After a tough start to the year, 2021 held the promise of vaccine rollout and reduced cases and fatalities. That worked really well as vulnerable people got vaccinated and eventually vaccines became available for all. By the end of the year vaccines were available for children and over 8bn — yes EIGHT BILLION doses of vaccine were administered world wide.
Unfortunately the delta variant caused a major flair up in India in April / May — which then eventually became the cause for most cases and deaths in the US in Q3 2021.
Now we’re dealing with Omicron surge — identified in South Africa in Nov / December — and very rapidly becoming the source for new cases here in the US.
As we end the year — the pressure on the hospital system over the next 2 to 3 months will be intense — but (i’m no expert here) — I’m hoping this burns itself out after that. That said 2021 was our most deadly year of the pandemic — over 460,000 deaths (compared to 350,000 in 2020). Total US lives lost due to COVID are over 800,000. On official stats — that’s the most in the world — but I suspect that some other countries have less reliable statistics.
Here are some key charts:
Firstly the average daily trend — with month end values plotted. This clearly shows we are at the begining of an exponential curve. Thankfully the fatality rare is not as high as the prior peak — but an average of 4.8 daily fatalities per million of population per day is significant. [Isolated data point here: Tennessee covid hospital capacity is around 10% today]
Viewing the same data monthly — we clearly see December 2021 is the 3rd highest month for cases of all time — 4.5 million cases recorded; 37,000 deaths:
The chart also shows the initial success of vaccine rollout (through June 2021) — and then the upswing in the more virulent Delta variant. December of course marks the begining of the Omicron wave.
Lets review NY as one example. Here the unprecedented impact of the Omicron wave is very evident. NY did better in 2021 than in 2020. It recorded 21,000 deaths this year — compared to 37,000 in the prior year.
Average daily statistics:
Fatalities in December of 1,944 are significantly up on the prior month of 1,054 — that up over 80%.
Vermont — the best state in the US:
Vermont is the best state so far for per capita fatalities — just 750 per million — but has a sharply rising case and fatality curve. Also note the entire population of Vermont is just 630,000 people.
Mississippi — highest per capita fatalities
The state with the highest overall number of fatalities per capita is Mississippi with 3,500 fatalities per million. Here’s how that state was impacted by COVID. Just over 10,000 fatalities on a population of 3 million.
Average daily cases are starting to increase significantly due to Omicron. See right hand side of the below chart.
California deserves a lot of credit. Its the most populated state in the country with over 39 million people. Total per capita fatalities are 1,940 per million — which is 50% less than NY, NJ, Arizona etc per capita. This is how it handled the COVID cases:
Texas is the second most populus state — with over 29 million residents. Its total fatalities per capita are 2,687 — or basically 39% higher than CA. Basically Texas got hit much more severely with the Delta wave. September 2021 came very close to the record number of deaths in January 2021.
Here are a few league tables for all the States + DC:
All fatalities — per capita since inception:
Current new case rates per capita
Over 580 counties in America have elevated covid case rates (defined as over 200 cases per million per day) — and of these 224 have an average of more than 3 fatalities per million per day. Here’s a look at some of the highest with large populations:
You’ll notice that Michigan features prominently on the list. Here’s how that data plays out across the state. You can see that December was the highest month on record for COVID fatalities. This resulted in 2021 recording more deaths than in 2020 (15,000 versus 13,000).
As noted in the intro, 2022 will get off to a very rough start — but I am hopeful that this wave will be the final one. It feels like the final wildfire on already partially scorched earth. So much as I hope the news was better today — I feel optimistic that from Q2 onwards we start to see the final return to normalcy.