VaccinesVaccination Could Have Prevented at Least 90,000 U.S. Deaths Since June: Kaiser Report

Published 13 October 2021

A new analysis from the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) found that at least 90,000 COVID-19 deaths of unvaccinated adults since June could have been prevented with vaccines. Most of the preventable deaths — about 49,000 — occurred in September as the highly transmissible delta variant sparked a surge in cases.

A new analysis from the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) found that at least 90,000 COVID-19 deaths of unvaccinated adults since June could have been prevented with vaccines. Most of the preventable deaths — about 49,000 — occurred in September as the highly transmissible delta variant sparked a surge in cases.

Here is the analysis, written by Jared Ortaliza, Kendal Orgera, Krutika Amin, and Cynthia Cox:

COVID-19 was the third leading cause of death across most of 2020, but in December 2020 and early 2021, the illness surged and briefly became the number one leading cause of death in the U.S., far surpassing even cancer and heart disease deaths in those months.

With the rapid uptake in vaccinations in the months when vaccines first became widely available, COVID-19 deaths fell sharply. COVID-19 dropped to the number 7 leading cause of death in the U.S. in July 2021.

However, with the more infectious COVID-19 Delta variant, insufficient vaccination rates, and local and state governments easing up social distancing restrictions, COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths increased again. Vaccination rates are particularly lagging for younger adults and people living in certain states. As of October 7, 2021, about 78% of adults (ages 18+) in the U.S. have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose and over 50 million adults remain unvaccinated.

This brief revisits where deaths from COVID-19 rank among leading causes of death in the U.S. We find that COVID-19 was the second leading cause of death in September 2021. We also find in September COVID-19 was the number 1 cause of death for people age 35-54 and among the top 7 leading causes of death for people in other age groups.

We also estimate how many COVID-19 deaths were among unvaccinated adults and could have been prevented since June 2021 when safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines became widely available to all adults in the U.S. From June through September 2021, approximately 90,000 COVID-19 deaths among adults likely would have been prevented with vaccination.

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