For the first time, more than half of all Americans who died after contracting COVID-19 were vaccinated at least once, according to data on COVID-19 deaths in August analyzed by The Washington Post.
The newspaper cited an analysis of data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducted by Cynthia Cox, vice president of the Kaiser Health Foundation.
Calling it a "continuation of a troubling trend" over the past year as vaccination rates increased and new variants emerged, the Post's McKenzie Beard pointed to previous analysis that found an apparent correlation between rising vaccination rates and deaths of vaccinated people.
While the vaccinated made up just under a quarter (23%) of all coronavirus-linked deaths in September 2021, that number soared to 42% in January and February of this year.
"We can no longer say this is a pandemic of the unvaccinated," said Cox, who conducted the analysis for the Post's health section, The Health 202.
Cox's quote referred to a statement by CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky in July 2021 declaring COVID-19 a "pandemic of the unvaccinated." That sentiment was echoed a few months later by President Joe Biden.
Beard warned that data from the CDC "underscores the protection that additional booster shots offer against severe illness and death as immunity wanes," pointing to deaths from August, after the rise of the BA.5 omicron subvariant in July.
That's when, according to the CDC, those who did not get vaccinated over the age of 5 faced a much higher risk of dying "from a coronavirus infection."
"It's still true that vaccinated groups are at a lower risk of dying from a [COVID-19] infection than the unvaccinated when the data is adjusted for age," she wrote.
The analysis also found those 50 and older who were unvaccinated were as much as 12 times more likely to die from the virus than adults who received two or more boosters.
When sorted by vaccination status and age group, the data indicated that even at the peak in August, the death rate among the vaccinated without the updated booster was slightly lower than the unvaccinated in the 18-29 age range (.02 compared with .05). Meanwhile, deaths for all groups up to the age of 17 were not shown "due to low numbers," the CDC said on its website.
According to the Post's analysis, the age demographic most at risk of dying with a COVID-19 infection was also more likely to have taken the vaccine, such as the elderly.
The analysis comes just one day after Dr. Anthony Fauci stepped down as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). Fauci used his final White House press briefing to call on all Americans to get the latest booster shot "for your own safety."
"The final message I give you from this podium is that please, for your own safety, for that of your family, get your updated COVID-19 shot as soon as you're eligible," he said.
Fauci, who was at one point the highest-paid employee in the federal government, was a key figure in touting the accelerated rollout of the coronavirus vaccine and urged all Americans, even those who were hesitant due to safety and other concerns, to get vaccinated.
During a virtual event in November 2020, Fauci addressed concerns with members of a Presbyterian church in Massachusetts and defended the vaccine development process as "independent of the federal government and independent of people who might have a vested interest, like the pharmaceutical company."
"The determination as to whether or not it is safe and effective is made by an independent body, what's called a data and safety monitoring board, which monitor the trial," he told the audience.
"When you reach a point when there's information to indicate that it is truly safe and effective, they are the only ones that initially have access to that. So the company or the government can't try and manipulate it to its own advantage."
Fauci also addressed concerns some have that the vaccinesdeveloped by entities like Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech were too quickly created to be truly effective.
"The speed with which it's been done does not compromise safety nor does it compromise scientific integrity. It is the exquisite nature of the breathtaking scientific advances that have occurred over the last decade or so that have allowed us to do things in weeks to months that formerly took years," he said.
"And note that we're not even allowed to apply for use of it until 60 days passed the time that half the people got their last dose. So we know that safety is paramount."
Fauci implored groups disproportionately affected by the pandemic, such as minority communities and the elderly, to get a vaccine when it becomes available to create "a blanket of protection over the entire community."
Ian M. Giatti is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.