Study: Over 1 Million Hospitalizations, Hundreds of Thousands of Deaths Saved by U.S. Vaccine Rollout
I firmly believe, based on the Trump administration’s chaotic response to the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, that President Joe Biden’s leadership and accelerated action during the vaccination rollout prevented unchecked deaths and illness in this country, as a new study from the Yale School of Public Health and Commonwealth Fund shows.
That’s not a popular opinion among my Republican colleagues, many who still believe Trump when he says he won in November, but there comes a time when politics has to take a back seat to the health of the nation. The pandemic should never have become a political issue; we all should have been working together to save all of us.
Here are the eye-opening highlights of the study that took place from December 12, 2020, through July 1, 2021:
1) Without a vaccination program, by the end of June 2021 there would have been approximately 279,000 additional deaths and up to 1.25 million additional hospitalizations.
2) If the U.S. had achieved only half the actual pace of vaccination, there would have been nearly 121,000 additional deaths and more than 450,000 additional hospitalizations.
3) If there had been no vaccination program, daily deaths from COVID-19 potentially would have jumped to nearly 4,500 deaths per day during a second “2021 spring surge” — eclipsing the observed daily peak of 4,000 during the first 2021 winter surge.
The study further concluded, as the chart above shows: “The vaccination campaign markedly curbed the U.S. pandemic. If there had been no COVID-19 vaccination program, daily deaths from COVID-19 would have created a second wave (a “spring surge”) — of nearly 4,500 deaths per day — potentially larger than the first wave of the year, which peaked at 4,000 deaths per day in January. Most of the additional deaths during the second 2021 wave (the shaded area of the exhibit here) would have occurred because of an increase and spread of the more transmissible Alpha variant.”
This chart shows that “if the pace of vaccinations each day had been only half of what was actually achieved, the daily rate of deaths would still have exceeded the observed rate of deaths.”
From the study: “This chart compares the cumulative number of averted deaths (in thousands) under the two counterfactual scenarios. In the absence of a vaccination program, we estimate that there would have been approximately 279,000 additional deaths (above the approximately 304,000 deaths recorded since vaccination began). If the vaccination program had achieved only half the daily pace there would have been nearly 121,000 additional deaths compared to what actually occurred.”
The conclusion of the Yale School of Public Health and Commonwealth Fund notes that the U.S. had the highest daily Covid-19 cases in the world for much of 2020 and the beginning of 2021, which was under Donald J. Trump’s watch. He injected politics into a pandemic situation causing a divide in the country that still exists almost eight months after he was defeated in November 2020, and the loss of over 600,000 American lives as well as millions of hospitalizations, some of which resulted in long-term and debilitating health issues.
Under the Biden administration, vaccinations ramped up across the nation:
The swift early rollout of the vaccine program, which ramped up during February and March and exceeded 3.3 million doses administered per day in April 2021, played a critical role in curtailing the pandemic.
Our results demonstrate the extraordinary impact of rapidly vaccinating a large share of the population to prevent hospitalizations and deaths. The speed of vaccination seems to have prevented another potential wave of the U.S. pandemic in April that might otherwise have been triggered by the Alpha and Gamma variants. Additional new variants such as delta will pose a special threat to unvaccinated populations in coming months. A renewed commitment to expanding vaccine access will be crucial to achieving higher levels of vaccination necessary to control of the pandemic and prevent avoidable suffering, particularly for those in historically underserved groups and areas of the U.S. with low vaccination rates. [emphasis added]
Read more here for additional information from the study.
We’re not out of the Covid woods yet in this country. With the delta variant on the rise and vaccinations stalled at a point where willing participants have been inoculated while a large segment of the population is still resisting, the Biden administration is beginning a new door-to-door program to educate residents about the vaccine.
Door-to-door Covid education meets resistance from some Republicans
The door-t0-door visits have, predictably, met Republican officials’ resistance just as we’ve seen through every step of this process. In Texas, it didn’t take long for electeds to mock the life-saving efforts:
“Not on my watch!” Attorney General Ken Paxton tweeted in response to the president’s comments on Tuesday that “we need to go community-by-community, neighborhood-by-neighborhood, and oft times door-to-door, literally knocking on doors.”
U.S. Rep. Chip Roy, a San Antonio Republican, on Wednesday directed a tweet at Biden with a play on the “Come and Take It” flag that shows an image of a syringe with the words “Come Inject It.” In a separate tweet, the congressman said he thought a door-to-door push would be unconstitutional, as such an approach was “only really contemplated in Constitution for the census.”
“Don’t knock on my door to ask about vaccines…or anything else,” U.S. Rep. Pat Fallon, a Sherman Republican, tweeted. He said there are “BIG red flags anytime the federal government is ‘going door to door.’”
Bless their hearts … obstructionists at a time when the administration is working to avoid continued global and national health crises. That’s certainly not the kindness of reaching out and helping a neighbor that many learned while growing up. But I digress….
After exceeding all previous ambitious goals, Biden’s Fourth of July objective of having 70 percent of the population fully vaccinated or receiving at least one shot fell short. As of this week, 67 percent of adults in the nation have been inoculated. To hopefully add to those numbers, taking information to the people is the next step.
The summer campaign has five components aimed at providing information and access in areas that have been hit hardest by the pandemic. Those plans include door-to-door outreach, offering vaccines at more primary care doctors’ offices, stepping up availability for adolescents before returning to school, setting up vaccination clinics at workplaces, and dispatching mobile clinics to events, festivals, and places of worship.
In other words, save lives while protecting the remainder of the population both here and around the world.
Meanwhile, health officials expressed concern as the delta variant became more prominent across the nation:
Federal health officials and experts have cited increased urgency for driving up vaccination rates as the delta variant of COVID-19 spreads quickly across the U.S. The variant is more transmissible than other strains of the coronavirus, although vaccines still appear to be highly effective in preventing it from causing severe symptoms.
One of the greatest concerns at the moment is that vaccination levels could continue to diverge along regional and political lines, leaving southern, rural, and Republican-leaning areas more vulnerable to a new surge of infections. Disparities in virus transmission are already emerging between communities with high vaccination rates and those with fewer vaccinated residents.
As of last week, about 1,000 counties in the U.S. still had vaccination rates below 30%, mostly in the South and Midwest. According to CNN, eight of the 10 states that saw infections rise in the last week have Republican governors.
Delta variant infections grow to more than half of new cases
The delta variant now makes up more than half the new cases of Covid across the nation:
Delta accounts for 51.7% of new infections in the U.S., according to the CDC. The B.1.1.7, or Alpha variant, which has dominated for months, now accounts for 28.7% of cases, the CDC said.
“If ever there was a reason to get vaccinated, this is it,” Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN on Tuesday.
Why do I care about those who hesitate becoming vaccinated? What they do affects us all. Their continued refusal to be protected and help stop the spread of this virus could put the entire U.S. at risk, as noted by The Lancet medical journal:
The five clusters are largely in parts of eight states, starting in the east in Georgia and stretching west to Texas and north to southern Missouri. The clusters also include parts of Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Tennessee, and are made up of mostly smaller counties but also cities such as Montgomery, Alabama; Shreveport, Louisiana; and Amarillo, Texas.
Most of these states are currently seeing increases in Covid-19 cases.
“Parts of the country are just as vulnerable if not more vulnerable than they were in December, 2020,” said Shweta Bansal, an associate professor of biology at Georgetown University. Bansal heads up the US COVID-19 Vaccination Tracking project, which has been gathering data on the US vaccine rollout since it began in December.
Those vulnerable clusters put all of the United States — and to some extent, the world — at risk for going back to 2020, since high-transmission areas can become breeding grounds for Covid-19 variants that could go on to evade Covid-19 vaccines.
“These clusters of unvaccinated people are what is standing in the way of us putting this virus down permanently,” said Dr. Jonathan Reiner, a CNN medical analyst and professor of medicine and surgery at George Washington University.
Many areas, including Maryland, are reporting upward of 100 percent of their Covid deaths are now from the unvaccinated.
Meanwhile, the delta variant is quickly spreading:
“I am a little surprised how quickly delta has become widespread,” said Ashish Jha, dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health. “We’re one week into July and it is everywhere. It suggests that it is far, far more contagious than the Alpha variant. It makes me nervous … how contagious it is and how quickly it has spread.”
We are in the midst of the single most devastating health disaster in our lifetimes that has killed over half a million Americans. The fact that not vaccinating or wearing a mask signifies you are most likely a Republicans is still stunning to me as well. Since when did Republicans become anti-science? Like others, I eagerly lined up for the jab in the arm as soon as it was available to me.
The latest is not encouraging especially for those who are not vaccinated:
After months of data collection, scientists agree: The delta variant is the most contagious version of the coronavirus worldwide. It spreads about 225% faster than the original version of the virus, and it’s currently dominating the outbreak in the United States.
A new study, published online Wednesday, sheds light on why. It finds that the variant grows more rapidly inside people’s respiratory tracts and to much higher levels, researchers at the Guangdong Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported.
On average, people infected with the delta variant had about 1,000 times more copies of the virus in their respiratory tracts than those infected with the original strain of the coronavirus, the study reported.
Their findings suggest that people who have contracted the delta variant are likely spreading the virus earlier in the course of their infection.
And the scientists underscore the importance of quarantining immediately for 14 days after coming into contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19, as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends.
Or even better, getting fully vaccinated. Preliminary data shows that in some U.S. states, 99.5% of COVID-19 deaths in the past few months were among people who weren’t vaccinated, the CDC’s director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, said Thursday at the White House.
“We know that the delta variant … is currently surging in pockets of the country with low vaccination rates,” Walensky said. “We also know that our authorized vaccines prevent severe disease, hospitalization and death from the delta variant.”
Don’t laugh but after reading of the aggressiveness of the delta variant, I’m going back to wearing masks while shopping. I’ve made it this far without becoming sick … no need breaking that record at this point in the coronavirus journey.
Be safe on your own journey….