Jan 25, 2022 - Health

Another wave of death

Daily COVID-19 deaths in the U.S.
Data: Our World in Data; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

Omicron infections are trending down nationally, but the number of deaths is as high now as it was during the summer's Delta wave.

Why it matters: Preventing death is the ultimate goal, and thousands of Americans continue to die from this coronavirus every day even though vaccines have been available to the public for roughly a year.

By the numbers: More than 2,000 people are dying from COVID every day right now, and that number has been rising for the past week, according to the latest seven-day rolling averages.

  • Roughly three out of four deaths are people who are 65 or older, according to the CDC.
  • Unvaccinated people are 100 times more likely to die from COVID than people who have gotten three doses of an mRNA vaccine.

What they're saying: Deaths are a lagging indicator of the virus' spread, so even though mortality rates are relatively low when compared with the Delta variant, the massive number of COVID cases means a large number of people will still die.

  • "There's just so many people infected — that mortality is still coming," said Cameron Wolfe, an infectious disease physician at Duke University. "How high, sadly, remains to be seen."

A silver lining: There is hope deaths will fall soon since cases are declining and more people are getting immunized.

  • "Increased vaccination and infection are strengthening our defenses against COVID," former CDC director Tom Frieden tweeted. "I'm more optimistic about our ability to tame the pandemic than at any point since its emergence."
  • But the usual caveats still apply: The current state is not anything close to "endemic," and new variants always pose a threat.
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