Bearing Witness to the Pandemic December 2022

Approaching three years into the pandemic, some 300-400 Americans are still dying each and every day across the country from COVID-related illnesses.  More than 25,000 are hospitalized. This year’s death toll has exceeded 200,000 with a total death count of nearly 1.1 million. The good news is that now only 1 in 200,000 infections leads to death compared to 1 in 200 at the start of the pandemic in early 2020.

Hospitalizations for COVID-19 are once again rising by up to 30% a few weeks after Thanksgiving. Older adults are making up the majority of new deaths. Health officials are worried that vaccine fatigue has set in, discouraging Americans from getting their 4th booster shot.  

Researchers at the VA report that repeat COVID infections are riskier than the first. Those patients who fall ill are 2-3 times more likely to be hospitalized or die, regardless of if they had been vaccinated or boosted.

Pregnant women remain at higher risk for being hospitalized due to COVID. In the early months of the pandemic, about 1 in 3 pregnant women ended up in the hospital. Officials report that some 30% of pregnant women are not fully vaccinated, despite the risk. Misinformation about vaccines was cited as a leading reason for the hesitation to get the shots.  

A CDC study reports that long COVID has contributed to at least 3,500 excess deaths in the US.

After weeks of civil unrest, China has loosened its zero COVID policy controls across much of the country. Restrictions like forced mass testing, contact tracing, and removal of those infected to quarantine facilities are being relaxed. Much of the population is not vaccinated nor do they have immunity from previous infections. As a result, China is now bracing for a surge in cases, hospitalizations, and deaths that much of the rest of the world has already been through.

The COVAX vaccination program for poor or developing countries has delivered 1.7 billion doses. Now, it may be coming to an end in 2023 due to falling demand. 

The number of kids killed by firearms rose some 50% during the pandemic, according to a study in JAMA. The leading cause of death in children is now due to firearms, the other more deadly pandemic.

At the end of the month and year, COVID is said to be spreading out of control across China with millions of new cases each day suspected. Hospitals, morgues, and crematoriums are said to be full, and medications being rationed. All while the government says little officially, claiming official deaths are in the single digits. World health officials are fearing 1-2 million Chinese may die this year. 

The CDC is worried about new virus variants and subvariants arising in Asia that evade American vaccines and immunity and is expanding its efforts to monitor.  China, however, is not helping by providing a summary of what variants they are seeing arise. As a result, the US reinstates a policy requiring negative tests for travelers coming from China. More Americans have resorted to wearing masks again when out in public due to the combined risks of COVID, the worst flu season in a decade, and RSV. It was only a year ago that the country experienced the largest wave of new infections  

This is the sad state of things nearly three years of living, and dying, into the Pandemic. 

The above news items have been taken from a range of local, regional, national and international news media including print, broadcast, and digital sources, but no social media. Additional editorial opinions and comments about these news items are those of this author.

The featured image is from CDC Covid Tracker showing the trends in confirmed deaths in the US since the pandemic began.

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