary to control the spread of the virus.

Author(s): Rae Ellen Bichell, KHN

Publication Date: 1 Oct 2021

Publication Site: CNN

Europe’s Covid-19 Vaccination Success Faces Winter Test

Link: https://www.wsj.com/articles/europes-covid-19-vaccination-success-faces-winter-test-11632303001?mod=djemwhatsnews

Excerpt:

Europe has pushed ahead of the U.S. in vaccinating its citizens and has experienced a summer of relatively subdued Covid-19 caseloads, hospitalizations and deaths, despite the spread of the Delta variant.

Deaths from Covid-19 in the European Union averaged around 525 over the seven days through Tuesday and around 140 in the U.K. In January, daily deaths peaked at 3,500 in the EU and around 1,200 in the U.K., according to national data compiled by the University of Oxford’s Our World in Data project.

Adjusted for population, EU deaths equate to around 1.2 per million a day, and U.K. deaths to 2.1 per million. That compares with 6.1 per million currently in the U.S.

The difference reflects wider vaccine coverage, especially of older and high-risk groups. The 27 countries of the EU have fully vaccinated 61% of the bloc’s 448 million population, compared with 55% in the U.S., according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and its EU counterpart. Big EU nations picked up the vaccination pace after a slow start this year. France has fully vaccinated 67% of its population, Germany 63% and Italy 66%. The U.K., which left the EU in 2020, has fully vaccinated 66% of its residents.

Author(s): Jason Douglas in London, Erin Delmore in Berlin and Eric Sylvers in Milan

Publication Date: 22 Sept 2021

Publication Site: Wall Street Journal