Covid-19 is still the third leading cause of death in America, killing about 400 people a day, largely the unvaccinated and those 65 and older. The deaths are largely preventable since most are among unvaccinated people, epidemiologist Katelyn Jetelina writes in her newsletter, Your Local Epidemiologist.
“We are still losing an unacceptable number of Americans,” Jetelina writes. “I know it doesn’t feel like it in the news, or the grocery store, or even emergency departments, but it is happening. . . . We cannot accept this death toll in our society. We can do better.”
She adds that from Sept. 6 through Sept. 12, the U.S. lost 2,299 people to Covid-19, and that during August 2022 alone, 15,284 Americans died from it.
In Kentucky, the state attributed 65 deaths to Covid-19 Sept. 6-12, and in August, more than 300.
Jetelina says these numbers matter because overall death rates are not back to pre-pandemic levels, with excess deaths still 10% higher than expected, and this is changing our life expectancy. In 2020, Kentucky’s life expectancy declined a full two years, from 75.5 to 73.5, according to
a national report.
Jetelina said it is “abundantly clear” that the majority of Covid-19 deaths are among the unvaccinated, and notes that 20% of Americans are still without even one dose. That rate is even higher in Kentucky. State data shows
that one-third, or 33%, of the state’s total population is unvaccinated for Covid-19.
Stressing the need to be fully vaccinated and boosted, Jetelina writes, “The more vaccine doses one has, the more that person is protected from death.”
Citing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, she writes, “Vaccinated people with one booster had three times the risk of dying compared to people vaccinated with two boosters. Unvaccinated people had 14 times the risk of dying compared to those with two boosters.”
Another strong predictor of Covid-19 death is age. “Specifically, unvaccinated 65-plus-year-olds have by far, the highest rates of death,” she writes.
And while this age group is among the most vaccinated, Jatelina writes that 60% of them who are fully vaccinated have not had a booster shot. This is also true in Kentucky, state data shows that only 61% of the 65-74 population having received any Covid-19 boosters and only 62% of those 75 and older had.