News and Analysis

U.S. COVID-19 Deaths In 2021 Top 2020
Coronavirus background
Yuichiro Chino via Getty Images

Deaths from COVID-19 in 2021 have topped those in 2020 in the United States.

According to the latest available data from Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering, there have been 771,118 COVID-19 deaths since the virus first emerged. The number of deaths involving COVID-19 in 2020 was 385,343 on Monday, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That means there have been 385,775 deaths involving COVID-19 in 2021 so far.

According to the CDC, unvaccinated individuals are 11 times more likely to die of COVID-19 than vaccinated individuals.

During President Joe Biden’s time in office, there have been 373,506 deaths from the virus. When former President Donald Trump was in office, there were 397,612 COVID deaths, according to John Hopkins data.

The grim milestone comes even as some 69% of the U.S. population are at least partially vaccinated, with 6 in 10 fully vaccinated, according to CDC data.  Nearly 100% of people aged 65 or older, the most vulnerable to the virus, are at least partially vaccinated, with 86% fully vaccinated, the CDC data shows.

Cases of the virus began to drop in September, but they have begun trending upward again as winter looms. Last week, 29 states had higher COVID-19 cases than the week before, according to USA Today.

“New coronavirus infections are rising again in most states for the first time in two months, and deaths are increasing in about half of the states, a USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins University data reveals. In the week ending Wednesday, case counts were higher in 29 states than they were the week before. A month ago, cases were rising in just 12 states,” the paper reported.

“The states now reporting increased infections are primarily in the North, which had fared far better in the late summer as the delta variant clobbered the South. Vermont, an early leader in vaccinations, is now seeing record case numbers. Florida, which has suffered the most deaths of any state since July 1 – 22,600 – now reports the lowest daily per-capita case count of any state. The three remaining school districts with mask requirements in the state are dropping them,” USA Today added.

Meanwhile, global deaths in 2021 have also surpassed those in 2020, The Wall Street Journal reported in June. The newspaper reported that 1.883 million people had died from or with COVID-19 in 2021, topping the 2020 global death toll of 1.882 million.

The news comes as drug company Pfizer moves to win approval for its COVID-19 pill treatment from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Last week, Pfizer announced that “it is seeking Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) of its investigational oral antiviral candidate, PAXLOVID™ […] for the treatment of mild to moderate COVID-19 in patients at increased risk of hospitalizations or death.”

“If authorized or approved, PAXLOVID would be the first oral antiviral of its kind … that could be prescribed as an at-home treatment to high-risk patients at the first sign of infection, potentially helping patients avoid severe illness which can lead to hospitalization and death,” the announcement noted.

The Journal reported: “Initial supplies of Pfizer’s pill would be limited. Pfizer projects it will manufacture more than 180,000 courses of treatment this year, and plans to increase production to at least 50 million courses next year.”

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