February 5, 2022

COVID DEATHS: We’re Number One! USA! USA! USA!

by Hal Gershowitz

Comments Below

Then again, being number one in COVID deaths among the world’s wealthiest nations is nothing about which to celebrate.

The data, however, are irrefutable. We blew it and continue to blow it, and it seems tens of millions of our fellow citizens are apparently delighted that our freedom to choose in America has trumped the welfare of millions of other Americans. The freedom to choose, which has made America the envy of the world in so many respects, provides little about which to celebrate when it comes to our response to COVID.

Nearly one million of our fellow Americans are no longer with us; many lost because not enough of us were willing to pitch in during one of the worst viral contagion attacks in history. An extraordinary vaccine, a remarkably effective weapon against severe illness and death, is available and, to a shocking degree, ignored by millions of Americans. That almost all COVID hospitalizations and deaths are among the unvaccinated speaks volumes. It is a sad story.

It is a credit to the Trump Administration that the vaccine was available so quickly. Decades of research into the development of mRNA vaccines paid off when the United States pushed the pedal to the metal and committed nearly $2 billion to finance the production and nationwide delivery of millions of doses of the Pfizer vaccine, pending FDA approval. That approval came on December 11, 2020. Pfizer and its partner BioNTech did not accept federal money to develop their vaccine, but Moderna, Johnson and Johnson, and others did. All in all, the Trump Administration’s operation Warp Speed committed over $12.5 billion to vaccine makers, a fabulous decision that paid off big time. And, yes, the extraordinary and swift rollout of vaccines by the Biden Administration has also been historic and has, undoubtedly, saved countless lives.

There is, however, an unfortunate reality to an otherwise remarkable story. History will not accord us high marks for pulling together during a national emergency. This has not been our finest hour. We’ve had the tools but not the will to do much better. Among the ten wealthiest nations of the world, we’re number one as the least vaccinated and, concurrently, number one as the most ravaged by COVID. We’ve achieved the unenviable distinction of losing 267 Americans per 100,000 to COVID. Compare that to Canada with less than 100 deaths per 100,000, Australia with about 15 deaths per 100,000, or Japan with slightly under 15 deaths per 100,000.

We rank dead last when measuring the fully vaccinated among the ten wealthiest nations studied. Among the ten most affluent nations, including the United States, Japan, Germany, Britain, Canada, Australia, France, Belgium, Sweden, and the Netherlands, we whimper in at less than 65% fully vaccinated. In contrast, all the other wealthy nations have achieved a fully vaccinated rate of at least 70 to 80 percent. When the United States is measured against the rest of the wealthiest countries for booster shots, the picture is even worse. As of January 31, 2022, we had achieved a pathetic 27% boost rate, ranking us in ninth place out of the ten wealthiest countries studied.

It is so sad. A just-completed analysis of data through January 8, 2022, conducted by researchers from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, reveals that unvaccinated people were 3.6 times more likely to contract COVID and 23 times more likely to be hospitalized than people who were fully vaccinated with a booster. The unvaccinated were also twice as likely to get COVID and 5.3 times more likely to be hospitalized than people who were fully vaccinated but not yet boosted.

In the 14 days ending December 11, 2021, before Omicron took over as the dominant strain, COVID case rates were 12.3 times higher among unvaccinated individuals than those vaccinated and boosted. Hospitalization rates among the unvaccinated were 83 times higher. Unvaccinated adults were 23 times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID during the Omicron wave than adults who were vaccinated and boosted. And as of January 17 in Orange County, California, 86% of hospitalizations for COVID were among the unvaccinated.

Cold Springs Harbor Laboratory, a top-notch, elite non-profit institution that boasts eight Nobel Prize winners and is considered the top academic research institution by the scientific journal Nature, reported that in one study during the last four months of 2021, of 4571 in-patient hospitalizations for COVID only 65 patients were fully vaccinated and boosted. In other words, about 98% were not fully vaccinated and boosted.

With the exception of individuals lucky enough to have a natural immunity to COVID, the unvaccinated, of course, place themselves at greater risk for infection with COVID. As such, they become a major source of COVID proliferation, which means the unvaccinated become a prime source of new COVID mutations, possibly leading to new variants which could escape current tools for antiviral vaccination or treatment.

So, let’s consider for a moment the impact of the unvaccinated on the country’s hospital workers and on our hospitals’ ability to function for COVID and non-COVID patients alike. In the United States, for the week ending February 1, 2022, about 16,000 primarily unvaccinated people per day were being admitted to hospitals infected with COVID.

Last month the California Hospital Association warned that California’s hospital system was in danger of collapse as skyrocketing COVID cases, along with other severely ill patients, as well as sick staff, pushed hospitals past their capabilities. Hospitals expect the number of COVID-positive patients to triple, with the surge in infections and hospitalizations expected to last until the end of February.

Last month, the state health department projected that the surge in California would peak at 40% more COVID hospitalizations than last winter, bringing the daily total number of hospitalized patients to well over 70,000. State projections also indicate 7,000 patients will require ICU hospitalization, which is twice as many as last year.

Nationwide, it is estimated that 20% of our health workforce have called it quits during the pandemic, with hundreds of workers calling out sick because of Omicron. A third of California hospitals have reported “critical staffing shortages.”

There is a sameness to people’s reasons for not getting vaccinated.

Some believe, quite incorrectly, that research on mRNA vaccines is too new and too rushed. mRNA research has been underway for decades. COVID-19 represented an ideal opportunity to deploy an outstanding scientific achievement.

Some are truly afraid of the new mRNA vaccine, and no one should be forced to do anything that frightens them, regardless of how unfounded their fright may be.

Some say they prefer the traditional rather than this new-fangled vaccine. In other words, they would rather have a weakened version of the actual disease-causing virus rather than a much more targeted vaccine that is focused only on that small part of the virus that enables it to attach to and invade a human cell.

Some say, “my body, my decision.” And they are correct, but that doesn’t mean their decision isn’t having a tragic effect on so many of their fellow Americans, especially those who work in hospitals trying to save a largely unvaccinated patient population. It also doesn’t mean they should be welcomed anywhere they choose to go.

Defeating COVID means we all have to pull together. It can be done. We’ve done it before when we’ve faced other crises. Come on, America. We can do better.

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12 responses to “COVID DEATHS: We’re Number One! USA! USA! USA!”

  1. LEY says:

    Do you have any statistics by race and age as to the % who got vaccinated? Also what is the impact of our southern border migration?

    • Hal Gershowitz says:

      According to December 2021 US Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey:
      Unvaccinated Adults Younger, Less Educated
      Adults who had not received any doses of the COVID vaccine differed from those who had received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine across several measures.
      • They were younger, on average, than those who had been vaccinated. Roughly 75% of the unvaccinated were under age 50. Among the vaccinated, less than half were under age 50.
      • They had lower levels of education, on average, than those who were vaccinated. Survey respondents who had received at least one dose were twice as likely as the unvaccinated to have a college degree or higher.
      • They were much less likely than vaccinated adults to be married (46% vs 56%).
      Regarding immigration policy at the southern border:

      The Trump and Biden administrations have expelled migrants over 1.5 million times without affording them the opportunity to request U.S. asylum, citing a series of CDC orders that argue the expulsions are needed to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 in border processing facilities.
      The latest order authorizing the border expulsions, signed by CDC Director Rochelle Walensky in August 2021, instructed public health officials to evaluate the need for the policy every 60 days. Two reviews last fall led the agency to keep the order in place.
      As of last Thursday, a CDC spokesperson said the agency decided to continue invoking the expulsion authority, known as Title 42, after a third 60-day assessment that was due on February 2.
      “At this time, it remains in effect,” the spokesperson told CBS News, referring to the Title 42 order. “The current reassessment examined the present impact of the pandemic throughout the United States and at the U.S. borders, taking special note of the surge in cases and hospitalizations since December due to the highly transmissible Omicron variant.”
      The CDC, the spokesperson noted, “continues to emphasize the need for testing, vaccination, and other mitigation measures at border facilities beyond the use of the Order.”
      The unprecedented Title 42 policy, has allowed the U.S. to “expel” migrants to Mexico or their home countries without allowing them to see a judge or an asylum officer, safeguards in U.S. law the government has argued it can suspend during a global pandemic.

  2. I love when unvaccinated people say My Body My Decision
    But when it comes to Rowe Vs Wade then my Body My Decision doesn’t exist

  3. Perry says:

    Perhaps if we had not put the sick with Covid into rest homes because of over crowding and if
    we had used Ivermectin rather than being the slave of Big Pharma do you believe the death toll
    would be less? I am appalled at the lack of coherent information on the plague and on the
    leadership of Dr. Faucci in particular.
    Mandates have caused as much harm and the teacher’s union response to closing schools has damaged children as well.
    Gov. DeSantis of Florida going against the grain has had a robust policy and not enforced mandates and his schools are open and his State statistics are average.
    It is rather strange we read about statistics but we don’t have a fair investigation into the cause
    of the outbreak.
    Do you believe Open Borders where 160 nations have come in undocumented has anything to do with the large numbers of infected?

  4. Perry Altshule says:

    My take in most things tends to be Libertarian but in this case “the responsibility” does not end with your decision
    It is a non starter to say my body my decision during times of a modern pandemic

  5. Stuart Goldfine says:

    When only 64% of Americans are vaccinated, that is a poor picture of America. We ran at 100% for polio shots in the 1950’s, but today the Internet is pouring out misinformation to those fools who believe everything they hear. Major athletes should be doing positive public messages for vaccinations. After a year, no one has an excuse for not getting their shots.

    Under Biden, another 600,000 have died, yet the media still crucifies Donald Trump. Biden needed to call these athletes, Hispanic leaders, college leaders, to do some public service announcements to curb the silly Internet. We need 80 to 90% vaccination rate or America will be locked up forever.

    Maybe send out a message to those that are not vaccinated, that if you are hospitalized with Covid and have not been vaccinated, you will be responsible for $10,000 copay for being hospitalized. Hit them in their pocketbook.

    Also, no illegal alien from Mexico or Central America, cannot be resettled in America until they have had 2 Covid vaccinations and the booster shot too.

  6. Response to Perry Green:
    According to the Food and Drug Administration, current studies of Ivermectin as a treatment for COVID-19 has, thus far, NOT found Ivermectin to be an effective treatment for COVID-19 disease. Ivermectin is an effective treatment for worm infestation in animals, and, when compounded for humans, effective in treating certain intestinal parasitic disease, but not for treating COVID-19.

  7. LWY says:

    You really did not answer the questions raised by LEY. What % of blacks and hispanics have not been vaccinated vs whites? Out of the millions of illegal immigrants who have entered our country, what % have been vaccinated?

    • Hal Gershowitz says:

      According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, as of January 31, 2022, White people accounted for two-thirds (66%) of people who are unvaccinated.1 Over the course of the vaccination rollout, Black and Hispanic people have been less likely than their White counterparts to receive a vaccine, but these disparities have narrowed over time and been eliminated for Hispanic people. With booster shot eligibility expanded to all individuals ages 12 and older and children ages 5-11 eligible for vaccination, ensuring equity in the uptake of booster shots and vaccinations among children is also important. However, to date, limited data are available to examine racial disparities among booster shot recipients and children.
      According to CBS News, during 2021 the Department of Homeland Security set up a system to test migrants who are not expelled to Mexico or their home country under the emergency Title 42 policy.
      Unaccompanied children, whom the Biden administration exempted from the Title 42 expulsions, are tested at least twice for the coronavirus after being transferred to HHS housing facilities. Migrant adults transferred to long-term ICE detention facilities are also tested at intake.
      While some families with children continue to be expelled, the vast majority have been allowed to stay in the U.S. in recent months while their cases are adjudicated. On the other hand, U.S. border officials have expelled 82% of the single adult migrants they have encountered since January, according to CBP (Customs and Border Patrol) figures. I could find no comprehensive data regarding the extent to which immigrants have been released into the United States without vaccinations.

      • sheila says:

        The only problem with Patricia Levy’s argument is that she had to get covid before she developed the immunity she professes to have — and nobody knows how long this type of immunity lasts. Further, while she’s contagious, even with a mild case, she can spread it to others, who might not be so lucky to survive as she was. There is also something called “long covid” – in which survivors experience brain fog, exhaustion, joint pain and other symptoms for weeks after so called recovery.

        No human has a “natural immunity” to covid – any more than you have a natural immunity to polio or smallpox or yellow fever. So why get vaccinated?– If Ms. Levy really had a natural immunity, she would not have contracted the disease. Who wants to take the chance of getting covid if they are unvaccinated on the hope that they will not die from it? It’s a spin of the roulette wheel. In my mind, this is not a persuasive argument against getting vaccinated.

        If everyone had the opportunity to view an ICU covid ward (see Death, Through a Nurse’s Eyes, a 15 minute video in the NY Times, February 21, 2021), I doubt there would be any unvaccinated adults in the country.

  8. Patricia Levy says:

    Before judging people who have chosen not to get the vaccine, you should know that natural immunity is superior to the vaccine and there are many adverse effects from the vaccine. Many of my vaccinated friends have suffered much more than I did when they got covid. There are many other ways to treat covid that are much safer than the vaccine, but the media has done a great job at making people think that they are going to die if they get covid. One good thing about covid is that it cured the flu. No body died from the flu these last few years. I don’t believe the number of deaths from covid that are reported because if you were in a car accident and tested positive with the faulty covid tests they would put covid on your death certificate because the hospitals were paid more money for a covid death. I had covid over a year ago and I had my antibiotics checked by my doctor who was fully vaccinated. When he compared my test with his I had more antibodies after a year than he did with recent vaccinations. It is unfortunate that so many professionals have been censored because people are not getting the true information on covid and they are blindly rolling up their sleeves and taking a vaccine that is still in the experimental stages.

  9. Response to Pat Levy:
    I display Pat Levy’s comment because I consider it eloquently instructive of why many choose not to be vaccinated. As stated early in this week’s column, everyone is free to choose.

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