There is still confusion about what happened during the pandemic. The public health response was innovative, defying historic precedent.
Was it effective?
One reason it is hard to know is that the health records are administered by the same agency — the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) — that managed the pandemic.
Death certificates are subjective, and the listed cause of death is prone to error and outright manipulation. Death counts are often reliable, even when the cause of death is debatable.
The CDC recently released death counts from 2021, and they are even higher than 2020.
In addition to the deaths attributed to COVID-19, there were 155,000 excess deaths in 2020-21 among younger Americans. It is a reasonable conjecture that these deaths were related to the circumstances of the pandemic.
Below, I lay out the numbers and explore some interpretations.
The CDC keeps track of how many people die each year, their ages, the place and the cause of death. Data is released to the public 18 months after year-end through a searchable resource called CDC WONDER.
All-cause mortality data for 2021 was recently released. Unexplained high death rates in 2020 continued and accelerated in 2021.
On top of the death burden of COVID-19, there were 155,000 extra deaths in people under 65. (I focus on people aged 15-64 because COVID-19 deaths are relatively rare. Only about one-fifth of COVID-19 deaths were under 65.)
Deaths in this younger age group were up 19% in 2020 compared to the average of the previous five years. In 2021, deaths were even higher, up 30% compared to the same baseline.
Most of this is not accounted for by COVID-19. Excluding COVID-19 deaths, there is an excess of 17% in 2020 and 23% in 2021. That’s 155,000 unexplained deaths.
COVID-19 deaths in this age group were 220,000 over two years, so the unexplained deaths are two-thirds of the official COVID-19 death count. Excluding the oldest group (55-64 years), the unexplained deaths are actually greater than the COVID-19 deaths.
Word on the Hill is that official counts of COVID-19 deaths were overstated, so the difference becomes more dramatic and the cause more mysterious.
These numbers are far outside year-to-year fluctuations (~20,000) or statistical uncertainties — 155,000 Americans is almost three Vietnam Wars. The last time younger Americans were dying at the 2021-22 rate was World War II.
Proportionally, the excess deaths were concentrated in the 25-44 age group. But the highest absolute numbers were in the oldest age group (55-64), as is almost always the case.
Excess deaths among males and females were skewed 64:36, but this is actually normal; in this age range, men are dying at a much higher rate than women.
The biggest wave of excess deaths occurred from August through October 2021. This was not a period of heavy vaccination and it is off-season for respiratory infections. It was, however a time when vaccine mandates were kicking in for students returning to school and for many employees.
Denis Rancourt relates the fall deaths to a campaign for “vaccine equity” in the rural South.
The second biggest wave was from December 2020 through February 2021. This was a time when COVID-19 was reaching its second wave, but remember that COVID-19 deaths are excluded in this tabulation.
Speculation is that the initial release of the Pfizer vaccine was so toxic that the formula was changed within a few weeks. This hypothesis is supported by Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) data, which were surging during these same months….