COVID-19 has officially killed over 900,000 people in the United States as of February 4, a grim milestone reached a mere 51 days after surpassing 800,000 deaths on December 15 of last year. This is the highest recorded death toll of any country in the world, a global total that now stands at over 5,750,000 deaths—certainly an undercount on both the US and global death tolls, according to experts that track these numbers.

As of the writing of this article, the official death toll in the US is a little over 905,000, a loss equivalent to the entirety of the population of Columbus, Ohio; comparing war deaths to COVID fatalities no longer holds much weight, as the US’s bloodiest conflict, the American Civil War, a four-year conflict with a death toll that has been eclipsed by the pandemic’s 23-month rampage by nearly 40 percent.

“It is an astronomically high number,” remarks Dr. Ashish K. Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health. “If you had told most Americans two years ago as this pandemic was getting going that 900,000 Americans would die over the next few years, I think most people would not have believed it,” Jha also points out that the majority of these deaths occurred after the vaccines were approved for use.

Indeed, it is no coincidence that the US also has the lowest vaccination rate amongst the world’s developed nations, with only 64 percent—well less than two thirds—of the population having received at least two doses of one of the FDA approved vaccines, despite the country being at the forefront in developing the vaccines, proven to be safe and effective in the fight against the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.

“We got the medical science right. We failed on the social science. We failed on how to help people get vaccinated, to combat disinformation, to not politicize this,” according to Jha. “Those are the places where we have failed as America.”

The official count of 900,000 dead is also certainly an undercount, according to researchers that track excess mortality rate statistics: not all deaths due to COVID-19 are recorded, with many undiagnosed individuals dying at home, either unable or unwilling to attend a clinic or hospital before succumbing to the disease. Additionally, deaths indirectly caused by the pandemic, such as drug overdoses, cardiovascular issues or cancer, might have been caused by reduced access to health care facilities due to those facilities being overwhelmed by COVID-19 cases.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 1 million more people are estimated to have died since February 1, 2020 than what would have been expected over the last two years, implying that the number of pandemic fatalities, both directly and indirectly related to COVID-19, might be higher than what the official count says by 100,000 deaths.

“I think it’s fair to say that over 1 million Americans would still be alive today if not for the pandemic,” according to David Dowdy, an infectious disease epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

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  1. Not this Covid BS again?!
    I’m a fan but I don’t buy this narrative.

    1. What narrative, that covid exists, or that it kills people? Both are beyond any form of doubt to rational, sane people. I’ve had the thing, it is nasty, like nothing I’d ever experienced before, and nearly 2 years later I am still suffering the effects from it. Anyone who thinks covid is “just like a cold” is an ignorant fool…

    2. I work in an ER and I have seen the people drowning in their mucus on vents. And to people like you I say come down and help us.

    3. which part do you take exception to? I have to stand up for the two dead in my family and the two years of isolation by myself in a non-masking community- All you have to do is simply compare global stats.

  2. They already know that there are many COVID deaths that are not accounted for…Why? Because they also know that people in some parts of the country (Louisiana for example) do not want COVID listed on relatives’ death certificate. There was a case that I read in the newspaper about a man who was ill with COVID who gave his best friend, who was a coroner, instructions to not list COVID on the certificate if he died—just list pneumonia. Well, he did die and his friend honored his wishes. It turns out that states and localities have different rules, and if people die at home instead of a hospital, well..

    I worked in public health, and I am not surprised by the attitudes I have seen surrounding COVID. Everything has become politicized, and it was even bad 10 years ago, pre-COVID. I worked with vaccines, did contract tracing, and also emergency preparedness, outreach and education, and was extremely busy with H1N1—a cakewalk compared to COVID. It’s about public health and protecting as many people as possible from death and the ravages of serious disease. Special clinics are being set up specifically for ‘long haulers’, and that is frightening, because COVID may give you a mild form of the disease…that may never fully go away, compromising the body in various ways.

    And God bless those in the healthcare community, doctors, nurses, and support staff who are in the middle of it, overworked, understaffed, and not getting the respect and admiration that they deserve.

  3. I’ve always wondered about the presumed covid numbers? And how that can be official? When you say somebody probably has something that they may or may not have, especially if they are asymptomatic I’m not quite sure how that rings as Based on data? I work with some Er and health care providers who thinks that the test is not exactly accurate, including those who are asymptomatic.

    1. These are excellent questions; and of course, there are answers:

      These numbers are based on positive PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests that directly detect genetic signatures unique to SARS-CoV-2 RNA, hence why one doesn’t need to be symptomatic to diagnosed with COVID-19.

      The FDA has set an accuracy threshold of 95% for false negatives and 98% for false positives for labs running these tests: this means that for every 100 individuals that are actually infected, only 5 are allowed to be diagnosed as clear of the virus; and for every 100 individuals that aren’t infected, only 2 are allowed to be misdiagnosed as infected.

      While false negatives happen more often–the virus can be easy to miss at certain points in the infection–false positives are far less common, since if the genetic markers aren’t there to begin with, it’s not easy to misinterpret the test results.

      The tallies discussed in the article only include cases that have had a positive diagnosis, and since they’re based on lab results and not presumptions made by health care workers, we can assume that they’re reasonably accurate.

      As a hypothetical, let’s assume that all of the tests ever run have only met the bare minimum for the false negatives: as of right now the JHU dashboard is reporting 948,215 coronavirus deaths in the US, meaning that once that two percent is deducted only (only!) 929,251 people will have died of COVID-19.

      However, if we were to assume that the 95% threshold for false negatives was also only just met, that means that the official number would be undercounted by 3%, meaning the proper count would actually be 976,661. Interestingly, the regulations mean that, with all things being equal, COVID-19 cases will always be slightly undercounted.

      Having said that, as I stated in the article, that 900k+ official number isn’t anywhere near accurate, since there are multitudes of COVID-related deaths that go undiagnosed; I went with the CDC number since its 100,000-death estimate was the lower of the ones I had found.

      Your coworkers are correct in that the PCR tests are “not exactly accurate”; however, the accuracy of this nearly four-decade-old technology is far more than adequate for the reliable detection of a genetically-novel virus.

      This article from Montreal’s McGill University offers a good rundown of what the PCR test does to detect genetic markers. The PCR process itself was invented by an experiencer, Kary Mullis, who passed away mere months before his invention became a household phrase.

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