US experienced higher COVID-19 mortality during delta and omicron waves

A recent study published in JAMA provides the estimates of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)-related mortality and excess all-cause mortality in the US and 20 peer countries during the delta and omicron waves of infection.

Study: COVID-19 and Excess All-Cause Mortality in the US and 20 Comparison Countries, June 2021-March 2022. Image Credit: MIA Studio/Shutterstock
Study: COVID-19 and Excess All-Cause Mortality in the US and 20 Comparison Countries, June 2021-March 2022. Image Credit: MIA Studio/Shutterstock

Background

The COVID-19 pandemic caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has caused significant damage to the global healthcare and economic sectors. The highest number of COVID-19 mortality has been observed in the USA. The country has also experienced higher excess all-cause mortality than others during the year 2020.

With the rapid deployment of effective COVID-19 vaccines, a considerable drop in new cases and mortality has been observed worldwide. However, with the emergence of novel viral variants, a gradual drop in vaccine efficacy has been noticed over time.

In the current study, scientists have compared COVID-19-related mortality and excess all-cause mortality in the US and 20 peer Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries during the delta and winter omicron waves.  

Study design

The scientists collected the US COVID-19-related mortality, all-cause mortality, and vaccination data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The overall US data and the ten most- and least-vaccinated state data were considered in the analysis.

For other peer countries, they collected COVID-19 mortality data from the World Health Organization (WHO), all-cause mortality data from the OECD databases, and vaccination data from Our World in Data.     

The mortality rates were estimated over two periods: the delta-dominated period (June 2021 to December 2021) and the omicron-dominated period (December 2021 to March 2022). The mortality in each period was compared with the mortality in 2015-2019 to estimate excess all-cause mortality.

Observations

The estimated COVID-19-related mortality rates in the US were 61 per 100,000 and 51 per 100,000 during the delta and omicron periods, respectively. The overall US mortality rate and the state-wise mortality rate according to the vaccination status were significantly higher than that observed in other peer countries.

A significant difference in mortality rate was observed between the states with high and low vaccine coverage. Specifically, states with high vaccine coverage (73%) had 75 deaths per 100,000 persons; in contrast, states with low vaccine coverage (52%) had 146 deaths per 100,000 persons.

The excess all-cause mortality rate in the US was estimated to be 145 per 100,000 persons, which was significantly higher than that observed in other peer countries. However, the excess all-cause mortality rate in states with high vaccine coverage was comparable to that in other peer countries during the combined delta and omicron period.

Considering each period separately, a significantly higher excess all-cause mortality was observed in these states compared to that in many peer countries during the omicron period. However, a considerably lower excess all-cause mortality than COVID-19 mortality was observed in these states during this wave.

Predicted mortality rates

According to the predictions made by matching the US COVID-19 mortality with that of the ten most-vaccinated states, the country would have prevented 122,304 deaths during the combined delta and omicron period.

Similarly, in a condition of identical excess all-cause mortality between the US and the ten most-vaccinated states, the US would have prevented 266,700 deaths during the entire period.

In a condition of identical mortality rates between the US and other peer countries, the US would have prevented 154,622 – 357,899 deaths for COVID-19 and 209,924 – 465,747 for all-cause mortality.  

Study significance

The study estimates that the US experienced significantly higher COVID-19 mortality and excess all-cause mortality than other peer countries during 2021 and early 2022. However, the states with high vaccine coverage do not reflect a similar situation. This finding highlights the importance of COVID-19 vaccination in reducing the mortality rate.

Journal reference:
Dr. Sanchari Sinha Dutta

Written by

Dr. Sanchari Sinha Dutta

Dr. Sanchari Sinha Dutta is a science communicator who believes in spreading the power of science in every corner of the world. She has a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) degree and a Master's of Science (M.Sc.) in biology and human physiology. Following her Master's degree, Sanchari went on to study a Ph.D. in human physiology. She has authored more than 10 original research articles, all of which have been published in world renowned international journals.

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Comments

  1. Chuck Salerno Chuck Salerno United States says:

    How could we NOT have a higher rate?  We are continually allowing an invasion of disease carrying illegal aliens, refugees,  DACA, and dreamers... untested and disease carrying.

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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