On Saturday, the Professional Golfers’ Association of America Tour confirmed that 11-time PGA Tour winner, Andy Bean, died at the age of 70 while recovering from a double-lung transplant he underwent six weeks ago after his lungs were badly damaged by a bout with Covid-19.
Though Covid-19 doesn’t have nearly the same impact in terms of causing fatalities as it did even as recently as last year it’s still a public health concern. This especially applies to vulnerable sub-populations such as the elderly, immunocompromised and those with multiple co-morbidities. Across the U.S., an average of 155 people die of Covid-19-related causes every day.
Among celebrities who’ve succumbed to Covid-19 this year, the American singer, songwriter and guitarist, David Crosby, died. He was 81.
Around the same time as Crosby, actor Ben Masters also passed away as a result of complications from Covid-19. He was 75.
In the U.S., nearly 90% of people who have died from Covid-19 thus far in 2023 were over 65. Furthermore, this age group comprised 61% of intensive care unit admissions.
A study published last week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that the over 65 age group accounted for 63% of all Covid-19-related hospitalizations recorded from January to August of this year. The vast majority of these patients had two or more underlying health conditions. In addition, merely 24% of those hospitalized were fully up to date on their coronavirus vaccinations, including boosters.
According to an August 2022 CDC study which examined a comprehensive nationwide dataset extending back to around the time of the initial rollout of the vaccines, the chance of dying from Covid-19 among unvaccinated adults compared with adults who received a primary series of vaccinations was nine times higher for adults aged 65–79 years and four times higher for the those ≥80.
Very recent data compiled in the state of Washington indicates that from August 30 to September 26, 2023, unvaccinated individuals were between 1.9 and 6.8 times more likely to be hospitalized with Covid-19 compared to those who received a primary series as well as at least one booster dose.
A relatively low vaccination uptake, particularly among vulnerable sub-groups, has contributed to the U.S. having worse Covid-19 outcomes than its peers. Specifically, among people most at risk of severe disease—the over-65 age group, immunocompromised and those with other comorbid diseases—the U.S. trails other wealthy nations in Covid-19 vaccination rates.
This speaks to the continued need for those who are susceptible to severe disease to get vaccinated or boosted.
And of course fatalities do not tell the full story of the impact of Covid-19 on morbidity. Long Covid has affected millions of patients, and it’s certainly not just those most prone to severe disease. According to a CDC report released last month, 8.9% of adults ages 35–49 have had long Covid, while in the 50–64 age group the percentage is 7.6%. Interestingly, adults ages 65 and older were the least likely to ever have experienced long Covid.
In brief, while Covid-19 deaths have declined over time as population-wide immunity increased, all the same there continue to be sub-populations who are predisposed to severe disease.