All seems to be going well in the U.S. fight against COVID-19, with cases rapidly decreasing day by day. There’s more hope now than ever before about the pandemic nearing its end and achieving endemicity by the end of this year.
But despite plummeting cases and hospitalizations, people aren’t talking about the hard part — COVID-19 deaths. In fact, the virus is taking the lives of more people than ever before, with the U.S. reporting over 2,000 deaths every day in the past month. Data shows that the only other time death rates were this high dates back from the time vaccines were still unavailable.
Experts have analyzed this data to reveal the demographics and characteristics of people dying of COVID-19.
Who is Still at Risk of COVID-19 Death?
Early in the pandemic, common victims of COVID-19 deaths were the elderly and people with comorbidities that escalate after infection. But the landscape has changed much since then, with current statistics showing a different group of people most at risk.
Now, COVID-19 infection is more severe and can result in fatality among unvaccinated, younger individuals. According to the medical director of the infectious diseases program at Memphis Baptist Memorial Health Care, Dr. Stephen Threlkeld, most of his patients who become critically ill and end up in the ICU are unvaccinated, with a majority ending in fatalities.
In December of 2021, the CDC revealed that unvaccinated adults are 14 times more at risk of death than fully vaccinated individuals. Compared to those who received their booster shots, unvaccinated people were 51 times more at risk of dying from COVID-19.
Unvaccinated More At Risk of Fatality
The share of each age group in COVID-19 death numbers has dramatically changed since the start of the pandemic. In 2020, seniors or adults over 65 years of age were the common victims, accounting for 81% of deaths at that time. In 2021, however, the percentage of seniors dying from the virus reduced to 69% as more and more members of this age group receive their COVID-19 shots.
Vaccination rates among the elderly are among the highest, with 98.5% of U.S. adults over 65 years of age receiving at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine. On the contrary, less than two-thirds of adults below 40 have been fully vaccinated.
This direct relationship between the unvaccinated and the increased risk of death goes to show that vaccines work, offering more protection against severe and fatal illnesses. Health workers have revealed that unvaccinated individuals are more likely to become hospitalized for COVID-19 complications compared to vaccinated and boosted individuals who experience mild symptoms and can recover at home.
Getting vaccinated and boosted against COVID-19 is still the best means of protection from death and severe illness. And filling that vaccine gap is the key to achieving herd immunity.