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U.S. COVID Deaths Remain Steady Despite New Variant

COVID virus visualization.Fushion Medical Animation / Unsplash

More than two years into the pandemic, scientists and public health officials alike expressed alarm when yet another new variant began to emerge this summer. The variant, BA.5, quickly became the most dominant strain and comprised more than 50% of new cases by early July, according to Yale Medicine. Vaccine producers began working on boosters to address the new variant, and healthcare professionals braced for the worst.

As of yet, though, the worst has not been realized. While totals for new cases appear slightly higher than they were a few months ago, the totals for new COVID-related deaths appear relatively steady. The New York Times reports daily death totals in the 400s, which represents a modest increase over the numbers reported in June but is actually 30-33% lower than the figures reported throughout most of May.

COVID data has become increasingly unreliable as states report their totals less frequently and large portions of the population begin to self-test themselves at home. Self-test results are far less likely to be reported and, as a result, most health officials warn that the actual number of cases in the United States is much higher than the figures we have available. A look at the figures from The New York Times shows 7-day averages for new cases above 100,000, but only 10,000 - 20,000 are reported on weekends and certain days have consistent spikes in reporting.

The same is not true about COVID death figures, which are generally reported from hospitals and other public data sources. Given the more reliable reporting on this set of data, it would appear the fallout from the new BA.5 variant is not as severe as many originally feared. That's welcome news for the country's healthcare system, which appears to be severely buckling under the strain of the pandemic.

Still, some areas, such as New York City, have seen surges in hospitalizations recently that continue to deny healthcare workers a reprieve. Oftentimes the patients are admitted for other causes and the virus is discovered while treating the underlying problem, which can lead some to mistakenly confuse COVID as the cause of the hospitalization when other factors were the true concern.

Viruses undergo mutations as a rule, rather than an exception, and COVID has proved no different. BA.5 is not the first variant to circulate since the start of the pandemic, and odds are that it will not be the last. Vaccines remain the most effective preventative measure available, particularly for guarding against severe infection, hospitalization, and death.

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Financial field by trade. I sort through all the public records so that you don't have to. Keeping up to date on events both local and national in scale.

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