Covid-19 Is Killing Younger Adults, and No One’s Noticed
Between August and December of 2021, 75,000 Americans aged 40–64 died of Covid-19. The vast majority were unvaccinated.
Robert LaMay died last week. You probably don’t recognize his name. But you might remember what he did a few months ago. LaMay was the Washington state trooper who quit his job rather than get vaccinated, and who became a kind of cult hero to anti-vaxxers and the anti-mandate movement when he filmed himself on his last shift, telling Washington’s governor Jay Inslee, “Kiss my ass.” And now he’s dead — of Covid-19, you will not be surprised to hear.
LaMay’s death has provoked the predictable flood of Schadenfreude-filled tweets and jokes about Darwinism in action that you see any time a prominent anti-vaxxer dies. (Which, to be fair, does seem to happen surprisingly often.) But I think LaMay’s death is worth paying attention to for a different reason, namely that he was just 51 years old. And in that his death is emblematic of an important, but little-noted shift in the pandemic that’s happened since the summer. The stereotype of Covid-19 is that it has killed almost exclusively old people. But over the past seven months, the distribution of deaths has moved lower, so that in the second half of 2021 the disease killed many more people under the age of 65 than it did over the same period in 2020.
Even more strikingly, between August and December 2021 (the numbers for this January are still being filled in), Covid-19 accounted for a much higher percentage of total deaths in people aged 40–64 than of total deaths in senior citizens. Over that period, Covid-19 was responsible for 12–15% of all senior deaths. But it was responsible for a remarkable 20–30% of deaths in the 40–64 group.
In September 2021, for instance, one-third of all deaths in people aged 40–49 were due to Covid-19, and 30% of all deaths in people aged 50–64 were due to the disease. In people 65 or older, by contrast, it accounted for just 12% of deaths.
Now, to be clear, even with this shift, seniors still account for most of the death toll, since the elderly account for most deaths from just about any disease. But the change in who Covid-19 is killing has been…