A new data analysis out Tuesday demonstrates that Covid-19 is now killing people at a significantly higher rate in the United States than in other rich countries, a grim reality that analysts have attributed to the nation’s lagging vaccination campaign and — more broadly — its fragmented for-profit healthcare system.
Citing figures from Johns Hopkins University and the World Bank as well as the U.S. government New York Times reports that the country’s deaths during the ongoing Omicron wave “have now surpassed the worst days of the autumn surge of the Delta variant, and are more than two-thirds as high as the record tolls of last winter, when vaccines were largely unavailable.”
“Despite having one of the world’s most powerful arsenals of vaccines, the country has failed to vaccinate as many people as other large, wealthy nations. Crucially, vaccination rates in older people also lag behind certain European nations,” the Times noted. “The United States has fallen even further behind in administering booster shots, leaving large numbers of vulnerable people with fading protection as Omicron sweeps across the country.”
The role of rampant right-wing disinformation Experts and commentators point to structural barriers, such as poverty or lack thereof, in vaccine hesitancy among many Americans. paid sick leave, and huge levels of uninsurance as key contributors to the U.S. pandemic response. This is also what drives up the coronavirus death rate. Research by the Kaiser Family Foundation shown Unvaccinated Americans are more likely than vaccinated adults to be uninsured.
“Many more Americans would be vaccinated if our healthcare system wasn’t so terrifying,” healthcare journalist Natalie Shure argued in a column For The New Republic Last year. “Though Congress passed legislation mandating that Covid-19 vaccines be free at the point of use for all U.S. residents, around one-third of unvaccinated people cited Fear of cost as a significant reason they’ve yet to get the jab.”
“As it happens,” Shure noted, “patients across the country have been slapped with coronavirus-related medical bills throughout the pandemic, sometimes getting hit with steep charges for testing and treatment in spite of Congress’ mandates… Even if such events are rare, the startlingly widespread concern about it poses an undeniable threat to public health — and is just the latest illustration of the havoc wrought by a healthcare system that millions of people are too terrified to use.”
According to a study Gallup and West Health released data in December that showed that 30% of U.S. adults had not received treatment for a medical problem in the three prior months and that almost 60% felt the pandemic increased their concern about healthcare costs.
“One in every 20 U.S. adults — an estimated 12.7 million people — report knowing a friend or family member who died this past year after not receiving treatment because they could not afford it,” the study found.
While the Times analysis doesn’t emphasize the potentially massive impact the for-profit U.S. healthcare system has had on the country’s vaccination effort and coronavirus death rate, the newspaper does point to economic factors, highlighting survey data which indicates that “the poorest Americans are the likeliest to remain unvaccinated, putting them at greater risk of dying from Covid.”
“You know what every country on this graph except for the USA has?” asked Eric Reinhart, political anthropologist and doctor, in response to the Times analysis. “Universal healthcare guaranteed to every resident.”
“Almost seems like that might matter for public health and the trust in medicine, science, and government upon which public health depends,” Reinhart added.
Daniel Farber, a professor in the University of California Berkeley School of Law added You can find the Times‘ data compilation spotlights “the dark side of American exceptionalism.”
On average, the coronavirus is killing an estimated 2,600 people every day in the U.S., a staggering figure that experts fear is becoming “normalized” among the country’s political establishment and population.
“If we want to declare the end of the pandemic right now, what we’re doing is normalizing a very high rate of death,” Anne Sosin, a health equity researcher at Dartmouth College, told the Times.
This is unimaginable: “Since December 1, when health officials announced Omicron cases in the United States,” the American share of Omicron-infected Americans has been at least 63% higher than any other large, wealthy countries. https://t.co/f2L8B4hH3t
— Dr Kathleen Bachynski (@bachyns) February 2, 2022
Progressives have argued throughout the pandemic that the privatized U.S. healthcare system — with its sky-high costs and countless barriers to treatment — left the country dangerously unprepared to combat the threat of Covid-19.
Public Citizen, a consumer advocacy group estimated In a March report, hundreds of thousands of coronavirus-related deaths could have been prevented if the United States had a single payer. Medicare for All system.
“Under Medicare for All, everyone would have consistent coverage regardless of their employment status or employer,” the report argued. “And because Americans would have their choice of providers, instead of facing the narrow networks their employers choose for them, they would face fewer challenges getting care, especially during a pandemic where some hospitals and providers are overwhelmed by demand.”