Q&A Of The Day – The Impact Of Vaccines On COVID-19 Outcomes
Each day I feature a listener question sent by one of these methods.
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Today’s entry: It’s been awhile since anyone gave us the CURRENT death rate for covid. Can you hook us up with that, because I’m gonna bet with these vaccines it’s a lot lower than it used to be (Dare I say closer to the flu)?
Bottom Line: Your bet’s a good one though we’ve got a long way to go before COVID-19's rate resembles that of the traditional flu. The COVID-19 death rate has been consistently falling as vaccinations have risen. What’s known as the “closed-case death rate”, is the metric used to determine general morbidity. The way it works is like this. Once someone tests positive for COVID-19 they become an open case. Their case remains open until they test negative or are determined to have died due to COVID-19 and thus become a “closed-case”. To specifically address your question regarding the impact of vaccinations on the overall COVID-19 death rate...
The vaccine rollout began December 14th in the United States. On December 14th the closed case death rate was 2.99%, meaning three out of every 100 people testing positive for COVID-19 had died from it. Outcomes have consistently improved since then. In fact, there’s not been a single day since the onset of the vaccine rollout in which the death rate has risen. Most recently, through August 9th, the death rate was at a pandemic low of 2.09%. The improvement in outcomes has been 30% since the vaccination rollout. The prominent reason for the improvement in outcomes is who is contracting the virus. Vaccination rates rise along with age.
In Florida, the vaccination rate ranges from 14% for those under 18 to 98.8% for those over 65. While breakthrough cases are a thing, they’ve still been the exception rather than the rule. As a result, we’ve seen the average age of those testing positive for COVID-19 trending younger and most commonly with unvaccinated people who’re generally less susceptible to the worst effects of the virus. Most recently, 96% of COVID-19 hospitalizations in Florida have been with the unvaccinated with about half that are under the age of 55. Now, relative to the traditional flu...there’s an awful long way to go.
The death rate for the flu has varied overtime but has been exceedingly low for decades. Most recently, based on CDC data, 38 million Americans contracted the traditional flu during the 2019 season with 22,000 who died from it. That’s just 1 death per 1,727 people who contracted the flu, whereas we’re still pacing around two out of every 100 with COVID. More optimistically, and to the root of your question/point, there’s been consistent improvement with COVID-19 outcomes since the rollout of vaccinations. Hopefully this trend continues and relegates COVID-19 and its variants to little more than seasonal flu status.