Bill Gates’s Optimism on Covid Mortality Confronts Daunting Data
(Bloomberg) -- Bill Gates said Thursday that Covid-19 deaths may dip below seasonal influenza levels by mid-2022. If he’s right, it will be a remarkable turnaround.
The U.S. is still seeing a seven-day average of about 1,028 Covid-19 deaths -- an annualized pace of 375,220, or some 10 times the pace of flu deaths in a relatively bad year. In the near-term, infection patterns suggest Covid mortality may get somewhat worse, not better.
Earlier this year, the U.S. vaccination campaign briefly helped bring total mortality from all causes back near “normal” levels from about April through mid-July. But the Delta variant has -- at least temporarily -- undone the improvement, with the summer of 2021 producing even more excess mortality than the same period a year earlier.
Gates, the billionaire founder of Microsoft Corp., predicted that mounting natural and vaccine-induced immunity worldwide and emerging oral treatments will dramatically change both Covid-19 death and infection rates by mid-2022. He spoke at the Bloomberg New Economy Forum in Singapore.
Covid-19 caused about 375,000 deaths in the U.S. in 2020, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for a rate of about 92 per 100,000. It was the third leading underlying cause of death, after heart disease and cancer, and largely responsible for the increase in total deaths in 2020. In 2019, flu was the ninth leading cause of death, accounting for 39,783 deaths, or 1.7% of the total, for a death rate of 15.2 per 100,000.
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