That is the conclusion from Woolf et al. (2020) in JAMA this past week. The authors examine rates of COVID-19 mortality in the US between March and October 2020 and compare them with other leading causes of death from March to October 2018. We see that COVID-19 is currently the 3rd leading cause of death in the US, and that does not take into account the recent spike in cases between November and December.
As we all know, COVID-19 is particularly dangerous for the elderly. The mortality rate for those aged 85 and above from COVID-19 is about 100 times higher than those aged 35-44.
This follows on worse news that a new, more transmissible COVID-19 mutation may now be moving throughout the UK. As NPR reports:
The new mutation could be up to 70% more transmissible than earlier variants of the virus, Susan Hopkins of Public Health England told the BBC. This variant was first identified in the middle of October from a sample taken in September, Hopkins said.
“In early December, while we were trying to understand why [cases in] Kent and Medway continued to increase despite the national restrictions, we found a cluster that was growing very fast.”
…While the new variant seems to be more infectious, scientists say there is no evidence that it leads to a more severe illness, according to Vivek Murthy, who President-elect Joe Biden has announced as his nominee for U.S. Surgeon General. “There’s no reason to believe that the vaccines that have been developed will not be effective against this virus as well,” Murthy said on NBC’s Meet the Press.
In short, it’s time to ramp up vaccine production and get people vaccinated!