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The curious case of COVID mortality rates among young adults after vaccines became available

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The introduction of the COVID-19 vaccines at the beginning of 2021 produced a massive decline in mortality from the disease among the elderly.

Here’s the decline in COVID mortality between the fourth quarter of 2020 and the third quarter of 2021 among geriatric populations in the USA:

Age:

85+ -67%

75-84: -50%

These figures are much larger than the decline in COVID mortality for the population as a whole, which fell by 28% between these two quarters.

How did the introduction of the COVID vaccines manage to produce such a massive decline in the most vulnerable populations, yet at the same time end up producing a much smaller decline in COVID mortality for the population as a whole? This seems counter-intuitive, considering that elderly people have always accounted for the vast majority of COVID deaths, and those people are of course a subset of the population-wide figures.

The answer is found by looking at the comparable figures for young adults.

Change in mortality rates for COVID-19 between the fourth quarter of 2020 and the third quarter of 2021 among young adults:

Age:

25-34: +257%

35-44: +216%

COVID mortality rates among young adults more than tripled between the fourth quarter of 2020 and the third quarter of 2021, even though nobody was vaccinated during the former time period and everybody — with the exception of a tiny number of people who couldn’t receive the vaccine — who wanted to be vaccinated was vaccinated by the latter quarter. This shocking increase in COVID morality rates among young adults is of course almost literally 100% a product of people in these age groups choosing not to get vaccinated, since the mortality rate from COVID among vaccinated young adults is very close to zero.

Indeed COVID mortality accounts for about one third of the increase in all-cause mortality among 25-34 year olds since the beginning of the epidemic. This was a startling 202 per 100,000 in the third quarter of 2021. What’s startling about this figure is that it’s literally double what the mortality rate among 25-34 year olds was 20 years ago. Indeed you have to go back 75 years to find an all-cause mortality rate that high in that age cohort.

Note that 75 years ago the age-adjusted all-cause mortality rate for the population as a whole was nearly double what it was in 2021, despite the COVID epidemic, and was more than double the pre-pandemic figure.

Statistics here.

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