U.S. COVID-19 deaths reached 600,000 this Tuesday, making the United States the world leader in COVID-19 mortality. Its been a little over a year since the first COVID-19 death was reported in the US, and the virus has since claimed over half a million lives across the country.
Before the distribution of the vaccine, deaths from the coronavirus in America were averaging as high as 100,000 per month. Now that many adults have received the vaccine, the death rate has plummeted dramatically from around 3,000 deaths per day to just 375 nationwide.
The U.S. death toll is slightly ahead of those in Brazil, Mexico, and India.
How the COVID-19 vaccine changed the course of the pandemic
Although this striking number of 600,000 was reached just today, it does not represent a progressive worsening of the pandemic. While it only took a month for the U.S. to reach half a million deaths after it reached 400,000, it has taken roughly four months from that point to reach the 600,000 mark. This is widely credited to the COVID-19 vaccine becoming available in that timeframe.
The Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are the three coronavirus shots currently approved in the US.
Pfizer has disclosed that so far, its studies have shown that its shot is extraordinarily effective against the mutations that continue to circulate amongst the population, and are responsible for the a good portion of the most recent deaths.
The studies, which come out of the use of the vaccine after the spectacular successful rollouts in Qatar and Israel, suggest that the shot can indeed prevent the worst outcomes — including death — caused by B.1.1.7, the so-called British variant, as well as the South African variant, B.1.351.
Dr. Annelies Wilder-Smith, an infectious disease researcher at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine states to the New York Times “This is really good news. At this point in time, we can confidently say that we can use this vaccine, even in the presence of circulating variants of concern.”
It had been the working supposition that the vaccines did indeed fight the variants nearly as well as the original coronavirus strain, but that had yet to be scientifically proven.
According to the new studies, which were published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the promising conclusions were drawn from the clinical histories of more than 200,000 people who had received the inoculation in Qatar between February 1 and March 31.
Researchers found that the vaccine was between 87 to 89.5 percent effective at preventing infection with the British variant among those who were fully vaccinated.
In even more promising news, they found that it was nearly as effective with the more stubborn South African variant, preventing infection by as much as 72.1 to 75 percent in those who were fully vaccinated.
The vaccine was considered “highly effective” at protecting against not just death but severe pneumonia as well.
The extraordinarily positive findings showed that it was 97.4 percent effective at preventing severe, critical or fatal disease after the contraction of any form of the coronavirus. It was 100 percent effective at preventing severe, critical or fatal disease caused by either the British or the South African variant.
The British medical journal the Lancet published the results of the second study, which was conducted by Pfizer alongside researchers at Israel’s Ministry of Health. That study was based on more than 230,000 instances of coronavirus infection occurring in Israel between Jan. 24 and April 3 of this year.
At that time, the British variant was responsible for almost 95 percent of all coronavirus cases in the country, which by now has vaccinated more than half of its population.
The vaccine was more than 95 percent effective in protecting users against infection, hospitalization and death among all those who had been fully vaccinated. For those subjects who were 85 or older, the vaccine proved to be more than 94 percent effective at preventing infection, hospitalization and death.