Biblical and Constitutional Politics
Fitness for One and All
Needless Covid Deaths and Hospitalizations and Other Updates
(The End of the Pandemic?)
By Gary F. Zeolla
On January 2, 2022, CBS News, on KDKA radio, reported there had now been 825,000 Covid deaths in the USA and 55 million confirmed cases as of New Year’s Day, 2022. With those two pieces of data, I can update and add more credence to the data and arguments in previous articles. This will enable me to bring to fruition many ideas I have presented about Covid over the past almost two years.
As such, it is possible this two-part article will be my last full article on Covid. But I will add an occasional commentary to my Coronavirus writings to update predictions I make in this article or to refute additional misinformation I heard that really aggravates me. And later, I might gather together all that I have written, add updates as needed, and publish it as a book.
We passed 600,000 deaths on June 15, 2021. That is about the time the vaccines became readily available, and any American who wanted one could get one. Doing the math, that means 225,000 deaths occurred between June 15, 2021 and January 1, 2022. The vast majority of those deaths were among the unvaccinated, as I document in my two-part article Statistical Refutations of Covid Deniers and Antivaxxers.
Specifically, I cite the statistic that as November 10, 2021, 89% of the deaths here in Pennsylvania were among the unvaccinated. A more recent and national statistic cited in the New York Post on December 3, 2021 was an average of 860 Americans were dying a day. Of those, 95% were unvaccinated (NYP. Daily). In Virginia, as of Christmas Day 2021, there were 15,587 Covid deaths, with only 969 among fully vaccinated Virginians (VDH). That means the vaccinated accounted for just 6.2% of the deaths. Turning that around, 93.8% were unvaccinated.
These are the most recent percentages I could find. To average them and round them off, I will use the figure of 90% of Covid deaths being among the unvaccinated. That means, 202,500 Covid deaths occurred among the unvaccinated from June 15, 2021 to New Year’s Day, 2022.
Now, the Covid vaccines are not 100% effective. No vaccines are. But all three vaccines in use in the USA are still highly effective against hospitalizations and deaths. Looking at the latter, initially, after two doses of the mRNA vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna), there was a 95% effectiveness against death (News/ Medical Life Sciences). After eight months, that had dropped to 81.7% for those under 65 and 71.6% for those over 65, averaging the two MRNA vaccines and the Johnson and& Johnson (J&J) vaccine together. However, this is before a booster shot. That would increase the effectiveness back to 95%, as I document in my Statistical article. Newer studies verify that percentage and show it is true even for Omicron (NYT. New; WSJ. Pfizer).
With that background, let me first average the unboosted numbers together for a 75% effectiveness against death. That would mean 151,875 lives could have been saved with the vaccines. If we add in the boosters, the number jumps to 192,375.
As of New Year’s Day, about 62% of Americans had been vaccinated and 38% had been boosted. That means, 61.3% of those vaccinated had been boosted. If all of the 38% of unvaccinated Americans had been vaccinated and 61.3% of them had been boosted, then that would have saved 191,575 lives.
This number is probably very accurate, as it is close to what a similar study on December 14th found:
Some 163,000 Covid-19 deaths in the U.S. could have been prevented by vaccination since June this year and the virus is one of the leading causes of death in all age groups, according to research by the Kaiser Family Foundation, as cases soar amid concerns the new omicron variant will trigger another wave of infections (Forbes. 160,000).
The number in that study is lower, as it only covered 5-1/2 months, from the end of June to mid-December, while mine covered 6-1/2 months, from June 15 to New Year’s Day. But we both ended up with an average of about 29,500 needless deaths per month or about 1,000 per day.
To be clear, all of these Covid deaths were preventable. But these needless deaths occurred due to the vaccine hesitancy created by Covid antivaxxers. Yes, I am putting the blame for these deaths on anyone and everyone who has been pushing misinformation about Covid and the vaccines, be it on social media or by conservative commentators.
Moreover, it is not just that people are dying needlessly, but those without the vaccines who die tend to be younger than those rare breakthrough deaths among the vaccinated. That is the case in the country where I live.
As of Thursday morning [12/23/21], Allegheny County [where Pittsburgh is located] had recorded 101 covid-related deaths this month. Seventy-three deaths were un-vaccinated individuals, health officials said. Eighteen of the 73 were among the 30 to 59 age group, and all 18 were unvaccinated.
Among the 28 deaths of vaccinated people, 25 were over 70 years old, while the other three were over 60 (Trib Live. Covid-driven).
As I mention in my four part article Why I Decided to Get Vaccinated, conservative commentators tend to focus on Covid deaths, while ignoring the suffering of those infected with Covid but who do not die. But, as I report in my article Covid, Dan Bongino, and Other Conservative Commentators, even if you do not die, a Covid infection is far worse than the flu. I have also mentioned previously about “long Covid.” That is when people continue to have symptoms, such as fatigue, for months after recovering from even a mild Covid infection.
Many people also suffer terribly with Covid, some to the point of needing to be hospitalized. And again, it is almost solely those who are unvaccinated who end up so sick with Covid they need to be hospitalized. And even if hospitalized, those who are vaccinated tend to have less severe symptoms than those who are unvaccinated. Those needless hospitalizations are overwhelming hospitals and hospital workers. That scenario is clearly the case here in southwestern PA where I live, as reported by all three hospitals systems that operate in this area. The following is from December 20, 2021.
According to information [State Senate Majority Leader Kim] Ward relayed from the Zoom meeting and confirmed by hospital officials, Excela Health has reported that more than 85% of its hospitalized patients are not fully vaccinated against covid-19, and covid patients account for up to 40% of those in the system’s three hospitals in Westmoreland [County, which adjoins Allegheny County]. Excela’s emergency departments are overcrowded, stretching staff and significantly extending wait times.
At UPMC, more than 75% of those in the hospital for covid-19 have not been vaccinated. Most of the rest are older than 65 or have other severe conditions that limit their immunity.
Allegheny Health Network reports a “perfect storm” of covid-19 hospitalizations, with its 14 hospitals at or near capacity on a daily basis. More than 90% of the covid patients filling AHN beds are unvaccinated (Trib Live. Kim Ward).
The same situation is seen in across the commonwealth:
One of Pennsylvania’s largest health systems has run out of beds because of the latest covid-19 surge, with doctors and nurses practicing “waiting room medicine” on patients who are forced to endure 10- to 20-hour delays in the emergency department, officials said Wednesday [12/8/21].
Geisinger is running at 110% capacity across its nine hospitals in central and northeastern Pennsylvania — overrun with largely unvaccinated covid-19 patients who represent a quarter to well over half of all admissions, said Dr. Jaewon Ryu, Geisinger’s president and chief executive officer. He said he expects the situation to deteriorate further in coming weeks, citing sharply rising numbers of cases and the increasing percentage of tests coming back positive.….
At Geisinger hospitals, the latest coronavirus surge means ambulances are backed up, ER doctors have resorted to making rounds in waiting rooms to diagnose patients with perforated bowels and other serious ailments, and covid-19 patients are getting oxygen in crowded hallways, said Geisinger’s Dr. Essie Reed…
“We’re almost two years into this, and it still feels like every day is a crisis when we go to work,” said Reed, an emergency physician at Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center in Wilkes-Barre and Geisinger’s director of EMS. “It’s probably worse than it was last year.” ….
About 90% of Geisinger’s covid-19 patients are unvaccinated, and another 8% got their shots more than six months ago (Trib Live/ AP. Covid).
The same situation has been occurring in all 50 states. The following quotes sum up the situation well:
Unvaccinated Americans this year have made up the vast majority of severe cases and deaths from the virus, and health experts say getting vaccinated remains the best way to protect against severe illness and death. The unvaccinated are “much more likely to be in a hospital, and they’re much more likely to be taking up a bed that might be wanted” this winter, said Bill Hanage, a public health researcher at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (Yahoo! News. As Omicron).
Covid accounted for 14 percent of all deaths in the United States from March 2020 until all adults became eligible for the vaccine in April , compared with 11 percent of deaths since then….
This all suggests that the change in who is dying from Covid-19 may be tied to which areas experienced the worst outbreaks of the Delta variant and who in those areas remains unvaccinated. Relaxed precautions in many areas may also play a role (NYT. Why).
Data from 36 of the states showed that approximately 1.37% of those fully vaccinated have experienced a breakthrough infection between January and December . Similarly, data from 34 of the states showed that about 0.05% of those fully vaccinated Americans have experienced a breakthrough case that required hospitalization, and data from 36 states showed only 0.01% of those fully vaccinated have died of COVID-19 (Yahoo! News. Breakthrough).
Getting COVID-19 after you’ve been vaccinated or recovered is still possible. But having some immunity -- whether from infection or vaccination -- really drops the odds of this happening to you. And if you do happen to catch COVID, if your immune system has already gotten a heads up about the virus, your infection is much less likely to be one that lands you in the hospital or morgue.
According to CDC data, at the height of the Delta surge in August , fully vaccinated people were six times less likely to get a COVID-19 infection compared with unvaccinated people, and 11 times less likely to die if they did get it (Web MD. Infected).
Kentucky’s Covid landscape is a lot like what’s happening in the rest of the United States. In some places, like Lexington, more than 60% of the population is fully vaccinated. But in many others, like the Appalachian counties 100 miles east, the rates are well under 40%. Diabetes, heart disease, smoking and obesity are prevalent—risk-factors that can make a Covid case severe, or deadly.
That made the state a tinderbox when the latest surge of infections began this summer. Outbreaks in less vaccinated counties filled up small, local hospitals. Sicker patients, or those who couldn’t find space, went on to regional facilities. The most severe cases fed into the biggest and most advanced hospital in the state, the University of Kentucky Albert B. Chandler Hospital, until it too overflowed. Like the man gasping for oxygen in one of the state’s many Covid wards, the outbreak starved Kentucky’s hospitals of air, consuming every resource: staff, beds, supplies and time….
U.S. hospitals almost always run close to the edge of capacity. There’s no spare money and staff to keep beds at the ready, and for a stressed hospital, every Covid admission can mean a canceled surgery, an overworked nurse or doctor, or a new space that has to be found.
Kentucky’s Covid data shows that the latest wave started, and reached its highest point, in the counties that had the lowest vaccination rates…
There are consequences to a health system locked up by Covid patients. There were still strokes, heart attacks and accidents coming in. (Two weeks after these interviews, a tornado struck the other side of the state, killing more than 70 people.) But hospital beds around the state were full, and transfers to other hospitals were nearly impossible (Bloomberg).
That last paragraph is another point worth emphasizing. In my Statistical article, I mention about people dying from maladies other than Covid due to not being able to get healthcare due to hospitals being full of Covid patients and doctors and nurses being overwhelmed with Covid patients. It is hard to quantify how many deaths resulted, but you could add those deaths to the previous 191,575 number of needless Covid deaths, easily topping 200,000 needless deaths in the USA in 2021 from Covid and its effects due to people not getting vaccinated.
The UK has the same problem as here in the USA:
In hospital, Covid-19 has largely become a disease of the unvaccinated. The man in his 20s who had always watched what he ate, worked out in the gym, was too healthy to ever catch Covid badly. The 48-year-old who never got round to making the appointment.
The person in their 50s whose friend had side-effects. The woman who wanted to wait for more evidence. The young pregnant lady worried about the effect on her baby.
The 60-year-old, brought to hospital with oxygen saturations of 70% [normal is 98%] by the ambulance that he initially called for his partner, who had died by the time it arrived; both believed that the drug companies bribed the government to get the vaccine approved.
All severely ill with Covid. All unvaccinated and previously healthy. All completely avoidable (Guardian. ICU).
Disgust with Antivaxxers
Despite being a conservative, I previously discussed my displeasure with conservative commentators in regard to Covid in my Dan Bongino article. Now that I see the numbers, I want to double-down on that displeasure to the point of saying I am absolutely disgusted with Covid antivaxxers. Personally, I could not live with myself if I knew my writings or words were causing people to suffer and die needlessly. But somehow, these people can push nonsense with little regard for the consequences. But that is why I have now almost completely stopped watching or listening to conservative media. I just cannot stand to hear the suffering and death-causing misinformation being promulgated.
It is clear it is conservative commentators who are having the most negative effective, as “Polls consistently identify Republicans as the group least likely to report being vaccinated and the most likely to say they will never get a shot” (Forbes. By). Moreover, I just saw a meme on Facebook claiming no one has died who has not received “the jab” (as Covid antivaxxers refer to the vaccines). Sorry, but 200,000 deaths are a lot of needless deaths which occurred among those poor people who believed the Internet and conservative lies.
That doesn’t even include the many more Americans who suffered needlessly and were even hospitalized due to those lies, along with all of the frazzled healthcare workers who have worked themselves to the bone to care for those unnecessarily sick and dying people. It all just disgusts me.
The situation in the UK is similar to here in the USA. The same doctor in the UK who wrote the previous extended quote laments:
Some of my frustration is directed upwards, at the flagrant misinformation flourishing in certain places and the utterly woeful example that our leaders continue to set. I have never heard a reason not to take the vaccine that I have agreed with. Most of all, however, I am now beaten back, exhausted, worn down by the continuous stream of people that we battle to treat when they have consciously passed up the opportunity to save themselves. It does make me angry (Guardian. ICU).
Covid antivaxxers are so disgusting they will even make things up if a story does not fit their narrative.
No matter what you've read on the internet, Betty White did not receive a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot just three days before her death (Yahoo! News. Betty).
In a statement to People magazine, the late star’s agent and close friend Jeff Witjas said: “Betty died peacefully in her sleep at her home. People are saying her death was related to getting a booster shot three days earlier, but that is not true.
“She died of natural causes. Her death should not be politicized – that is not the life she lived,” Witjas said.
According to the outlet, a fabricated quote circulated about White’s death on social media. Additionally, the news article cited by social media users doesn’t contain the bogus quote – “Eat healthy and get all your vaccines. I just got boosted today” – or anything about vaccines (Fox News. Betty).
Surely, fans of White had to have known that the quote, at least, did not sound like the Golden Girls actress. She was known for regularly insisting that eating hot dogs — she preferred them with vodka — was the secret to living a long life, so much so that the famous Los Angeles hot dog stand Pink’s is selling a special hot dog in honor of White this week (Yahoo! News. Betty).
All of this misinformation leads to what I consider to be the saddest stories of the Covid pandemic, that of people literally with their dying breaths denying they are dying of Covid. The reason for such stanch denials is these people so believed the lies of the far right that Covid is a hoax, that they could never accept they even had Covid, let alone that it was literally killing them. That denial would lead many to refuse treatment for Covid, as, since it is a hoax, they didn’t need treatment for it.
I heard various versions of this narrative repeated by various healthcare workers throughout the pandemic, mostly on CBS Evening News. The saddest of all is probably the following:
She [the aforementioned Dr. Essie Reed] said she recently took care of a young, unvaccinated married couple who both died of covid-19 after refusing the “proven therapies” offered by Geisinger (Trib Live/ AP. Covid).
They probably were unvaccinated and refused treatment because they believed Covid deniers and antivaxxers. The former meant they couldn’t possibly be dying from Covid, as it is “just the flu” as Covid deniers often say. They probably didn't get vaccinated, as they believed the lies of antivaxxers about the alleged “dangers” of the vaccines. But words have consequences, and such sad stories are the result of spreading misinformation.
Covid antivaxxers try to defend their antivax nonsense by saying they are preventing suffering and saving lives, as the vaccines are causing more people to suffer and die than the virus. They point to the VAERS system as evidence of this vaccine-caused suffering and death.
I previously explained the unverified and unreliable nature of the VAERS system in my Vaccinated and Statistical articles. I further explain the faulty reasoning of those claiming vaccine-caused suffering in my commentary “A Then B” posted at: Coronavirus General Commentaries: December 2021.
I won’t repeat all of that information here. But I will address a statistic mentioned on Newsmax on New Year’s Day. It was said that 19,000 deaths had been recorded on the VAERS system from the Covid vaccines. Again, that is an unreliable and unverified number.
But let me take is as reliable for just a moment. If you compare it to my calculated number of 191,575 needless Covid deaths due to people not getting the vaccine, that would still mean you are over ten times more likely to die from Covid than from the Covid vaccines. Moreover, that 19,000 VAERS number is since the vaccines first became available over a year ago, while my 191,575 number is for just the past 6-1/2 months. Factor that in, and your risk from Covid is far greater than from the vaccines, even if the VAERS number was reliable, which it is not.
VAERS reports generally cannot be used to determine if a vaccine caused or contributed to an adverse event or illness. Some events may occur coincidentally after the administration of a vaccine while others may in fact be caused by a vaccine. As a result, if a safety signal is found in VAERS, further studies can be conducted in safety systems such as the CDC’s Vaccine Safety Datalink (VSD), or the Clinical Immunization Safety Assessment (CISA) project. These systems do not have the same limitations as VAERS and can better assess health risks and possible connections between adverse events and a vaccine. Additional information about VAERS, VSD, and the CISA project are available here (FDA. VAERS).
Another quote from the UK doctor:
Yes, vaccinations are unpleasant. They cause side-effects. They hurt. You may even still catch Covid afterwards. I have many colleagues who have felt awful after vaccination and a few who had to take a day or two off work. However, I have not heard of any who have been hospitalised with Covid afterwards or who have had severe side-effects. The approvals process was incredibly stringent and we now have an unbelievable amount of real-world data that these vaccines work. The science that has been applied here is nothing short of awe-inspiring to me (Guardian. ICU).
Going back to the stats that opened this article, those 825,000 Covid deaths out of 55 million cases would give Covid a 1.5% case fatality rate (CFR). In my Statistical article, I calculated a 1.6% CFR. But that was based on numbers up to mid-November 2021, while these numbers again are as of New Year’s Day 2022. That means, the CFR dropped slightly during those six to seven weeks.
There are many possible reasons for that drop. But the most likely is the massive increase in cases at the end of 2021 due to the massive increase in testing and the spread of Omicron. Specifically, in the final week of 2021, there were recorded a record 2.5 million cases (WJAS news on 1/3/22). But with those cases being recorded in the last week of 2021, any hospitalizations and deaths as a result of them would not occur until 2022. But without those 2.5 million cases, the CFR would have only been 1.57%, close to my previous calculated 1.6% percent.
This two-part article is
Needless Covid Deaths and Hospitalizations and Other Updates (The End of the Pandemic?) Part Two.
See Needless Covid Deaths and Hospitalizations and Other Updates (The End of the Pandemic?) Part References.
Needless Covid Deaths and Hospitalizations and Other Updates (The End of the Pandemic?) Part One. Copyright © 2022 by Gary F. Zeolla (www.Zeolla.org).
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The above article was posted on this website January 5, 2022.
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