On Sunday, the number of deaths attributed to the Wuhan coronavirus in the U.S. reached 800,000, according to the count relied on by most mainstream media sources. According to Worldometer (the source for all numbers cited below), the U.S. death toll reached 800,000 earlier and now stands at more than 823,000. There’s a good chance it will reach one million in 2022.
More Americans have now died from this virus during Joe Biden’s presidency than during Donald Trump’s, despite the fact that Biden’s term has coincided with the mass vaccination of America. Biden blamed Donald Trump for the covid deaths that occurred during his presidency and argued that this death toll should disqualify Trump from holding that office.
Looking ahead, I see bad news and good news. The bad news is that we’re almost certainly headed for a large spike in covid cases. We see the beginning of the spike in current numbers.
At the beginning of November, we were averaging about 75,000 new reported cases per day. Now, we’re averaging around 125,000. Cold weather and the rise of the new variant seem bound to keep pushing the number higher.
There’s little room for doubt that the new variant is extraordinarily contagious. In South Africa, where it emerged early on, new cases shot up from 2,500 a day in late November, to 16,000 in early December, to around 30,000 now.
New cases also seem to be spiking in the UK. A month ago, they were averaging around 40,000 per day. By early December they were averaging close to 55,000, a number that approached the all-time UK high.
Yesterday, new cases reached 78,000, smashing the all-time record.
In the U.S., the all-time high for new reported cases in a day is 300,000. Right now, we’re averaging less than half that number. However, I think there’s a good chance we will exceed 300,000 cases per day this winter. Keep in mind that just a few months ago, new cases in the UK were only at around half the record high.
That’s the bad news.
The good news — somewhat more tentative than the bad — is that there is reason to believe that daily record numbers of new cases here would not produce anything close to record numbers of daily deaths. I base this assessment (1) on the belief that vaccines will be somewhat effective in preventing serious illness from the new variant and (2) on UK and South African data.
In the UK, cases have been rising since October and have risen fairly sharply since November. The daily death toll has remained flat, however. At the beginning of September, there about 200 deaths per day attributed to the virus. That’s still about the average number.
Here’s another way of looking at the numbers. Three weeks ago, the number of new cases per day in the UK was within shouting distance of the all-time high. Currently, the daily death count is less than one-tenth of the all-time record for that statistic.
What I don’t know is the percentage of new UK cases three weeks ago that were due to the new variant. But there’s no reason to believe that the new variant is more deadly than the delta variant which has predominated in the UK for much of this year. In fact, as we will now see, there’s reason to believe that it’s less deadly.
In South Africa, we know that the new variant has been generating most of the new covid cases for some time. And, as we have seen, it has produced a skyrocketing of new cases.
However, it hasn’t produced a big increase in daily deaths. In fact, it hasn’t produced any increase.
In late November, when the new variant started pushing the number of new cases up, South Africa was averaging around 50 covid deaths per day. It’s still averaging around that number.
We have to be careful with these numbers because obviously there’s a lag between the time one tests positive for covid and the time one might die from it. However, with past spikes in South African cases, we started to see daily deaths mount within three weeks of the new cases spike.
Three weeks into the latest new cases spike, we’re not seeing a rise in the daily death toll.
I’m pretty sure we will see a rise soon. But there’s a good chance that, as in the UK, we won’t see nearly as high a proportion of deaths to cases as South Africa has suffered in the past.
The same is likely to be true in the U.S.
When the Wuhan coronavirus began claiming lives in the Spring of 2021, some expected the death count to be similar to what we suffer during a bad flu season. That turned out not nearly to be the case.
Perhaps it will prove much closer to the truth in the new wave of coronavirus infections. .