The COVID Digest, 05May2022
One million deaths
One million deaths
We crossed a somber milestone this week - at least one million dead Americans due to COVID-19. And this is likely an undercount. Globally, the World Health Organization estimates the death toll is 15 million people.
The graph below comes from the CDC and it shows the number of deaths weekly in the US (bars). The orange line shows the average expected numbers of deaths and the red line represents the threshold where weekly deaths are considered “excess” or unexpected by past trends. You’ll see that any time the US has surpassed the excess threshold there is a plus sign associated with that bar. It can take as much as 8 weeks for deaths to be reported, so the most recent two months that show a dropoff is sort of the window of uncertainty. What we can see is that since the start of the pandemic we have only had a few weeks where we were below the excess threshold. Bars that are a mix of blue and green mean something. The deaths of that total associated with COVID-19 are represented by the blue part of the bar.
You’ll notice that since January 2018, the expected deaths increases and decreases seasonally, with peaks in the winter months. That’s when influenza and other respiratory viruses are most active. So for those who like to compare COVID-19 to influenza, you can see what influenza usually does to the American population and what COVID-19 has done to the same population since March 2020. It’s a lot of death that didn’t need to happen. For example, let’s look at the excess mortality (deaths) per million people since the start of the pandemic. The graph below shows excess deaths for some of the other countries that have been hit hard by COVID-19. You can see that the United States has a much higher excess death rate than other nations. For a time, the US was comparable to the United Kingdom. But similarity really ended in the spring of 2021.
Then, when you compare to countries like Canada, Australia and Japan, you can see that the excess deaths that America experienced were not inevitable. This was a choice. This was a catastrophic policy failure.
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