Far more people were dying from COVID-19 months ago as we were winding down restrictions than are dying today as some call to reinstate them.
If you judged the US’s current COVID-19 situation only by the headlines, you’d come away thinking that we’re spiraling back into pandemic disaster. Localities like Los Angeles County and St. Louis have reimposed mask mandates on their citizens, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention just revised its “guidance” to say that, actually, fully vaccinated individuals should still wear masks in certain situations. Meanwhile, mainstream media coverage of the rise of the “Delta variant” is soaked in alarmism.
Yet at the same time that all this alarm is mounting, the actual number of COVID-19 deaths is at a nadir. Harvard Medical School Professor Martin Kulldorff pointed this out on Twitter, writing that “In [the] USA, COVID mortality is now the lowest since the start of the pandemic in March 2020.”
He shared this graph from OurWorldInData which clearly shows how COVID deaths per million are at, relatively speaking, extreme lows. Far morepeople were dying from COVID-19 months ago as we were winding down restrictions than are dying today as some call to reinstate them.
Now, some would cite rising COVID-19 case counts or hospitalizations in certain parts of the country as evidence that the pandemic is indeed once again spiraling out of control. But many COVID-19 cases recorded as positive are either asymptomatic or come with very mild symptoms—especially the cases confirmed among vaccinated individuals—so high case counts are not necessarily proof of a serious problem. Hospitalizations are concerning, yes, but primarily insofar as they lead to high numbers of deaths, which, thankfully, is not the case so far with the Delta variant.
Others would say that deaths are a “lagging indicator” that come in several weeks after the increased spread of the disease. But the Delta variant has been spreading in the US for months now, and deaths have remained relatively flat, in part due to widespread vaccination.
“It is striking that COVID mortality is at such low levels despite the fact that we are seeing an increase in cases of late,” Stanford Professor of Medicine Dr. Jay Bhattacharya tells FEE. “By immunizing the elderly and many other vulnerable people, we have provided them with excellent protection against severe disease in case they get infected. Also contributing is widespread natural immunity from recovered COVID patients. Though cases may rise, deaths will no longer follow in proportion. We have effectively defanged the disease with our successful vaccination rollout.”