Covid linked to 33-fold increase in risk of potentially fatal blood clot

Infection with virus also associated with fivefold increase in risk of deep vein thrombosis, data suggests

Authors: Linda Geddes The Guardian

Catching Covid is associated with a fivefold increase in the risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and a 33-fold increase in risk of a potentially fatal blood clot on the lung in the 30 days after becoming infected, data suggests.

The findings, published in the British Medical Journal on Thursday, could help explain a doubling in the incidence of, and deaths from, blood clots in England since the start of the pandemic compared with the same periods in 2018 and 2019.

They also help to put the very small increased risk of blood clots associated with Covid-19 vaccination into context. “The degree of complications associated with Covid-19 is much stronger and lasts for much longer than what we might be getting after vaccination,” said Dr Frederick Ho, a lecturer in public health at the University of Glasgow, who was not involved in the research.

“Even those people with mild symptoms who do not need to be hospitalised might have a small increase in the risk of [blood clots].”

Although previous research had suggested that catching Covid was associated with an increased risk of blood clots, it was unclear for how long this risk remained, and whether mild infections also increased people’s risk.

To address these uncertainties, Anne-Marie Fors Connolly at Umeå University in Sweden and her colleagues measured the risk of DVT, pulmonary embolism – a blood clot on the lung – and various types of bleeding, such as gastrointestinal bleeding or a burst blood vessel in the brain, in more than 1 million people with confirmed Covid infections and more than 4 million uninfected individuals.

Overall, they identified a 33-fold increase in the risk of pulmonary embolism, a fivefold increase in the risk of DVT and an almost twofold increase in the risk of bleeding in the 30 days after infection. People remained at increased risk of pulmonary embolism for six months after becoming infected, and for two and three months for bleeding and DVT.

Although the risks were highest in patients with more severe illness, even those with mild Covid had a threefold increased risk of DVT and a sevenfold increased risk of pulmonary embolism. No increased risk of bleeding was found in those who experienced mild infections.

“Pulmonary embolism can be fatal, so it is important to be aware [of this risk],” said Connolly. “If you suddenly find yourself short of breath, and it doesn’t pass, [and] you’ve been infected with the coronavirus, then it might be an idea to seek help, because we find this increased risk for up to six months.”

Ho said the results remained relevant even in the Omicron era, since current vaccines were highly effective against severe Covid but breakthrough infections were common, even after a third dose of a vaccine.

“Despite the potential for new variants of concern, most governments are removing restrictions and shifting their focus to determining how best to live with Covid. This study reminds us of the need to remain vigilant to the complications associated with even mild Sars-CoV-2 infection, including [blood clots].”

… we have a small favour to ask. Tens of millions have placed their trust in the Guardian’s fearless journalism since we started publishing 200 years ago, turning to us in moments of crisis, uncertainty, solidarity and hope. More than 1.5 million supporters, from 180 countries, now power us financially – keeping us open to all, and fiercely independent.

Unlike many others, the Guardian has no shareholders and no billionaire owner. Just the determination and passion to deliver high-impact global reporting, always free from commercial or political influence. Reporting like this is vital for democracy, for fairness and to demand better from the powerful.

And we provide all this for free, for everyone to read. We do this because we believe in information equality. Greater numbers of people can keep track of the events shaping our world, understand their impact on people and communities, and become inspired to take meaningful action. Millions can benefit from open access to quality, truthful new regardless of their ability to pay for it.

‘Never Seen’ Before: Embalmers Finding Long, Rubbery Clots Inside Corpses Since Implementation of Covid Vaccines

By Cristina Laila September 4, 2022

Embalmers are finding long, rubbery clots inside of corpses since the implementation of Covid vaccines.

According to one Alabama embalmer who has been treating corpses for over 20 year, the strange fibrous clots emerged in May of 2021, shortly after the Covid vaccines first became available to the public.

“It wasn’t until May or June of last year that I started to say, ‘something is really different about the blood’ and then later in September, I took my first picture, since I couldn’t come out with just one piece of evidence because what if it’s just a fluke?” Alabama embalmer Richard Hirschmann told 1819 News. “Now, I have been gathering evidence and I have pictures of over 100 cases. And it’s not stopping. It’s not slowing down.”

Embalmers are finding long, rubbery clots inside of corpses since the implementation of Covid vaccines.

According to one Alabama embalmer who has been treating corpses for over 20 year, the strange fibrous clots emerged in May of 2021, shortly after the Covid vaccines first became available to the public.

“It wasn’t until May or June of last year that I started to say, ‘something is really different about the blood’ and then later in September, I took my first picture, since I couldn’t come out with just one piece of evidence because what if it’s just a fluke?” Alabama embalmer Richard Hirschmann told 1819 News. “Now, I have been gathering evidence and I have pictures of over 100 cases. And it’s not stopping. It’s not slowing down.”

The Epoch Times spoke to Richard Hirschmann and other embalmers who have all documented the same rubbery clots in corpses starting in 2021.

“In 20 years of embalming, I had never seen these white fibrous structures in the blood, nor have others in my field. In the past year, I have seen these strange clots in many different individuals, and it doesn’t seem to matter what they die of, they often have similar substances in their blood. This makes me very concerned because if something is wrong in the blood, it begs the question: is something causing people to die prematurely?” Hirschman told the Epoch Times.

Hirschmann said he has noticed that the blood in people’s bodies has changed in the last two years.

Mr. Hirschmann said he cannot confirm that the blood clots are caused by the Covid vaccines, but it is his hope that the clots are investigated.

Have all documented the same rubbery clots in corpses starting in 2021.

Several embalmers across the country have been observing many large, and sometimes very long, “fibrous” and rubbery clots inside the corpses they treat, and are speaking out about their findings.

Numerous embalmers from different states confirmed to The Epoch Times that they have been seeing these strange clots, starting from either 2020 or 2021.

It’s not yet known if the cause of the new clot phenomenon is COVID-19, vaccines, both, or something different.

The Epoch Times received videos and photos of the anomalous clots, but could not upload them due to the level of gore.

Mike Adams, who runs an ISO-17025 accredited lab in Texas, analyzed clots in August and found them to be lacking iron, potassium, magnesium, and zinc.

Adams’s lab uses inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS), triple quadrupole mass spectrometer, and liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry, usually testing food for metals, pesticides, and glyphosate.

“We have tested one of the clots from embalmer Richard Hirschman, via ICP-MS. Also tested side by side, live human blood from an unvaccinated person,” Adams told The Epoch Times.

He found that the clots are lacking key elements present in healthy human blood, such as iron, potassium, and magnesium, suggesting that they are formed from something other than blood.

Adams is joining analytic forces with more doctors and plan to invest out of their own pocket in equipment in order to further determine their composition and probable causation.

The string-like structures differ in size, but the longest can be as long as a human leg and the thickest can be as thick as a pinky finger.

The unexplained rise in excess deaths around the world

This phenomenon requires an urgent inquiry and research into the actual causes

Authors: Murray Hunter Jul 6, 2022

Since the beginning of 2022, there has been a significant rise in excess deaths. Covid-19 has made up only a small percentage of these excess deaths. Excess deaths is a measurement of the number of deaths from all causes above what we would expect, based upon a five year rolling average. The mainstream media is not carrying this story, even though this is a major concern to public health.

As an example, according to Our World in Data excess mortality for the week ending June 19 in New Zealand was 205 above the average for the same time between 2015-2019, before the pandemic. This is not just exclusive to New Zealand, where the United Kingdom was 15% above the average, in Germany 12%. In early weeks the excess averages were even higher in many countries.

However, if one looks at UK statistics to the week June 24, Covid deaths were 309, only 2.8% of 12,278 deaths for the week. Out of that figure 1,308 were excess non-Covid related deaths. UK government statistical data also tells us that 31.5% of excess deaths occurred at home, 12.1% in hospitals, 10.3% in care homes, and 10.1% in other settings.

This rise in excess deaths is not exclusive to the countries mentioned above.

There needs to be an urgent investigation into the rise in excess deaths around the world. At this point of time, it is unknown what the precise reasons for these deaths really are.

Some of the possible reasons could be;

·        Stress from the lockdowns and restrictions (often the health effects are delayed),

·        Suicides,

·        Lack of access to healthcare during the pandemic, where people weren’t being diagnosed for diseases,

·        Delays in the treatment of non-Covid diseases,

·        Stress from the current food and inflation crisis,

·        Long term effects from Covid that haven’t been picked up by research, for example increase in the risk of heart attacks and strokes,

·        Vaccinations,

·        Increasing autoimmune diseases, and/or

·        New medicines utilized for the treatment of Covid.

During the pandemic we saw headlines and graphic pictures portraying a single Covid related death. However, now statistics are showing up an unusual bump up in the number of excess deaths, this is hardly reported.

This lesson to public health authorities here is that there are other risks to public health than Covid-19.

Rising excess death rates around the world is a matter of concern, particularly in this endemic period. Public health authorities must urgently sanction studies into this issue. If these deaths have occurred from latent effects of lockdowns and restrictions, this must be known for future public policy.

The statistics indicate that this has gone much further than anecdotal reports of people dying suddenly.

Israel sees 70% spike in number of seriously ill COVID patients within a week

‘It’s an unpredictable and unstable situation,’ says immune system expert Prof. Cyrille Cohen, urging lawmakers to ‘actively encourage herd immunity among the vulnerable’

Authors:  Times of Israel June 2022

The number of coronavirus patients in serious condition in Israel reached 140 on Friday, marking a near 70% rise since last week, with health experts warning that the current situation was “unstable.”

While Israel has seen rising infection numbers for a few weeks, a rise in seriously ill patients marks a real concern as the country deals with the spread of the new variant BA.5, with experts warning that hospitals may need to reopen COVID wards. The number was up from 85 seriously ill patients on Friday last week.

Some 7,313 Israelis tested positive for the virus on Friday, the Health Ministry said. The reproduction number (R) stood at 1.31 as of Friday. The figure measures how many people each coronavirus carrier infects on average, with any number above 1 meaning the spread of COVID-19 is increasing. It first began to rise above 1 in mid-May, having stayed below that threshold for nearly two months.

The death toll stood at 10,882, including six fatalities over the past week.

“The data definitely indicates that the disease is active in the community,” immune system expert Prof. Cyrille Cohen of Bar Ilan University told the Ynet news site.

“The real indication is the number of patients in serious condition because we know much of the morbidity is not detected as people don’t go and get tested, and that should also be taken into account,” he said.

“The thing that determines the policy is not necessarily the number of confirmed patients but the condition of seriously ill patients. We need to understand whether they are experiencing the disease in a more severe way — and whether we will need to get ready to reopen COVID wards this summer,” he added.

Despite the warning, Cohen said it’s too early to know the severity of the variant that mutated from Omicron, known as BA.5, and whether or not it will develop into a new wave.

“We don’t know exactly what this wave will look like and whether we can call it a wave at all,” he said. “We are following the events in Portugal because variant BA.5 is the dominant one there and because its population is similar to Israel in size with many people vaccinated, even more so than in Israel.”

Cohen noted that morbidity and mortality rates rose in Portugal at the same time the BA5 variant started spreading.

“We need to realize that’s going to happen here as well,” he said, urging lawmakers to take action. “It’s an unpredictable and unstable situation regarding COVID. It will take months and even years before there is a significant decrease and we reach a more predictable scenario. But one must also be careful with making estimations,” he added.

Cohen said the effort should be concentrated on “actively encouraging herd immunity among the vulnerable and older population” by “calling people who haven’t received the vaccine and encouraging them to get it.”

He also advised wearing masks in crowded places like on buses and at shopping centers.

On Wednesday, coronavirus czar Prof. Salman Zarka said the new variant BA.5 is quickly gaining traction and is more resistant to vaccines than previous strains.

“The BA.5 strain currently accounts for about 50 percent of patients,” he said. “The strain caused relatively mild illness among young people, but we can see a rise in hospitalizations.”

He said BA.5 was replacing Omicron as the dominant variant, and that it will continue to gain ground.

Israel scrapped its indoor mask requirement in April as infection numbers dropped off sharply. Outdoor masks have not been required since April of last year.

Salman Zarka also said Israelis may soon be able to be officially recognized as COVID-19 patients based solely on a home test, under certain conditions, while at the same time the Health Ministry was working to expand test facilities.


Authors: Casey B. Mulligan, Robert D. Arnott, Working Paper 30104 NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138 June 2022

From April 2020 through at least the end of 2021, Americans died from non-Covid causes at an average annual rate 97,000 in excess of previous trends. Hypertension and heart disease deaths combined were elevated 32,000. Diabetes or obesity, drug-induced causes, and alcohol-induced causes were each elevated 12,000 to 15,000 above previous (upward) trends. Drug deaths especially followed an alarming trend, only to significantly exceed it during the pandemic to reach 108,000 for calendar year 2021. Homicide and motor-vehicle fatalities combined were elevated almost 10,000. Various other causes combined to add 18,000. While Covid deaths overwhelmingly afflict senior citizens, absolute numbers of non-Covid excess deaths are similar for each of the 18-44, 45-64, and over-65 age groups, with essentially no aggregate excess deaths of children. Mortality from all causes during the pandemic was elevated 26 percent for working age adults (18-64), as compared to 18 percent for the elderly. Other data on drug addictions, nonfatal shootings, weight gain, and cancer screenings point to a historic, yet largely unacknowledged, health emergency.

I. Introduction
The pandemic caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV2 (COVID-19, which we will call Covid, for simplicity) prompted extraordinary, although often untested, steps by individuals and institutions in the United States and around the world, in an effort to limit, or at a minimum slow the spread, of the disease. Although confirmed Covid cases and deaths have been widely tracked on a daily basis, little aggregate information has been provided on non-Covid excess deaths that may have been a direct consequence of these efforts. There was little curiosity about testing whether public or private Covid-policies were aggravating previous health problems. Using death-certificate and other data, this paper reports significant and historic health harms experienced in the U.S. during the pandemic, apart from those directly caused by Covid. A first indicator of abnormalities comes from the 46 percent of the adult population who had not yet reached age 45. While largely unharmed by Covid, their aggregate mortality rates increased 26 percent above previous trends. This is larger than the percentage jump in deaths for senior citizens, where the Covid toll was largely concentrated, but has received scant notice. Drugs, homicides, traffic fatalities, and alcohol-induced causes killed tens of thousands more young adults than they had in the past. Deaths from various circulatory diseases and diabetes were also elevated. Suicides did not increase, though alcohol-related deaths and overdoses might also be considered consequences of self-destructive behaviors. Deaths were not, on average, elevated among minors. We then look at ages 45-64 and the over-65 age group. Their non-Covid mortality was also elevated, but with almost all elevated causes associated with chronic conditions such as circulatory disease, diabetes, obesity, or liver disease rather than homicide or traffic accident. A final section of the paper looks at other health indicators such as substance abuse, non-fatal shootings, weight gain, and cancer screenings. All of this suggests that large and sustained changes in living habits designed to avoid a single virus had not only “economic” opportunity costs, but also cost a shockingly large number of young lives. At the monetary value of a statistical life used in government cost-benefit analysis, the non-Covid excess deaths amount to a loss of well over $1 trillion.

II. Data and methods used
Monthly fatalities are measured using the on-line CDC-Wonder tools, sponsored by the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), for tabulating every death certificate filed
with a U.S. state or District of Columbia (essentially every death in the country). The death
certificates are provided to CDC by the states on a rolling basis, with the timing and quality of
initial submissions varying across states. CDC also takes time to process and code them,
especially the 20 percent of certificates that CDC does not receive digitally. As a result, CDC
sponsors two distinct tools: “Multiple Cause of Death, 1999-2020” and “Provisional Mortality
Statistics, 2018 through Last Month.” The data accessed with the Provisional tool is still being
processed and coded, especially for “external causes of death” such as drug overdose, homicide or traffic accident, particularly for the most recent six months. 2 Given that we accessed the tools in late March and April 2022, the monthly series for external causes shown in this paper end in September 2021.3 Each death certificate “contains a single underlying cause of death, up to twenty additional multiple causes, and demographic data” such as age (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2022). The tools permit tabulation by any of the thousands of underlying causes, or by selected cause groups such as “Alcohol-induced causes”, “Drug-induced causes,” or “Homicide.” Beginning in 2020, the death certificates potentially include a code (U07.1) for
Covid among the causes of death. The counts of death certificates including U07.1 are well
known because they were extensively reported in the news as U.S. “Covid deaths.” Table 1 shows the nine cause groups we analyze. In selecting cause groups, our purpose was to capture the groups that have been most important in the past and/or have been the subject of debate regarding the pandemic. We also looked at cancer deaths but in this paper include them with the residual because, perhaps not surprisingly, cancer deaths were not yet noticeably above normal as of the end of 2021.4 Respiratory deaths are selected because of the possibilities that Covid crowds out other respiratory deaths or, alternatively, Covid deaths are coded as J00-J98 rather than U07.1. Alcohol-induced causes are “the subset of alcohol-related deaths that are certain to be caused by drinking alcohol” (Spillane, et al. 2020). Some of the alcohol-induced deaths reflect acute conditions such as poisoning but most were aggravation of chronic conditions, especially diseases of the liver. Alcohol-induced causes do not include fatal accidents and other deaths where alcohol might have combined with other causes.
Table 1. Cause-of-death groups in CDC Wonder Description ICD-10 Codes
Alcohol-induced causes E24.4, F10, G31.2, G62.1, G72.1, I42.6, K29.2, K70,
K85.2, K86.0, R78.0, X45, X65, Y15 Drug-induced causes Several designated by CDC
Diseases of the circulatory system I00-I99

Diabetes and obesity
E00-E88 “Endocrine, nutritional, and metabolic diseases”
Homicide U01-U02, X85–Y09, Y87.1
Motor Vehicle Traffic Several designated by CDC
Respiratory J00-J98
Covid-19 U07.1
All other causes

Age and cause-group excess deaths are estimated by subtracting “predicted” deaths and
unmeasured Covid deaths from CDC-reported deaths. Each month’s deaths are expressed at an
annual rate by dividing by number of days in the month and multiplying by 365.25. The natural
logs of predicted deaths are the fitted values from a monthly time series regression of the natural logs of actual deaths on (i) a quadratic in time interacted with age group and cause and (ii) month-of-year indicators for each cause. 5 The estimation period is January 1999 through
December 2019, for a total of 24 time series (eight non-Covid causes and three age groups).
Estimated trends were typically upward for drugs, alcohol, homicide, and diabetes/ obesity for each age group. In other words, “excess deaths” from these causes refers to excesses beyond the increases that would occur along the previous trend, which were already leading public health problems. Tacitly, this presumes that further increases in these health emergencies are “normal,” as long as the trend is not accelerating. See also Section III. With Covid deaths occurring at an average annual rate of more than 400,000 through the end of 2021, a small amount of mismeasurement could have a significant impact on non-Covid excess death estimates (Mulligan 2020), especially for circulatory, diabetes, and obesity deaths, as they are common comorbidities with Covid. If, say, five Covid deaths were unrecorded for every 100 that were recorded, the unrecorded would artificially elevate excess death rates by 20,000 per year, which is a similar order of magnitude of the difference between actual and trend circulatory or diabetes/obesity deaths. We implement two adjustments of those causes, intended to be conservative as to the estimated number of excess non-Covid deaths. The first adjustment is to count zero excess circulatory (I00-I99) and diabetes/obesity (E00-E88) deaths in March and April 2020 when Covid testing rates were low and before the federal government began issuing add-on payments to hospitals for their treatment of Covid patients.6 The second adjustment uses the fact that excess circulatory and diabetes/obesity deaths have month-to-month time series that is similar to the time series for official Covid deaths. Specifically, for each of the two cause groups interacted with the three age groups, we regress the gap between actual and trend on measured Covid deaths using the April 2020 through December 2021 time series. The age-by cause estimate of unmeasured Covid is the product of measured Covid deaths and the
corresponding regression coefficient.7 Also for the purpose of presenting conservative estimates, we do not estimate the number of official Covid deaths that were in fact due to other causes
In addition to CDC Wonder, we also use the CMS weekly database of nursing home
deaths that begins in June 2020 and distinguishes Covid deaths from other deaths. For supporting evidence, we also use the public use microdata files, but as of our writing they are
only available through calendar year 2020. Our STATA code and supporting materials are
hosted with this working paper at III. Excess deaths by age and cause Table 2 shows the results by age. Because the table entries are expressed at annual rates in thousands, the pandemic totals would be roughly double the table entries if the pandemic and its effects on mortality ultimately prove to last twenty-four months.8 We find the adult age groups to have roughly similar numbers of excess deaths from non-Covid causes (first column), which is remarkable given that normally deaths are much more rare in the young age group (baseline column). Even including our estimate of 2,000 unmeasured Covid deaths ages 18-44, excess non-Covid deaths exceed Covid deaths for that group. Overall, the excess deaths aged 18-44 amount to a 26 percent increase in the age group’s mortality. By comparison, the mortality rate for the elderly was elevated “only” 18 percent, primarily by Covid

Table 2. Excess deaths, by age of death
Average annual rate April 2020 – December 2021 Annual rate in 1000s All excess, % of baseline
Excess, Covid Baseline
Age Non-Covid Official Unmeasured Level
0-17 ~0 ~0 ~0 35 ~0
18-44 29 18 2 183 26% 45-64 33 96 9 545 25%
65+ 35 319 31 2167 18%
Nursing home NA 49 NA NA
Not nursing home NA 270 NA NA
Total 97 433 41 2930 20%
Notes: Covid deaths are excluded from the first column. We use an expansive definition of
unmeasured Covid for the purpose of conservatively assessing non-Covid causes. To give a sense of the age and morbidity of the elderly Covid deaths, we distinguish nursing homes from the rest of the elderly population. Although nursing homes were infamous early in the pandemic for high rates of Covid infection and death, the majority of Covid deaths occurred after the summer of 2020 and did so among elderly who were not nursing-home residents.9 The residence status of these elderly suggests, but does not prove, that many Covid deaths may have occurred among elderly who were not as old and/or thought to be in better health than the average nursing home resident. The age pattern of excess non-COVID deaths is revealing about the factors driving poor health during the pandemic, which might be categorized as supply versus demand. Health supply is one side of the coin; demand for health is the other. Covid might increase individuals’ demand for health if, for example, taking extra care of chronic conditions enhances a patient’s chances of surviving a Covid infection. On the other hand, the competing risks theory of health demand (Dow, Philipson and Sala-i-Martin 1999, Honoré and Lleras-Muney 2006) says that the introduction of a new mortality threat would reduce investments in health by reducing the expected lifetimes over which those investments would pay off. At the individual level, either of 9 Nursing home occupancy briefly fell a few percent in late 2020, perhaps due to concerns about Covid risk, but in 2021 return to historic levels. 7 these demand factors would show up primarily among the elderly, who have much greater risk from Covid. Supply factors, on the other hand, could affect even those who have little personal
isk from Covid because many of them operate at a market level. In particular, as institutions
close workplaces or change law enforcement practices, to name some examples, even the young may find that maintaining health becomes more expensive (or that unhealthy lifestyles are an easy escape from fear or boredom) even though Covid poses little direct threat to them.
Table 3 shows the results by cause. Each entry is an excess above the sum of trend and our estimate of unreported Covid deaths. Excess deaths from circulatory diseases lead at 32,000
annually. Diseases associated with high blood pressure (hypertension) are especially important
contributors to the circulatory total. Coronary heart disease (ICD codes I20-I25, especially heart attacks) was elevated a lesser percentage than circulatory diseases generally, although it was a major contributor to the additional deaths from circulatory diseases among ages 18-44. Deaths from coronary heart disease at home were elevated more than coronary heart disease deaths occurring away from home (these subcategories of circulatory disease are not shown in the table).

Table 3. Excess non-Covid deaths: top causesAverage annual rate April 2020 – December 2021, Ages 18+ Excess, % of baseline Annual rate in 1000s Elderly % Underlying causes Excess Baseline of excess
Circulatory diseases 32 892 4% 66%
Diabetes or obesity 15 153 10% 60%
Drug-induced causes 12 93 13% 0%
Alcohol-induced causes 12 41 28% 16%
Homicide 5 19 27% 2%
Traffic accident 4 37 11% -16%
All others 18 1660 1% 22%
Total 97 2895 3% 36%
Potentially unmeasured Covid excluded from above 41 74%
Notes: External cause averages are only through September 2021. The baseline includes prior trends and seasona ls (see also Table 4). The elderly % is negative if elderly deaths are below trend. Another 15,000 excess deaths were attributed to diabetes (especially Type II) and obesity. Drug poisoning (especially illicit fentanyl) and alcohol-induced causes each contribute another 12,000 annual excess deaths each, beyond the alarming previous trends. Homicide and traffic accidents contribute another 9,000 excess deaths annually. All other causes contribute a total of 18,000 excess deaths.10 Total excess deaths are 97,000 annually beyond previous trends. Although about three-fourths of Covid deaths were among the elderly, more than half of
excess non-Covid deaths are among non-elderly adults. Table 3’s final column how this
especially true for the external causes of drugs, alcohol, homicide, and traffic accident. In fact,
elderly deaths in traffic accidents were below prior trends during the pandemic, while they were above trend for non-elderly adults.

Due to interest in the direct and indirect effects of the pandemic on public health, we
prepared Tables 2 and 3 to show deaths relative to pre-pandemic trends. Table 4’s “Trend”
column shows how, for some causes, the previous trends themselves were alarming.11 Each year that passed was adding 18,000 to the annual number of deaths from diabetes, obesity, drugs, or alcohol. The previous trend for drugs alone is about 10,000. If that trend continues, roughly200,000 will die from drug overdoses in the year 2030 alone. If it is considered “normal” for this trend to persist, these 200,000 deaths would – shockingly – be considered unexceptional and on trend. Given these alarming pre-pandemic trends, we find it especially notable that non-Covid health outcomes were not more closely monitored to, among other things, determine whether public or private Covid policies were aggravating them.
Table 4. Non-Covid mortality changes decomposed into trend and excess
April 2020 – December 2021, Ages 18+ Annual rate in 1000s Underlying causes Trend Excess Sum
Circulatory diseases -9 32 23
Diabetes or obesity 7 15 22
Drug-induced causes 10 12 22
Alcohol-induced causes 2 12 13
Homicide 0 5 5
Traffic accident 0 4 4
All other non-Covid -7 18 11
Total 3 97 100

Figure 1 shows the results over time, aggregating the age groups and months into
quarters. Causes are aggregated as either external (drugs, alcohol, homicide, and traffic
accident), the other four causes we tracked individually, or all other non-Covid. Deaths from
external causes jump immediately in 2020-Q2 and remain near or above that level for as long as
we have data. From 2020-Q3 through the end of 2021, excess deaths from the four other causes
are at least 23,000 at an annual rate, except for 2021-Q1 when excess deaths are negative.12 The other series are noisy in part due to the challenge of getting an exact estimate for the strong seasonal for those types of deaths. Winters are hard on the elderly but uneven, with a very large difference between the death toll in bad flu seasons relative to mild flu seasons. It is unsurprising that, with lockdowns and social distancing, the winter months at the beginning of both 2021 and 2022 have been very mild flu seasons.

IV. Other Evidence of Health Status during the Pandemic It would be surprising if health harms were limited only to those who died by the end of Additional drug and alcohol use during the pandemic has been indicated in household surveys (Patrick, et al. 2022) and alcohol sales data (Pollard, Tucker and Green 2020). Tobacco companies reported additional cigarette sales as “staying home in the pandemic gave people more chances to smoke and more cash to spend” (Geller and Cavale 2020). The Gun Violence Archives (GVA) reports 31 percent more nonfatal gun injuries in 2020 than in 2019, which is similar to the 28 percent increase we find in homicides over the same time period. GVA also finds a 44 percent increase among children aged 0-11 and 33 percent increase among adolescents aged 12-17 (Gun Violence Archive 2021).
Lin, et al (2021) find a 1.5 pound average weight gain per month spent in shelter-inplace.13 Bhutani, Dellen and Cooper (2021) report similar results, concluding that “Covid-19
lockdown periods disrupted weight management among many Americans and that associated
health effects are likely to persist.” Chang et al (2021) conducted an international meta-analysis of weight gain among children and adolescents, finding that the “Covid-19 pandemic worsened
the burden of childhood obesity.” Massachusetts General Brigham hospital reported a 74 percent reduction in cancer screens in March, April, and May 2020 as compared to the prior year. Because cancer diagnoses fell 33 percent, this suggests that cancer would be diagnosed later, at more advanced stages, eventually resulting in additional morbidity and mortality. When cancer screening resumed in summer 2020 the University of Cincinnati Cancer Center reported almost quadruple the lung cancer diagnoses per screen.14

V. Conclusions
Beginning with Grossman (1972), the human capital approach to health economics
emphasizes the role of patient and family efforts in maintaining health. Health is very much a
“home production” activity. It should be no surprise that a widespread disruption to patient
circumstances would degrade health and even elevate mortality from chronic conditions
(Mulligan 2020). Nevertheless, early in the pandemic some experts mocked this perspective as a “pet theory about the fatal dangers of quarantine” (Case and Deaton 2020). Little monitoring of longstanding health behaviors occurred.15 With the benefit of two years of death certificates, this paper documents mortality patterns in the U.S. From April 2020 through the end of 2021, Americans died from non-Covid causes at an average annual rate 97,000 in excess of previous trends for a cumulative total of 52 per 100,000 population through the end of 2021. Presumably excess mortality continues into calendar year 2022. As a magnitude for comparison, we note that, converted to dollars at a $10,000,000 average valueof a statistical life, the non-Covid excess deaths through the end of 2021 cost $1.7 trillion. Hypertension and heart disease deaths combined were elevated 32,000. Some of these appear to be heart attacks suffered at home without visiting a hospital. Diabetes or obesity, drug poisoning, and alcohol-induced causes were each elevated 12,000 to 15,000 above previous (upward) trends. Homicide and motor-vehicle fatalities combined were elevated almost 10,000. Absolute numbers of non-Covid excess deaths are about evenly split by age between 18-44, 45-64, and over-65, with essentially no aggregate excess deaths of children. Mortality from all causes during the pandemic was elevated 26% for young adults ages 18 to 44, as compared to
18% for the elderly. Other data on drug addictions, non-fatal shootings, weight gain, and cancer screenings point to a historic, yet largely unacknowledged, health emergency.

The age pattern of excess non-COVID deaths reveals something about the types of
factors driving poor health during the pandemic. With the young experiencing so many excess
deaths, even though their average personal risk from Covid is minimal, many of the pandemic’s
effects on health seem to be working through market channels. Institutional efforts to limit
infections, such as closing workplaces or changing law enforcement practices, may have made it more expensive to maintain health or made unhealthy lifestyles less expensive. Some have
referred to the resulting deaths as deaths of despair or deaths of boredom. Due to interest in the direct and indirect effects of the pandemic on public health, we express many of our findings in terms of deaths relative to pre-pandemic trends. For two or three cause groups, the previous trends themselves were already alarming, only to be surpassed during the pandemic. Given the pre-pandemic health situation, we find it especially notable that non Covid health outcomes were not more closely monitored to, among other things, determine whether public or private Covid policies were aggravating them. Critics will likely suggest that the public policy choices did not lead to the large number of non-Covid excess deaths, that these excess deaths were a consequence of personal choices, driven by fear or boredom. We do not disagree that this may be a key driver of excess non-Covid deaths. But, we would point out that this is no excuse for ignoring this soaring death toll, or pushing an examination of these deaths to
the back burner. Summing our estimates across causes and age groups, we estimate 171,000 excess nonC ovid deaths through the end of 2021 plus 72,000 unmeasured Covid deaths. The Economist has assembled national-level mortality data from around the world and obtains a similar U.S. estimate, which is 199,000 (including any unmeasured Covid) or about 60 persons per 100,000 population (Global Change Data Lab 2022). For the European Union as a whole, the estimate is near-identical at 64 non-Covid excess deaths per 100K. In contrast, the estimate for Sweden is 33, meaning that non-Covid causes of death were somewhat low during the pandemic.16 We suspect that some of the international differences are due to the standard used to designate a death as Covid, but perhaps also Sweden’s result is related to minimizing the disruption of its citizen’s normal lifestyles

American Hospital Association. “Coronavirus Update: CMS Releases Guidance Implementing
CARES Act Provisions.” April 16, 2020.
Arnott, Robert, Vitali Kalesnik, and Lillian Wu. “Collateral Damage from Covid.” Reason
Foundation, October 2021.
Bhutani, Surabhi, Michelle R. van Dellen, and Jamie A. Cooper. “Longitudinal weight gain and
related risk behaviors during the COVID-19 pandemic in adults in the US.” Nutrients 13
(2021): 671.
Case, Anne, and Angus Deaton. “Trump’s Pet Theory about the Fatal Dangers of Quaratine is
Very Wrong.” Washington Post, June 1, 2020.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Provisional Mortality Statistics.”
January 6, 2022.
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. New Waivers for Inpatient Prospective Payment
System (IPPS) Hospitals, Long-Term Care Hospitals (LTCHs), and Inpatient
Rehabilitation Facilities (IRFs) due to Provisions of the CARES Act. April 15, 2020.
Chang, Tu-Hsuan, et al. “Weight gain associated with COVID-19 lockdown in children and
adolescents: A systematic review and meta-analysis.” Nutrients 13 (2021): 3668.
Council of Economic Advisers. Economic Report of the President. Executive Office of the
President, April 2022.
Dow, William H., Tomas J. Philipson, and Xavier Sala-i-Martin. “Longevity complementarities
under competing risks.” American Economic Review 89 (1999): 1358–1371.
Geller, Martinne, and Siddharth Cavale. “Big Tobacco gets a pandemic pick-me-up.” Reuters,
November 19, 2020.
Global Change Data Lab. “Excess mortality during the Coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19).” May 10, 2022.
Grossman, Michael. “On the Concept of Health Capital and the Demand for Health.” Journal of
Political Economy 80, no. 2 (1972): 223-55.
Gun Violence Archive. Gun Violence Archive. 2021.
Honoré, Bo E., and Adriana Lleras-Muney. “Bounds in competing risks models and the war on
cancer.” Econometrica (Wiley Online Library) 74 (2006): 1675–1698.
Khubchandani, Jagdish, James H. Price, Sushil Sharma, Michael J. Wiblishauser, and Fern J.
Webb. “COVID-19 pandemic and weight gain in American adults: A nationwide
16 population-based study.” Diabetes & Metabolic Syndrome: Clinical Research & Reviews,
2022: 102392.
Lin, Anthony L., Eric Vittinghoff, Jeffrey E. Olgin, Mark J. Pletcher, and Gregory M. Marcus.
“Body weight changes during pandemic-related shelter-in-place in a longitudinal cohort
study.” JAMA network open 4 (2021): e212536–e212536.
Mulligan, Casey B. “Deaths of Despair and the Incidence of Excess Mortality in 2020.” NBER
working paper, no. 28303 (December 2020).
Mulligan, Casey B. “Lethal Unemployment Bonuses? Substitution and Income Effects on
Substance Abuse, 2020-21.” NBER working paper, no. 29719 (February 2022).
National Cancer Institute. For Cancer Screening, COVID-19 Pandemic Creates Obstacles,
Opportunities. March 10, 2021.
National Center for Health Statistics. “Multiple Cause of Death Data Files.” 1999-2018.
Office of Management and Budget. “President’s Budget.” April 2022.
Patrick, Megan E., Michael J. Parks, Anne M. Fairlie, Noah T. Kreski, Katherine M. Keyes, and
Richard Miech. “Using substances to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic: US National
Data at age 19 years.” Journal of Adolescent Health 70 (2022): 340–344.
Pollard, Michael S., Joan S. Tucker, and Harold D. Green. “Changes in adult alcohol use and
consequences during the COVID-19 pandemic in the US.” JAMA network open 3 (2020):
Ruhm, Christopher J. “Excess Deaths in the United States During the First Year of COVID-19.”
NBER working paper, no. 29503 (November 2021).
Spillane, Susan, et al. “Trends in alcohol-induced deaths in the United States, 2000-2016.” JAMA
network open 3 (2020): e1921451–e1921451.
Zinberg, Joel. “Death by Policy.” July 9, 2020.

COVID-19 was deadly to working-class Americans in 2020, researcher says

Authors: Sam Ogozalek June 3, 2022 Tampa Bay Times

Working-class Americans died of COVID-19 at five times the rate of those in higher socioeconomic positions during the first year of the pandemic, according to a study.

The staggering disparity was revealed in a study of roughly 69,000 U.S. coronavirus victims ages 25 to 64 who died in 2020. It was conducted by a group of researchers including University of South Florida epidemiologist Jason Salemi.

The study’s authors found that 68% of the deaths they studied were among people considered to be in a low socioeconomic position, defined as workers whose education stopped at high school. Only about 12% of deaths occurred among people in high socioeconomic positions, defined as those with at least a bachelor’s degree.

The researchers said the majority of working-class adults in the U.S. were employed in blue collar, service or retail jobs and couldn’t work remotely in the first year of the virus, before vaccines became widely available in 2021.

“Our results support the hypothesis that hazardous conditions of work were a primary driver of joint socioeconomic, gender, and racial/ethnic disparities in COVID-19 mortality,” the researchers wrote.

Working-class employees faced “elevated infection risks,” according to a USF summary of the study, compared to higher-paid workers who were “more likely to have fewer exposure risks, options to work remotely, paid sick leave and better access to quality health care.”

The report comes as Florida and several parts of the nation grapple with high levels of COVID-19 transmission driven by contagious omicron subvariants. The Tampa Bay region is considered to be at “high” risk of infection, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which recommends wearing masks in indoor public spaces.

Though the research is based on deaths that occurred in 2020 — before vaccines reduced COVID-19 mortality across the board — Salemi said he believes working-class people are still at higher risk of sickness and death.

He said the study’s findings offer a warning about how the pathogen can deeply impact vulnerable communities.

Talk of “getting back to normal,” he said, means “very different things” to different people in the U.S.

“Some people are still going to be in the line of fire,” Salemi said.

The question facing the country, he said, is what can be done to help working-class employees stay safe?

His solutions: Improve ventilation in buildings to reduce indoor transmission; wear high-quality masks indoors to reduce infections; and institute paid sick leave so the infected can stay home instead of spreading the virus.

The study was published in April in the peer-reviewed International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. The research team collected provisional COVID-19 death data from the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics. Deaths were included if COVID-19 was listed as an underlying or contributing cause of death. The center uses educational levels to measure socioeconomic status.

The study found that the age-adjusted COVID-19 death rate for working-class adults was 72.2 deaths per 100,000. For those in high socioeconomic positions, the rate was 14.6 deaths per 100,000.

The researchers discovered other disparities:

  • The age-adjusted COVID-19 death rate of working-class Hispanic men was more than 27 times higher than the death rate for white women in higher socioeconomic jobs.
  • Working-class Black men had a death rate that was nearly 20 times higher than the death rate for white women who graduated from a four-year college.
  • The death rate for working-class Black women was about 13 times higher than the rate for white women with at least a bachelor’s degree.
  • Working-class white men had a death rate roughly four times higher than the rate for white men in high socioeconomic positions.

Can long Covid lead to death? A new analysis suggests it could

The CDC is beginning to look at death certificates that indicate more than 100 people who died had long Covid.

Authors: ERIN BANCO 06/03/2022 Politico

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is analyzing more than 100 deaths that could be attributed to long Covid by looking at death certificates from across the country over the last two years, according to two people familiar with the matter.

The National Center for Health Statistics, a division within the CDC, collects death certificates from states after they have been completed by a coroner, medical examiner or doctor. NCHS is now reviewing a batch of those files from 2020 and 2021.

The review at the CDC, the details of which POLITICO obtained, is the first of its kind and indicates that long Covid and the health complications associated with it could lead to death. NCHS is set to publish preliminary data from its analysis in the coming days.

It’s unclear whether the people who died had underlying health issues, whether long Covid was the cause of their deaths or whether it was a contributing factor.

The new data comes as state and federal health officials work to understand the significance and severity of long Covid, which may affect as many as 30 percent of people who contract the virus, according to studies published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Two years into the pandemic, relatively little is known about long Covid’s prevalence, how to diagnose it or the best practices for treatment.

“The overall risk factors for mortality with long COVID are going to be important and evolving,” said Mady Hornig, a physician-scientist at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health who is researching long Covid. The CDC is still collecting and revising data, but NCHS has so far identified 60 death certificates that list long Covid or similar terminology — for example, “post-Covid” — in 2021 and another 60 during the first five months of 2022.

A spokesperson for the CDC said the agency is “working on identifying any deaths attributed to … long Covid-19” and plans to publish the numbers “soon.”

There is no test for long Covid, and the CDC and the medical community have no official definition. But health care workers across the country are diagnosing patients who have previously contracted Covid-19 based on a wide-ranging set of symptoms that often include fatigue, shortness of breath and brain fog. Researchers and scientists have said that between 10 and 30 percent of people who have survived a Covid-19 infection will develop long Covid. A CDC study released May 27 said one in five adults in the U.S. may develop the condition.

Still, it’s difficult to determine exactly how many people in the country have long Covid. The condition is not easy to diagnose, especially without a universal definition. Long Covid can impact multiple organ systems and what may be a long Covid symptom for one patient may not be for another.

“The overall risk factors for mortality with long COVID are going to be important and evolving”

 Mady Hornig, a physician-scientist at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health

The muddied diagnosis process has made it harder for researchers to study long Covid. Dozens of hospitals and medical clinics are accepting patients with long Covid symptoms for treatment and trying to use that data to better understand the condition and why it manifests itself in some who have previously contracted the virus but not others. The National Institutes of Health is overseeing the largest national study of long Covid.

In October 2021, after CDC approval, hospitals and medical facilities in the U.S. began tracking patients exhibiting long Covid symptoms with a specific identification known as an ICD-10 code. That coding system, used for most reportable illnesses, has helped researchers narrow which group of people to study.

However, in almost all instances, long Covid sample populations are limited, constraining researchers’ ability to understand how the condition impacts different people.

“There is a significant underdetection of long Covid,” said Sairam Parthasarathy, chief of the pulmonary division at the University of Arizona’s medical school and one of the leads on its long Covid study. “It ties into health literacy … of someone being aware that they have a medical problem. If someone feels that they don’t have a medical problem, sometimes they may not seek care.”

Socioeconomic factors also come into play, Parthasarathy said, including whether someone has the resources and time to go to the doctor.

There is no set wording or terminology that hospitals use on death certificates — the CDC has yet to issue guidance. So, no official estimates exist for long Covid deaths.

Very few studies have examined the relationship between long Covid and mortality. But one November 2021 study of European cancer patients, published in The Lancet, showed a relationship between long Covid and morbidity of the sample population. The study found that about 15 percent of those who survived Covid-19 had long Covid symptoms and their survival outcomes were significantly worse. It also found that those individuals were more likely to discontinue systemic anti-cancer therapy permanently.

“It certainly is possible and probable that someone who was sick from Covid develop complications after Covid and die of long Covid,” said Jerry Krishnan, a pulmonary physician at the University of Illinois Chicago who is leading the institution’s long Covid clinical study. “I have not seen the data. But I have heard that people have developed heart or lung or brain complications after having had Covid. And eventually they have died.”

The CDC analysis is pulling death certificates that have words like “long Covid” or “post Covid,” which could indicate that someone has died as a result of the condition. NCHS conducted a similar review of death certificates when the Covid-19 pandemic began in 2020. The CDC eventually issued a notice for health care providers to use a specific code for deaths that could be attributed to Covid-19. It allowed federal and local researchers to study how and whether the virus caused severe disease in some groups more than others.

Although there’s no death certificate code for long Covid, Parthasarathy said it is possible to rely on what the medical community already knows about how severe disease from Covid-19 affects different populations to get a sense of long Covid’s effects on those same groups of people.

“We know that people of color were disproportionately affected by Covid disease as opposed to just mild SARS-CoV-2 infection. And we know that people who are hospitalized with Covid are more likely to have long Covid,” he said, adding that he recently sat in on a presentation with NCHS that indicated people of color had a higher prevalence of long Covid. “When they showed those numbers … it was like, ‘of course.’ We were able to connect the dots.


During COVID’s omicron wave in U.S., death rates soared for older people

Authors: BENJAMIN MUELLER and Eleanor LutzThe New York Times May 31, 2022 

Despite strong levels of vaccination among older people, COVID killed them at vastly higher rates during this winter’s omicron wave than it did last year, preying on long delays since their last shots and the variant’s ability to skirt immune defenses.

This winter’s wave of deaths in older people belied the omicron variant’s relative mildness. Almost as many Americans 65 and older died in four months of the omicron surge as they did in six months of the delta wave, even though the delta variant, for any one person, tended to cause more severe illness.

While overall per capita COVID death rates have fallen, older people still account for an overwhelming share of them.

“This is not simply a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” said Andrew Stokes, an assistant professor in global health at Boston University who studies age patterns of COVID deaths. “There’s still exceptionally high risk among older adults, even those with primary vaccine series.”

COVID deaths, though always concentrated in older people, have in 2022 skewed toward older people more than they did at any point since vaccines became widely available.

That swing in the pandemic has intensified pressure on the Biden administration to protect older Americans, with health officials in recent weeks encouraging everyone 50 and older to get a second booster and introducing new models of distributing antiviral pills.

In much of the country, though, the booster campaign remains listless and disorganized, older people and their doctors said. Patients, many of whom struggle to drive or get online, have to maneuver through an often labyrinthine health care system to receive potentially lifesaving antivirals.

Nationwide COVID deaths in recent weeks have been near the lowest levels of the pandemic, below an average of 400 a day. But the mortality gap between older and younger people has grown: Middle-aged Americans, who suffered a large share of pandemic deaths last summer and fall, are now benefiting from new stores of immune protection in the population as COVID deaths once again cluster around older people.

And the new wave of omicron subvariants may create additional threats: While hospitalizations in younger age groups have remained relatively low, admission rates among people 70 and older in the Northeast have climbed to one-third of the winter omicron wave’s towering peak.

“I think we are going to see the death rates rising,” said Dr. Sharon Inouye, a geriatrician and a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. “It is going to become more and more risky for older adults as their immunity wanes.”

Harold Thomas Jr., 70, of Knoxville, Tennessee, is one of many older Americans whose immunity may be waning because he has not received a booster shot. The COVID States Project, an academic group, recently estimated that among people 65 and older, 13% are unvaccinated, 3% have a single Moderna or Pfizer shot, and another 14% are vaccinated but not boosted.

When vaccines first arrived, Thomas said, the state health department made getting them “convenient” by administering shots at his apartment community for older people. But he did not know of any such effort for booster doses.

On the contrary, he remembered a state official publicly casting doubt on boosters as they became available.

“The government wasn’t sure about the booster shot,” he said. “If they weren’t sure about it, and they’re the ones who put it out, why would I take it?”

Thomas said COVID recently killed a former boss of his and hospitalized an older family friend.

Deaths have fallen from the heights of the winter wave in part because of growing levels of immunity from past infections, experts said. For older people, there is also a grimmer reason: So many of the most fragile Americans were killed by COVID over the winter that the virus now has fewer targets in that age group.

But scientists warned that many older Americans remained susceptible. To protect them, geriatricians called on nursing homes to organize in-home vaccinations or mandate additional shots.

In the longer term, scientists said that policymakers needed to address the economic and medical ills that have affected especially nonwhite older Americans, lest COVID continue cutting so many of their lives short.

“I don’t think we should treat the premature death of older adults as a means of ending the pandemic,” Stokes said. “There are still plenty of susceptible older adults — living with comorbid conditions or living in multigenerational households — who are highly vulnerable.”

The pattern of COVID deaths this year has re-created the dynamics from 2020 — before vaccines were introduced, when the virus killed older Americans at markedly higher rates. Early in the pandemic, mortality rates steadily climbed with each extra year of age, Stokes and his collaborators found in a recent study.

That changed last summer and fall, during the delta surge. Older people were getting vaccinated more quickly than other groups: By November, the vaccination rate in Americans 65 and older was roughly 20 percentage points higher than that of those in their 40s. And critically, those older Americans had received vaccines relatively recently, leaving them with strong levels of residual protection.

As a result, older people suffered from COVID at lower rates than they had been before vaccines became available. Among people 85 and older, the death rate last fall was roughly 75% lower than it had been in the winter of 2020, Stokes’ recent study found.

At the same time, the virus walloped younger and less vaccinated Americans, many of whom were also returning to in-person work. Death rates for white people in their late 30s more than tripled last fall compared to the previous winter. Death rates for Black people in the same age group more than doubled.

The rebalancing of COVID deaths was so pronounced that, among Americans 80 and older, overall deaths returned to pre-pandemic levels in 2021, according to a study posted online in February. The opposite was true for middle-aged Americans: Life expectancy in that group, which had already dropped more than it had among the same age range in Europe, fell even further in 2021.

“In 2021, you see the mortality impact of the pandemic shift younger,” said Ridhi Kashyap, a lead author of that study and a demographer at the University of Oxford.

By the time the highly contagious omicron variant took over, researchers said, more older Americans had gone a long time since their last COVID vaccination, weakening their immune defenses.

As of mid-May, more than one-quarter of Americans 65 and older had not had their most recent vaccine dose within a year. And more than half of people in that age group had not been given a shot in the past six months.

The omicron variant was better than previous versions of the virus at evading those already weakening immune defenses, reducing the effectiveness of vaccines against infection and more serious illness. That was especially true for older people, whose immune systems respond less aggressively to vaccines in the first place.

For some people, even three vaccine doses appear to become less protective over time against omicron-related hospital admissions. A study published recently in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine found that trend held for people with weakened immune systems, a category that older Americans were likelier to fall into. Sara Tartof, the study’s lead author and a public health researcher at Kaiser Permanente in Southern California, said that roughly 9% of people 65 and older in the study were immunocompromised, compared with 2.5% of adults younger than 50.

During the omicron wave, COVID death rates were once again dramatically higher for older Americans than younger ones, Stokes said. Older people also made up an overwhelming share of the excess deaths — the difference between the number of people who actually died and the number who would have been expected to die if the pandemic had never happened.

Dr. Jeremy Faust, an emergency physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, found in a recent study that excess deaths were more heavily concentrated in people 65 and older during the omicron wave than the delta surge. Overall, the study found, there were more excess deaths in Massachusetts during the first eight weeks of omicron than during the 23-week period when delta dominated.

As older people began dying at higher rates, COVID deaths also came to include higher proportions of vaccinated people. In March, about 40% of the people who died from COVID were vaccinated, according to an analysis of figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Fewer older Americans have also been infected during the pandemic than younger people, leading to lower levels of natural immunity. As of February, roughly one-third of people 65 and older showed evidence of prior infections, compared with about two-thirds of adults younger than 50.

Long-ago COVID cases do not prevent future infections, but reinfected people are less likely to become seriously ill.

A drop-off in COVID precautions this winter, combined with the high transmissibility of omicron, left older people more exposed, scientists said. It is unclear how their own behavior may have changed. An earlier study, from scientists at Marquette University, suggested that while older people in Wisconsin had once been wearing masks at rates higher than those of younger people, that gap had effectively disappeared by mid-2021.

Antiviral pills are now being administered in greater numbers, but it is difficult to know who is benefiting from them. Scientists said that the wintertime spike in COVID death rates among older Americans demanded a more urgent policy response.

Inouye, of Harvard Medical School, said she had waited for a notice from her mother’s assisted living facility about the rollout of second booster shots even as reports started arriving of staff members becoming infected. But still, the facility’s director said that a second booster shot drive was impossible without state guidance.

Eventually, her family had to arrange a trip to a pharmacy on their own for a second booster.

“It just seems that now the onus is put completely on the individual,” she said. “It’s not like it’s made easy for you.”

Life-threatening inflammation is turning COVID-19 into a chronic disease

Authors: Chris Melore MAY 13, 2022 Study Finds

Long COVID continues to be a lingering problem for more and more coronavirus patients in the months following their infection. Now, a new study contends that the life-threatening inflammation many patients experience — causing long-term damage to their health — is turning COVID-19 into a chronic condition.

“When someone has a cold or even pneumonia, we usually think of the illness being over once the patient recovers. This is different from a chronic disease, like congestive heart failure or diabetes, which continue to affect patients after an acute episode. We may similarly need to start thinking of COVID-19 as having ongoing effects in many parts of the body after patients have recovered from the initial episode,” says first author Professor Arch G. Mainous III, vice chair for research in the Department of Community Health and Family Medicine at the University of Florida Gainesville, in a media release.

“Once we recognize the importance of ‘long COVID’ after seeming ‘recovery’, we need to focus on treatments to prevent later problems, such as strokes, brain dysfunction, and especially premature death.”

COVID inflammation increases risk of death one year later

The study finds COVID patients experiencing severe inflammation while in the hospital saw their risk of death skyrocket by 61 percent over the next year post-recovery.

Inflammation raising the risk of death after an illness is a seemingly confusing concept. Typically, inflammation is a natural part of the body’s immune response and healing process. However, some illnesses including COVID-19 cause this infection-fighting response to overshoot. Previous studies call this the “cytokine storm,” an event where the immune system starts attacking healthy tissue.

“COVID-19 is known to create inflammation, particularly during the first, acute episode. Our study is the first to examine the relationship between inflammation during hospitalization for COVID-19 and mortality after the patient has ‘recovered’,” Prof. Mainous says.

“Here we show that the stronger the inflammation during the initial hospitalization, the greater the probability that the patient will die within 12 months after seemingly ‘recovering’ from COVID-19.”

There is a way to stop harmful inflammation

The study examined the health records of 1,207 adults hospitalized for COVID-19 in the University of Florida health system between 2020 and 2021. Researchers followed them for at least one year after discharge — keeping track of their C-reactive protein (CRP) levels. This protein is secreted by the liver and is a common measure of systemic inflammation.

Results show patients with a more severe case of the virus and those needing oxygen or ventilation had higher CRP levels during their hospitalization. The patients with the highest CRP concentrations had a 61-percent increased risk of death over the next year after their release from the hospital.

However, the team did find that prescribing anti-inflammatory steroids after hospitalization lowered the risk of death by 51 percent. Study authors say their findings show that the current recommendations for care after a coronavirus infection need to change. Researchers recommend more widespread use of orally taken steroids following a severe case of COVID.

Growing Number Of COVID-19 Deaths Among Vaccinated People: Federal Data

Authors: Katabella Roberts via The Epoch Times MY 13, 2022

An increasing number of COVID-19 deaths are occurring among individuals in the United States who have been vaccinated, according to federal data.

In August of 2021, roughly 18.9 percent of COVID-19 deaths happened among individuals who were vaccinated, an ABC News analysis of the data shows. Six months later in February 2022, that figure had risen to over 40 percent as the highly-transmissible Omicron variant made its way across the globe.

Similarly, in September 2021, just 1.1 percent of COVID-19 deaths occurred among Americans who had been fully vaccinated and boosted once. Five months later in February, that percentage had jumped to about 25 percent, according to ABC News.

A separate analysis of federal data by CNN shows that in the second half of September 2021—when the Delta variant was at its peak—less than a quarter of all COVID-19 deaths were among individuals who were vaccinated with at least two doses of the Moderna or Pfizer/BioNTech mRNA vaccines or a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. However, just months later in January and February as Omicron surged, that figure had jumped to 40 percent.

Some experts believe the increase in deaths among fully vaccinated people or “breakthrough infections” in those who have received all their shots is not overly concerning, saying it is because while more and more people become fully vaccinated, new variants emerge and vaccine protection begins to wane as fewer people continue to get booster shots.

These data should not be interpreted as vaccines not working. In fact, these real-world analyses continue to reaffirm the incredible protection these vaccines afford especially when up to date with boosters,” said John Brownstein, an epidemiologist at Boston Children’s Hospital and an ABC News contributor.

Despite an increasing number of deaths among the vaccinated, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that vaccines are safe and effective. Data from the government agency says that overall, the risk of death from COVID-19 is roughly five times higher in unvaccinated individuals than in those who have had at least their initial dose of a vaccine.

However, in some cases, serious adverse events such as thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (blood clots), myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle), and pericarditis (inflammation of the outer lining of the heart) have been documented.

As of May 4, around 257.9 million people in the United States, or 77.7 percent of the total population in the nation have received at least one dose of vaccine, while roughly 219.9 million people, or 66.2 percent of the total U.S. population, have been fully vaccinated.

Around 100.9 million of those who are fully vaccinated have received a booster shot, while 49.4 percent of those eligible for booster shots have not yet had one.

As the Omicron variant swept through the nation, an increasing number of vulnerable, older populations were being hospitalized, and 73 percent of deaths have been among those 65 and older, despite the fact that 90 percent of seniors have had all of their vaccine shots.

However, a large percentage—a third of them—have not yet had their booster jab.

“This trend in increased risk among the elderly further supports the need for community-wide immunization,” Brownstein said. “Older populations, especially those with underlying conditions, continue to be at great risk of severe complications, especially as immunity wanes. The best way to protect them is to make sure everyone around them is fully immunized.”

The data comes a month after pharmaceutical and biotechnology company Moderna said that preliminary results from its study on a COVID-19 vaccine intended to protect against variants showed that it outperformed the company’s currently authorized booster shot, mRNA-1273.

Moderna said on April 19 that its mRNA-1273.211 shot, its first bivalent booster vaccine candidate, showed “superiority” against the Beta, Delta, and Omicron variants of the virus one month after being administered, compared to the booster shot of its original vaccine currently in use.