More Americans have died of Covid in 2021 than 2020, despite vaccines: CDC data

Experts say low vaccination rates, relaxed rules, and the Delta variant are driving the continued challenges with containing the coronavirus

Josh Marcus
San Francisco
Wednesday 24 November 2021 19:00
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Thanksgiving COVID conversations

Despite living in one of the richest nations in the world, home to the pharmaceutical companies that have developed some of the world’s leading Covid vaccines, more Americans have died of Covid in 2021 compared to 2020—and things are only going to get worse during the holiday season.

As of Tuesday, 386,233 people have died of Covid in 2021, according to the CDC, compared to 385,343 Covid deaths in 2020. The US is on track to have 13 per cent of its overall deaths this year from coronavirus, an increase from last year’s 11 per cent portion.

A combination of factors including comparatively low vaccination rates, relaxed Covid policies and personal precautions, and the highly contagious Delta variant, are driving this grim trend, according to experts.

Right now, about 60 per cent of Americans are fully vaccinated, the lowest level in the G7 well below the 85 or 90 per cent needed to achieve “endemicity,” a status where the disease still circulates at a low level but doesn’t cause widespread illness.

“We have the very unfortunate situation of not a high level of vaccine coverage and basically, in most places, a return to normal behaviors that put people at greater risk of coming in contact with the virus,” Jennifer Nuzzo, an epidemiologist and senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, told The New York Times. “If you take no protections whatsoever, you have a virus that is capable of moving faster and you have dangerous gaps in immunity, that adds up to, unfortunately, a lot of continued serious illness and deaths.”

Some of the Biden administration’s key proposals to slow the spread of coronavirus have also faced strong opposition.

A federal appeals court blocked a White House mandate earlier this month that would require employees at private businesses to be vaccinated or submit to regular Covid testing, calling it a “fatally flawed” remedy that was “staggeringly overbroad,” raising “serious constitutional concerns.”

This week, the American Medical Association, the largest group of doctors in the US, wrote into the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in support of the policy, arguing, “The more workers who get vaccinated, the closer we are to slowing the spread of the virus and creating a safer environment” because “immediate, widespread vaccination against COVID-19 is the surest way to protect the U.S. workforce and the public and to end this costly pandemic.”

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