While the sharp rise in Delta-variant COVID cases has sparked a renewed push for mask mandates, lockdowns, and vaccine “passports,” there’s been little attention paid to just how dangerous this variant is. Perhaps that’s because the evidence suggests it is far less of a public health concern than previous outbreaks.
Just how much less of a threat isn’t precisely known. But there are ways to gauge the risk. One is to look at the number of COVID cases and the number of deaths happening right now, compared with what happened a year ago.
What do you find? First of all, there are fewer cases than last year. From June to August this year, there have been more than 2 million recorded COVID cases in the U.S.
Over the same days last year, the total number of COVID cases was above 3.1 million.
How about deaths? From June 1 through Aug. 9, the total number of COVID fatalities was 20,149. Last year, the death count was 62,287.
In other words, cases are 41% lower than during this time last year, and deaths are 66% lower.
Looked at another way, the “case fatality rate” was 1% from June 1 through Aug. 9 this year. It was 2% over the same days last year.
Looking at a longer time frame, the case fatality rate all this year is 1.5%. And the case fatality rate for all of last year was 1.8%.
In other words, the fatality rate from COVID appears to be steadily declining.
The lower lethality of the Delta variant makes sense.
Like any other infectious disease, COVID picked off the low-hanging fruit first – the very sick and elderly. So the case fatality rate plunged after its initial spike in early 2020 – when it was around 6%.
Doctors and hospitals also learned about better ways to treat the disease, no doubt saving lives.