A milestone

Where vaccine-resistance gets us:

The United States surpassed 700,000 deaths from the coronavirus on Friday, a milestone that few experts had anticipated months ago when vaccines became widely available to the American public.

An overwhelming majority of Americans who have died in recent months, a period in which the country has offered broad access to shots, were unvaccinated. The United States has had one of the highest recent death rates of any country with an ample supply of vaccines.

Why? Because we also have one of the highest rates of stupid.

The new and alarming surge of deaths this summer means that the coronavirus pandemic has become the deadliest in American history, overtaking the toll from the influenza pandemic of 1918 and 1919, which killed about 675,000 people.

That’s absolute numbers though, so it’s debatable whether the rona is the deadliest. Deadliest in absolute numbers but not per capita.

Not that that’s anything to brag about.

“This Delta wave just rips through the unvaccinated,” said Howard Markel, a medical historian at the University of Michigan. The deaths that have followed the wide availability of vaccines, he added, are “absolutely needless.”

This is why I stare in disbelief at Twitter warriors raging at vaccination.

The recent virus deaths are distinct from those in previous chapters of the pandemic, an analysis by The New York Times shows. People who died in the last three and a half months were concentrated in the South, a region that has lagged in vaccinations; many of the deaths were reported in Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas. And those who died were younger: In August, every age group under 55 had its highest death toll of the pandemic.

Vaccines have been proven highly effective in preventing severe illness and death, and a study from the C.D.C. that was published in September found that after Delta became the dominant variant, unvaccinated people were more than 10 times as likely to die of the virus as the vaccinated were. The study, which spanned from April to mid-July, used data from 10 states, New York City, Los Angeles County and King County, Wash., which includes Seattle.

But the Twitter warriors shout that it’s the government wanting to control us.

But the recent deaths have left families and friends, some of whom said they had thought the pandemic was largely over, stunned and devastated. Weary doctors and nurses voiced frustration that many of the patients whose lives they were now struggling to save had shunned vaccines.

I’d be voicing more than frustration.

Vaccine mandates have begun to take effect in some states and within some companies, and on Friday, California became the first state to announce plans to add the coronavirus vaccine to other vaccinations required to attend school, starting as early as next fall. But only 65 percent of the eligible U.S. population is fully vaccinated. The nation’s vaccination campaign has been slowed by people who say they are hesitant or unwilling to get shots, amid a polarized landscape that has included misinformation from conservative and anti-vaccine commentators casting doubt on the safety of vaccines.

But why? That’s what I’ll never get. It’s like saying doctors are the enemy, or fire departments are stealing our souls, or clean water is the devil’s work.

12 Responses to “A milestone”

Leave a Comment

Subscribe without commenting