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Life Expectancy in the US has dropped a median of 2 years since March 2020. Over a million Americans have died of COVID. We are doing worse than most other advanced nations as a result of the former guy’s mismanagement. None but me dare call it treason.

2022-09-05

COVID-19 was one of the top three causes of mortality in the US and number one in ages 40-54, according to a study of the leading causes of death during the eighteen months starting in March 2020 and ending in October 2021. Out of six million total deaths, over a million were ascribed to COVID. Among the most significant findings:

“Among people who were 85 or older, COVID-19 was the second leading cause of death during the first 9 months and the third leading cause during the second 9 months.”

“Among middle-aged people (age range, 45–54), COVID-19 was the fourth leading cause of death during the first 9 months and the top cause of death during the second 9 months.”

“For every age group from 1 to 44, accidental death was the top cause of death for both time periods.”

So, during the period January-October 2021, the leading cause of death among middle-aged people was COVID-19; accidental deaths outnumbered COVID deaths among younger people. The deaths among those 45 to 54 are partly related to the low uptake of coronavirus vaccines in this age group.

Only 56% of all adults in the US were fully vaccinated by October 2021. The other big cause of mortality was poor compliance with mask-wearing among the middle-aged population (this is my anecdotal opinion.)

Vaccine rates among the elderly have been as high as 92-95%, which helps to account for their dropping death rates from infection despite their poor immune systems and high death rates once infected. Uptake rates among younger adults ranged between 70 to 65%.

That’s good rates, especially among the elderly, but it’s not enough. Experts have estimated that vaccine rates of over 90% are needed to really arrest a pandemic as contagious as COVID. As a result, COVID was the leading cause of death among those 45-54 during January-October 2021. Why has the vaccine not gotten universal acceptance among the young and middle-aged?

One answer is that there is a concerted disinformation campaign by a large group of vaccine deniers, especially on social media and through lawsuits to prevent mandatory masking and shots. Content on social media comes from the opinions, ramblings, and delusions of uninformed people– there is no special emphasis on the opinions of people who really know what they are talking about.

The opinions of those who really understand the underlying science and the hard numbers are not given any platform or special emphasis. Instead, the opinions of ignoramus types are equally represented without any information about whom to believe.

The former guy was a master at exploiting the lack of emphasis on informed opinion on Twitter, for example. He used Twitter and Facebook to spread lies that minimized the risk, failed to push the population to set themselves on a war footing against COVID, boosted useless or dangerous remedies like hydroxychloroquine and bleach injections, denigrated experts like Dr. Fauci, ridiculed masks (and lied that they didn’t work) and on and on.

The former guy could have made a public media event out of getting his vaccinations, but he didn’t– he did it in secret. All the other presidents publicly got their shots and made sure the media was informed.

If you looked in the right place, you could find the warning that everyone should get his shots as soon as possible, and everyone should wear a mask in public. But that information was not emphasized in a consistent way– it should have been presented to all users as soon as they signed in on the web sites. At best, some of the gross disinformation was treated with a tepid warning box that linked to accurate information.

Only the worst of lies about COVID was removed by Twitter “censors”, and even then, the work was spotty and incomplete.

Why didn’t Twitter (for example) put up information boxes for everyone to see first every time they signed on? Before they were exposed to disinformation from all sides?

There are so many simple things that could have been done, that would have made things better. Another example would have been if the former guy took the initiative in March 2020: if he had told everyone to wear masks and took the time to walk around in public with a mask on. Masks would have obviated the need to close down all the schools for so long (another disruptive move, which has resulted in massive losses in education levels.)

That one failure, to promote mask wearing, dramatically worsened the spread of COVID throughout the US. Some countries are accustomed to wearing masks in public (Korea and Japan, for example) and they have had much better experiences with COVID, even without sufficient vaccines. We should have had a big campaign to make masks popular, fashionable, and even de rigueur, led by the President, who should have worn a mask everywhere, even while giving speeches.

Hindsight is 20/20, but we can learn from our mistakes. We can get our shots and wear masks all the time in public. We are facing a potential spike in COVID-19 Omicron B.5 this winter, and the new vaccine just approved by the FDA could arrest it– but only if everyone gets their shots. The only difference with Omicron that we know for sure is that it is much more contagious than the original coronavirus– making cloth masks obsolete and N-95 respirators de rigueur. (sorry, no references at hand for the differences between old and new.)

Remember that the more people who get COVID infections, even if they are mild, the more chances the virus has to mutate into a more infectious and more efficient predator. Minimizing the total number of infections is extremely important, even among the very young (who are efficient spreaders because they usually have mild disease and interact with many other children.)

I have an appointment on September 15 to get my fourth vaccine– this time against Omicron. I urge you to do the same, and if your primary series isn’t complete, get that out of the way (although the new shot, given twice, should substitute for the primary series of shots. Sorry, I can’t make the rules about things like that.)

photo by anastasia gepp courtesy of pixabay.com

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