Biblical and Constitutional Politics

Fitness for One and All

One Million Covid Deaths in the USA

(Well Almost, and It Could be Worse)

By Gary F. Zeolla

 

      I predicted back in May of 2020 we would eventually reach one million Covid-19 deaths in the USA (see Revised Coronavirus Numbers). On February 2, 2022, we hit the grim milestone of 900,000 Covid deaths (New York Times. U.S.). At that time, were averaging almost 2,000 Covid deaths a day, so I thought we would reach the horrid milestone of one million Covid deaths by the end of March.

      Consequently, I planned on writing an article about doing so for the next issue of my FitTips for One and All newsletter, which was due the first week of April. However, now, “Around 700 deaths are currently being reported each day” (New York Times. Coronavirus). As a result of that drop in daily Covid deaths, we did not hit that one million milestone by the beginning of April.

      I began to write this article on Sunday, April 3, 2022. According to the New York Times Covid ticker, at that time, the USA stood at 979,988 USA Covid deaths. It will now probably be near the end of April before we hit that horrific one million milestone. But my FitTips newsletter is due now, so I will come out with this article a bit early.

 

Dropping Case Fatality Rate/ Why It Could be Worse

 

      The case fatality rate  (CFR) is the number of Covid deaths divided by the number of cases. I first calculated this number for March 25, 2021 as being at 1.8%. That was one year into the full-swing of the pandemic in the USA but before the vaccines became readily available. I next calculated the CFR as falling to 1.6% by November 13, 2021. Then by New Year’s Day 2022, the CFR had fallen a bit to 1.5%. Then by January 19, 2020, the CFR had fallen to 1.3%.

      As of this writing, along with the 979,988 USA Covid deaths, the New York Times Covid ticker has 80,051,976 total Covid-19 cases reported in the USA. Using these new numbers, the CFR now is at 1.22%. Therefore, the CFR has been falling over the past year  That is a very good thing. If not, the Covid deaths numbers would be far greater.

      If we were still experiencing a 1.8% CFR, then the death count in the USA would now stand at 1,440,935. That means, 460,947 American lives have been saved due to the dropping CFR, or almost half a million Americans. But why has the CFR been dropping?

      There are three possible reasons: 1. The Covid vaccines. 2. Increased use of therapeutics. 3. Dropping lethality of the virus itself. Most likely, the dropping CFR is due to a combination of these three possibilities. But it is impossible to tease out how much each contributes. Covid antivaxxers will try to claim the vaccines have little to do with it. But I have demonstrated previously and will do so again shortly the effectiveness of the vaccines.

      Covid deniers will claim it mostly has to do with the dropping lethality of the virus. That is part of it; but even now, with Omicron, be it BA.1 or BA.2, we are still seeing 700 Covid deaths a day. And those deaths are almost all occurring among the unvaccinated, as I have demonstrated previously and will do so again shortly. Thus, even Omicron BA.2 is lethal for those who are unvaccinated. That is, unless they get timely treatment with safe and effective therapeutics. That is increasingly becoming the case, which is very good and the third part of the reason for the drop in the CFR.

      But again, to tease how the contribution of each of these three to the dropping CFR would be quite impossible. The best I can do is assume each contributes to it evenly. That would mean each has saved 153,649 American lives. Yes, to Covid antivaxxers, that means 153,649 American lives have been saved by the vaccines.

      Actually, the number is probably much greater, as, despite, claims by those on the right to the contrary, the vaccines also reduce a person’s risk of infection. They do not eliminate it, but they do reduce it. That means, without the vaccines, the case count would be higher. The best estimate I have heard is the vaccines reduce the risk of infection by about 50%.

      Back on March 25 2021, we were at 30,042,191 cases. That means, 50,009,785 more Americans have become infected in the past year or almost 20,000,000 more than in the first year of they pandemic. That is due to the increased contagion rate of the variants, first Delta, then Omicron, over the original Wuhan virus. But without the vaccines, that case number could have been as much as 100,000,000 now. Those additional 20,000,000 cases would mean an additional 244,000 deaths at the current 1.22% CFR or 360,000 at the original 1.8%. Thus, somewhere in-between those numbers, or about 300,000 American lives have been saved by the vaccines.

 

      However, the current case numbers are most certainly underreported: 

      Home test kits became widely available last year, and demand took off when the omicron wave hit. But many people who take home tests don’t report results to anyone. Nor do health agencies attempt to gather them (Trib Live. Home).

 

      In other words, many who test positive but have mild symptoms don’t bother to contact a doctor, so their cases are never counted. It would be difficult to estimate how much of a difference this would make in the case count and resultant CFR. But if the case count is significantly higher, that would mean the CFR would be significantly lower. That would in turn mean, even more lives have been saved by the vaccines, especially since most of those with those mild symptoms would be those who have been vaccinated.

      Moreover, I previously calculated that when we reach one million Covid deaths, 341,200 of that 1,000,000 number will have died needlessly due to not receiving the vaccines. Add that to the 300,000 American lives that have been saved by the vaccines, and at least 640,000 American lives could have been saved overall if it were not for vaccine hesitancy. That leads to the next section.

 

Covid Lies on the Right Could Give the Midterms to Democrats

 

      Who are those who are dying needlessly from Covid due to vaccine hesitancy? I have previously claimed it is mostly conservatives who are vaccine hesitant. Assuming Republicans are generally conservative and Democrats are mostly liberal, I now have statistical evidence for that claim. “In January, the Pew Research Center found that 33 percent of Republicans had not received a vaccine, compared to 10 percent of Democrats” (CQ-Roll Call).

       I contend the reason for this disparate vaccine use is the lies told on conservative (right-wing) media and social media about Covid and the vaccines. I have discussed all of this previously. Evangelical churches are also a hotbed of Covid and vaccines misinformation.

      The real-world result of this misinformation is the resultant needless Covid deaths are much greater among Republicans than among Democrats. I have postulated such previously but now have statistical evidence of such.

 

      Doctors and demographers recently noticed another tragic example of how polarization shapes America: The pandemic has killed more people in the nation’s Republican enclaves than its Democratic strongholds. They explain the gap by pointing to Republican resistance to vaccines and the GOP’s more cavalier approach to combating the virus in general….

      The Pew Research Center similarly found that more Americans died in counties that supported Trump than those that backed Biden. Comparing the 20 percent of Americans each living in counties that Trump or Biden took by the highest margins in 2020, Pew found the reddest places suffered nearly 70,000 more deaths from covid-19 since the pandemic began. And overall, the covid-19 death rate in all counties Trump won was 326 per 100,000, higher than 258 per 100,000 for Biden (CQ-Roll Call).

 

      To be clear, these numbers are based on looking at very red (Republican) counties versus very blue (Democrat) counties. But the numbers are striking. There is a very clear difference in the death rates in those red counties versus blue counties, to the tune of 68 fewer Americans per 100,000 dying in the blue counties. That is needlessly tragic; but again, it is due to the Covid misinformation that circulates widely on the right.

      Politically, Republicans have shot themselves in the foot with this Covid misinformation. Given Biden’s failing presidency, a “red wave” could be expected in the November midterm elections. However, that might not be the case, as where these disparate Covid deaths could make a difference is in purple districts and even states.

      For those who don’t know, a purple district is one that is about evenly split between Republicans and Democrats, so sometimes it votes Republican and sometimes Democrat. But with more Republicans than Democrats dying from Covid, that population shift could swing these purple districts and states to the Democrat candidates, enabling Democrats to maintain control of the US House and Senate and win more state and local elections.

 

      Those findings suggest many more Republicans — tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands — have died of covid-19 than Democrats, leading some to wonder with some morbidity what the political impact will be. Will Democrats, facing the normal midterm election headwinds plus high inflation, do surprisingly well in 2022 for the simple, sad fact that there are fewer Republicans? ...

      The mortality disparity between the parties is large enough to potentially swing an election — the 2016 election was decided by just under 80,000 votes spread among Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. So, could it also be enough to throw off the midterm polls? (CQ-Roll Call).

 

      To be clear, the reason the polls could be off is posters are assuming an equal number of Republicans and Democrats in traditionally purple districts, so they question an equal number of Republicans and Democrats. But due to more Republicans than Democrats dying from Covid, Democrats could very well outnumber Republicans in those districts. Consequently, even though a poll might show the Republican candidate in the lead, the Democrat could very well win due to that population shift.

 

More Evidence of Vaccine Effectiveness

 

      As mentioned, I have already provided much statistical evidence of  the effectiveness of the vaccines. But the following from the website for my local newspaper is very instructive. These statistics are for Allegheny County, PA, where I live and where Pittsburgh is located.

 

      In Allegheny County, the overall rate of hospitalization for covid-19 is 72.4 per 10,000 residents. For county residents who are fully vaccinated and have also received a booster shot, the rate of hospitalization is 10.7 per 10,000 residents. That’s compared to a rate of 44.7 per 10,000 for people just fully vaccinated and 32.8 per 10,000 for those who are partially vaccinated. For those who are not vaccinated, the hospitalization rate is 251 per 10,000 Allegheny County residents.

      The rate of death among covid-19 patients reflects a similar pattern. The overall death rate in the county is 27 per 10,000. For those fully vaccinated with a booster, the death rate is 1.8 per 10,000, according to the data. For unvaccinated people, the rate rises to 47.8 deaths per 10,000 residents, [Allegheny County Health Director Dr. Deborah] Bogen said.

 

      To make this clearer, let me put it in chart form:

Vaccine Status                    Hospitalizations/ 10,000

Fully vaccinated and boosted:            10.7

Fully vaccinated, not boosted:            44.7

Partially vaccinated:                           32.8

Unvaccinated:                                 251.0

 

Vaccine Status                         Deaths/ 10,000

Fully vaccinated and boosted:             1.8

Unvaccinated:                                   47.8

 

      I am not sure of the reason for the anomaly of the hospitalization rate being less for partially vaccinated than fully vaccinated but not boosted, but the pattern is clear. Those who are fully vaccinated and boosted are far less likely to be hospitalized or die from Covid than the unvaccinated. Moreover, “Allegheny Health Network this week released data that officials said showed a majority of post-vaccination covid-19 deaths involved older, immunocompromised adults” (Trib Live. Pa. touts).

      These types of numbers could be reported for counties throughout the USA. Consider the following for a county 2,500 miles away from my home county.

Stats from a CDC report from researchers at L.A. County Dept of Public Health between 7 Nov 2021 and 8 Jan 2022:

 

Per 100,000            Unvaccinated      2 shots              3 shots

Diagnosed                6,743.5            2,355.6             1,889.0

Hospitalized                187.0                 35.0                    8.2

ICU                             33.7                    4.0                    1.5

Died                            20.2                    1.7                    0.6 (ABC News. Officials).

 

      The differences are again striking. Again, these types of comparisons could be done for every county in the USA. And these differences are proof positive of the effectiveness of the vaccines. Also, do not miss the “Diagnosed” line. That is another way of saying “Cases.” If you add up the 2 shots and 3 shots numbers, that comes to 4,244.6 cases/ 100,000 or 2,498.9 less than the number for those unvaccinated. That is a 37% reduction in the infection rate of the vaccinated versus the unvaccinated. That is somewhat less than my assumed 50% reduction rate, but it is still significant. Thus, again, the vaccines do reduce the risk of infection.

 

A Second Booster?

 

      However, despite this great effectiveness of being vaccinated and boosted, there is now talk of a second booster shot or a fourth shot total for those who got the two-shot mRNA vaccines (Pfizer or Moderna) for their initial series (ABC News. Officials).

      I predicted back at the start of the pandemic and the first talk of vaccines that yearly boosters might be needed, just as they are for the flu. But the CDC has now authorized second boosters for those over 50 years old for four months after their initial booster. I (at age 61) and my 86-year-old dad both got fully vaccine in the spring of 2021. My dad then got boosted in November and me in December 2021. I said back then I would be open to us getting another booster in the autumn of this year (2022), but not before. And many authorities agree with that assessment.

      The following is part of a Q&A on this topic between the website for my local newspaper and “Pittsburgh-based infectious disease expert Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.”

 

Question: Is a fourth covid shot for people 50 and over necessary, in your opinion?

 

Answer: Not as a universal recommendation, but there are segments of the population for which it is indicated. The better question is who benefits from a fourth dose of the covid vaccine?

 

Q: So, who should get it?

 

A:  In my analysis the immunocompromised population, which has been eligible to get a fourth dose since October, should be the ones prioritized for fourth doses. Outside of that, there’s not much data to show a strong benefit, but there are likely some other high risk individuals – the extremely elderly, people with high risk conditions – that may benefit. But the benefit is going to be marginal on top of the third dose (Trib Live. 5).

 

      I agree with this assessment. If I and my relatively healthy dad get a fourth shot, it won’t be until autumn. I see no need for it at this time, with Covid at a low ebb and with summer coming with mostly outdoor activities. But come autumn, the holidays, and indoor activities, it might make sense. But it would make more sense if they updated the vaccines for Omicron or whatever variant is circulating at that time.

 

      A commenter on an ABC news article said about the same thing: 

    I also did the booster in November... I do not plan to get any other boosters before the Fall... I can see getting a booster right before we get into the winter Months where folks are gathering for Holidays and being stuck inside during the Winter months but every 4 months sounds a bit ridiculous to me as well (ABC News. Officials).

 

      The reason for these disparate attitudes towards boosters has to do with the proper attitude towards Covid at this point in the pandemic. Should we be trying to prevent infection as much as possible or just severe cases of Covid? I have advocated for the latter since the start of the pandemic, and the afore-quoted infectious disease expert concurs:

 

Q: The Biden administration said it has set a goal of preventing severe disease caused by covid-19, and it’s not focusing as much on the total case numbers. What are your thoughts about that approach?

 

A: That’s the approach I’ve advocated from the very beginning…. A better gauge of where you are in the pandemic is to look at hospitalizations and severe disease – because that’s always been the goal of what we’re trying to prevent (Trib Live. 5).

 

 

      “As the focus shifts to severe disease, the day-to-day tally of cases has less importance,” Adalja said. “Hospitalizations are an unequivocal indicator of a community’s burden of severe covid-19. Cases are always going to be there with an endemic respiratory virus — the goal is to shift cases to the mild spectrum. The focus always should’ve been primarily on hospitalizations as a function of hospital capacity in a given geographic area” (Trib Live. Home).

 

Herd Immunity

 

      From the start of the pandemic, I have said the way to end the pandemic would be herd immunity, with that herd immunity being a combination of natural and vaccine immunity. But we were lied to back then and told it would only take about 70% of the population to be so immune to reach herd immunity. The real percentage is more like 95%. But it is possible we have already reached even that high level here in Allegheny County.

 

      Allegheny County recorded its first covid death on March 21, 2020. Since then, 3,218 more have died across the county — more than four people per day, Bogen noted grimly….

      Now, two years later, nearly all of the county’s roughly 1.25 million residents have some form of immunity: 970,000 people are fully vaccinated, and around 262,000 have contracted the virus at some point, said County Executive Rich Fitzgerald (Trib Live. Allegheny County).

 

      There are some who believe we are at similar numbers across the country: 

      “But the interesting thing is – and he [Anthony Fauci] won’t admit this to the public – if you take a sample of blood from 1,000 people in the United States, and you measure to see if they had antibodies to the virus or antibodies to [sic, from] the vaccine, it’s over 95%,” said [Senator Rand] Paul [R. KY].

      “That’s why we are doing better with this,” he continued. “We have developed immunity either from having the disease or being vaccinated, and that’s why we are doing better, in addition to the fact that the virus has mutated to a less virulent or less deadly form. But he won’t admit it because he’s so caught up in putting stickers on your floor, putting masks on your face, putting goggles on you” (Red State. Rand).

 

      Paul’s criticism of Fauci aside, he does have a point. Most likely we are at or near herd immunity. That is why hospitalization have already dropped dramatically.

 

      The number of patients hospitalized with the coronavirus has fallen more than 90% in more than two months, and some hospitals are going days without a single COVID-19 patient in the ICU for the first time since early 2020…

      Hospitalizations are now at their lowest point since summer 2020, when comprehensive national data first became available (Newsmax).

 

      However, this does not mean Covid is over. We are poised to have another surge in cases from the Omicron subvariant BA.2: 

      With coronavirus cases rising in parts of Europe and Asia, scientists worry that an extra-contagious version of the omicron variant may soon push cases up in the United States too. Experts are also keeping their eyes on another mutant: a rare delta-omicron hybrid that they say doesn’t pose much of a threat right now but shows how wily the coronavirus can be.

      The U.S. will likely see an uptick in cases caused by the omicron descendant BA.2 starting in the next few weeks, according to Dr. Eric Topol, head of Scripps Research Translational Institute. “It’s inevitable we will see a BA.2 wave here,” he said (AP. Scientists).

 

      However, I doubt we will see a surge in hospitalizations and deaths, at least not in the numbers we have seen previously due to that near herd immunity. And those we do see being hospitalized and dying will be primarily among those who are not vaccinated and do not have natural immunity.

 

      U.S. cases, hospitalizations and deaths continue to decline. BA.2 is about 50% more transmissible than the original strain of omicron, but it doesn’t cause more severe illness or evade immunity from vaccinations or an earlier infection, [Anthony] Fauci said (Bloomberg News. U.S.).

 

      But if you, the reader, do not have natural or vaccine immunity, then please seriously consider getting vaccinated. You do not want to be added to the waning Covid hospitalization and death counts.

      For the rest of us, all that I have talked about throughout the pandemic hold true—the best way to protect yourself against severe illness from Covid is a healthy lifestyle, along with possibly taking vitamin D supplements (or getting adequate sunshine). Getting an annual booster shot might be added to that. But the jury is still out whether that will be needed or not.

 

Masks Revisited

 

      I was in favor of masks at one point in the pandemic. But that was before vaccines become readily available, and only if they were worn properly and were the right type, which is to say, surgical or N95 masks, not cloth masks.

      But now, masks are of little value. With near herd immunity, community spread is just not happening much anymore. As such, only those who are immunocompromised or are otherwise at high risk of severe illness from Covid should still continue to wear masks. But for the rest of us, they are just kabuki theater, as Rand Paul puts it.

      Consider, for instance, my recent trip to the dentist. The sign on the door read, “Masks are required to enter,” so I put one on as I entered the office. But what bothered me was ahead of me was a lady with a cute little daughter of about 5-years old. The mother had to ask the receptionist for masks for both of them. It was kind of cute but also disturbing to watch the 5-year-old try to put the mask on. She first had it over her eyes, then off of her nose. Then she almost got it right, but she looked terribly uncomfortable.

      I sat across from her in the waiting room. In the past, I would often “play” with little kids in such situations, waving and smiling at them. They will usually act a bit embarrassed, pull back some, hide their faces, but then get friendly, wave, and smile back. I think my beard confuses them. But now, with both of us wearing masks, she couldn’t see my beard nor smile, so I couldn’t even get her attention. So sad.

      I was then called back. When I sat in the dentist chair, I was told to take my mask off. I left if off as the hygienist performed a “deep cleaning.” That took about 45 minutes. I then got up and walked all of five feet to the receptionist’s desk to schedule my next appointment. When I did, she asked me to my mask back on.

      Think about that for a moment. How was it safe for me to lay there for 45 minutes without a mask, but now, five feet away, it was unsafe? It just makes no sense, and even less so with again such a higher rate of community immunity.

 

Conclusion/ Planned Book

 

      This will be my last article on the Coronavirus pandemic. I plan on gathering together all of my Coronavirus writings, updating them, and publishing them as a book. Any additional updates will have to wait for the book to be published. The book is tentatively to be titled Coronavirus Fearmongering on the Left, Covid-19 Lies on the Right: What the Authorities Got Correct and Incorrect about SARS-CoV-2. That rather lengthy title should give the reader an idea of the tone for the book. Be looking for it in the coming months.

      That said, when we reach that horrific one million Covid deaths milestone, 600,000 of those deaths will have occurred during the Biden presidency. I discuss his many missteps in regard to Covid that will lead to the USA reaching that horrifying milestone in my new book Joe Biden Tweets During the First Year of His Failing Presidency, Volume One, Reversing Trump, while Dividing and Destroying America; January through June 2021. Check it out.

      In the meantime, I hope my Coronavirus writings have helped some to wade through the massive amount of misinformation that has circulated throughout this pandemic. If they have done so, then it has been worth the effort.

 

References:

      ABC News. Officials say everyone over 50 can get a 4th COVID shot, but 'especially important' for higher risk people (and the comments section).

      AP. Scientists worry virus variant may push up covid cases in U.S. (via Trib Live).

      Bloomberg News. U.S. covid infections likely to rise again, Dr. Anthony Fauci says.

      CQ-Roll Call. More Republicans have died of covid-19. Does that mean the polls are off?. (via Trib Live).

      New York Times. Coronavirus in the U.S.: Latest Map and Case Count.

      New York Times. U.S. Covid Death Toll Surpasses 900,000 as Omicron’s Spread Slows.

      Newsmax. Number of COVID Patients in US Hospitals Reaches Record Low.

      Red State. Rand Paul, Once Again, Blows Fauci's New Old Fearmongering Narrative out of the Water.

      Trib Live. 5 questions with an expert: Who needs a covid booster?

      Trib Live. Allegheny County to rely more on wastewater surveillance to calculate spread of covid-19.

      Trib Live. Home testing, new variant add uncertainty to latest round of covid infections.

      Trib Live. Pa. touts high covid vaccine rate using questionable data.

      Yahoo! Omicron BA.2 Variant Now More Than Half Of All New Covid Cases Across Large Swath In U.S., Per CDC.

 

 

 

One Million Covid Deaths in the USA (Well Almost, and It Could be Worse). Copyright 2022 by Gary F. Zeolla (www.Zeolla.org).

Joe Biden Tweets During the First Year of His Failing Presidency, Volume One
Reversing Trump, while Dividing and Destroying America, January through June 2021

      Biden can be very disingenuous in his tweets and his claims about his various plans and polices. He thinks they are all grand and good for the country. But in fact, it is those very plans and policies that is causing his presidency to be failing just over five months in. Those plans and polices are also dividing and destroying American. Biden’s early actions also set the stage for more failures later in his presidency, so it is important to remember them.

The above article was posted on this website April 4, 2022.

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