President Biden said that the pandemic was over during an interview last Saturday, but COVID-19 remains a leading cause of death in the U.S. An average of 500 Americans die daily from the virus and experts predict that the disease will remain a leading cause of death indefinitely, despite optimism that the real danger is behind us.
According to NBC News, COVID-19 was the third-leading cause of death in 2020, after heart disease and cancer. Preliminary data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) predict last year’s rankings to stay the same. Since April of this year, deaths from COVID-19 have remained flat with a weekly average of 300 to 500 per day which would put the annual death rate between 113,000 and 188,000 Americans in 2022. This would rank deaths from COVID-19 on par with Alzheimer’s, chronic lower respiratory diseases, and stroke.
By comparison, influenza kills about 12,000 to 52,000 people annually, according to the CDC. Flu and pneumonia combined were the ninth-leading cause of death in 2020 falling out of the top 10 last year. Experts say that wearing masks and social distancing helped reduce the number of cases of the flu since the pandemic began.
“It’s likely, when we think of the causes of death in our society, that COVID’s on the list probably forever,” said Dr. Robert M. Wachter, a renowned expert on COVID-19 and professor and chair of the Department of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. Wachter announced that while he’s finally willing to ditch his mask to eat indoors, saying that the pandemic is over is a “judgment call.”
“Clearly the threat is far lower than it was, people have the means to stay fairly safe, and at some point, we need to shift from an emergency footing to a sustainable long-term strategy,” he said. Experts believe that COVID-19 is likely to remain on the top 10 list of most common causes of death in the foreseeable future, in spite of vaccines, boosters and treatments, said NBC News.
But statisticians at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), a University of Washington research organization that models COVID-19 deaths, predicts that deaths will decline over the next two months.
“It would not surprise me if we have a similar magnitude of deaths fromm COVID as we do from flu,” said Dr. Chris Murray, the director of IHME. And Wachter added that some of the deaths documented now are not directly caused by COVID-19 but the result of other illnesses.
“Having filled out hundreds of death certificates in my life, I know some of these deaths are ‘with’ rather than ‘from’ COVID,” he said. Experts at IHME say that deaths could plummet even further if people continue to wear masks. Wachter said the U.S. could slash the death count in half if more people took advantage of vaccines, boosters, or treatments.
And many feel that Biden’s remark regarding the end of the pandemic was premature.
“If we were to see the number of deaths from COVID down to what we see on an annual basis for flu —somewhere in the 20,000-a-year range — we’ll then say the pandemic is clearly over,’ said Dr. Eric Toner, senior scientist in the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
And on Monday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, tempered Biden’s statement that the pandemic is over, according to Kaiser Health News.
“We are not where we need to be if we are going to quote ‘live with the virus’ because we know we are not going to eradicate it,” he said. Fauci added that it is unlikely we will eliminate COVID-19 from the U.S. or the rest of the world because it is highly transmissible and immunity from infection or vaccine is transient.
© 2022 NewsmaxHealth. All rights reserved.