Life Insurer: Deaths Among Working Age Americans Up 40% Under Covid

On the one hand, we may have a tiny bit of cheery Covid news, in that Omicron indeed may produce a lower level of hospitalizations. The notion that it doesn’t typically settle in the lower lungs and produce viral pneumonia appears to be borne out. GM provided a technical explanation for those who like that sort of thing:

I don’t think I explained that before but it looks like Omicron has very poor S1/S2 cleavage, even though the FCS [furin cleavage site], if you just look at the mutations, was expected to be actually enhanced. But it seems that the conformation overall shifted and the loop that was exposed to the proteases before is now closed most of the time. So it does not get cleaved. What that means is that it now no longer relies on the TMPRSS2 protease, but just on ACE2. Nobody expected such a shift to happen — it always looked like the ACE2+TMPRSS2 pathway is much more efficient, but here we are.

That will require a bit of explaining too, but this cartoon illustrates it well:

Basically there are two pathways — the endosomal, which requires endocytosis of the whole virus particle, and does not rely on S1/S2 cleavage, but just on ACE2, and the direct fusion, which relies on ACE2+TMPRSS2.

But here is the interesting thing — the alveoli actually have little ACE2, only the AT2 pneumocytes express it, and even there it’s not all that high. What drives infection there is the fact that there is a little bit of ACE2 plus quite a lot of TMPRSS2. So it goes the fusion way. It then drives syncytia formation, which is very destructive.

But without the S1/S2 cleavage, it has to only rely on ACE2.

Which, again, is not superabundant in the alveoli, but there is a lot of it in the bronchi.

Thus the tropism shift and likely the milder respiratory symptoms — less infection in the lower lung, less cell-to-cell fusion. An important caveat is that we have no idea what happens elsewhere in the body, how much LongCOVID, etc….

But then there is the question about SARS-1. Because SARS-1 is also poor at S1/S2 cleavage, yet it is much more pathogenic than SARS-2. So what is the mechanism there? The likely explanation is that SARS-1 is much more powerful at shutting down IFN signalling, thus can replicate to higher levels inside the body before innate immunity kicks in. And that allows it to turn lungs into goo even though it does not have an FCS….

Something to watch.

GM also said in a separate take that this improved understanding of Omicron (early on he gave a wonky explanation of how no one sequences the viruses in full, and the ways in which the shortcuts have shortcomings) meant that the idea that Omicron and Delta couldn’t benefit from a cross mutation even if that were to happen now is not the case, there could be adaptive gain if that were to happen.

However, as GM pointed out in passing above, we still don’t know about Omicron and long Covid. Omicron is also hitting kids hard, and children under five are among the demonized unvaxxed, since Pfizer admitted its shots didn’t elicit an adequate antibody response among two to five year olds:

And on the other hand, even if Omicron might be less deadly, getting it does not confer lasting immunity. And the baseline for how many people died from Covid, particularly younger cohorts thought to be not generally vulnerable, has been revised upward. From the Center Square (hat tip Paul R):

The head of Indianapolis-based insurance company OneAmerica [with $100 billion in assets] said the death rate is up a stunning 40% from pre-pandemic levels among working-age people.

“We are seeing, right now, the highest death rates we have seen in the history of this business – not just at OneAmerica,” the company’s CEO Scott Davison said during an online news conference this week. “The data is consistent across every player in that business.”…

Davison said the increase in deaths represents “huge, huge numbers,” and that’s it’s not elderly people who are dying, but “primarily working-age people 18 to 64” who are the employees of companies that have group life insurance plans through OneAmerica.

“And what we saw just in third quarter, we’re seeing it continue into fourth quarter, is that death rates are up 40% over what they were pre-pandemic,” he said.

“Just to give you an idea of how bad that is, a three-sigma or a one-in-200-year catastrophe would be 10% increase over pre-pandemic,” he said. “So 40% is just unheard of.”….

Most of the claims for deaths being filed are not classified as COVID-19 deaths, Davison said.

“What the data is showing to us is that the deaths that are being reported as COVID deaths greatly understate the actual death losses among working-age people from the pandemic. It may not all be COVID on their death certificate, but deaths are up just huge, huge numbers.”

He said at the same time, the company is seeing an “uptick” in disability claims, saying at first it was short-term disability claims, and now the increase is in long-term disability claims.

Now you might say, but isn’t this out of line with excess death estimates? Yes, but an insurer is in much better position to have granular information about deaths, and Davison says his company’s experience is shared across the industry. Second, it’s often forgotten that some of the changes during Covid would have reduced deaths. For instance, in the first Covid wave, in early 2020, Alabama locked down in anticipation of an infection spike that turned out to be mild compared to the likes of New York and California. Alabama had negative excess deaths due to the reduction in driving and therefore road accidents.

And before you try to find a silver lining, this news is not likely to be positive for Social Security solvency. Even though the US is a sovereign currency issuer and we could pay for Social Security if we wanted to, the convention is that it operates as a trust. More people dying young means fewer people paying into the system. More people getting disabled young also means fewer paying into the system and some (most?) collecting Social Security disability. And an even sicker aged population means higher Medicare costs.

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  1. GM

    More people getting disabled young also means fewer paying into the system and some (most?) collecting Social Security disability.

    They will only collect disability if they get approved, for which LongCOVID has to be acknowledged as a disability. Which will be fought tooth and nail.

    And even then it will have to be confirmed they had COVID.

    Which is one of the two major reasons at-home antigen tests are pushed so hard now — without official PCR confirmation those don’t get recorded anywhere.

    So short-term benefit — official case counts go down. Long-term benefit — people can’t prove they had COVID…

    1. LawnDart

      One of my greatest fears has been getting hurt on the job (I was, until late Fall, frequently tasked with troubleshooting and repairing heavy industrial equipment– it can be rather hazardous and is hard on the body). If you do suffer an injury that results in a disability, t’s a hell of a fight you’re in for if you try to claim SSD, often taking years and usually requiring the assistance of an attorney, and even if you win the benefits are paltry– people on SSD who don’t have additional family support are at extreme risk of homelessness. Life on SSD sucks, intentionally: you’re treated with suspicion, suspected of malingering, and, if fortunate, ruefully provided just enough chicken feed that would keep the ASPCA quiet (if you eat like a bird).

      F that.

      But many who try to claim SSD don’t really have any choice– they’re already at the bottom of life’s barrel, if not underneath it. I get that there are some addicts and hustlers trying to scam a buck from the system, but that’s chicken-s#!t over the numbers of people who really need help in this country, and the barriers to assistance in USA truly equates to collective punishment for crimes (real or imagined (i.e.; welfare queen) by a few.

      Years ago I suffered a minor injury that resulted in sciatica, which fortunately did not need to be corrected with back surgery, though I was out of work for a few months for physical rehab and healing. This past Fall, I was hit with several assignments that involved heavy, awkward lifting,– such as attempting to hold 150# pumps in place with one arm while trying to thread a bolt with the free hand– when I felt an echo of that old, familiar pain: a twinge in he lower back, an ache above the buttock below the hip, down to the sharp stabs in the knee. “F me,” I thought.

      Long story short, I was fired on my 4th day of calling off, although from the tone of the conversation it was clear that I was expected to beg for my job back and just man-up and work through the pain. So I’m taking some time off, and have the opportunity to self-quarantine for the next few months through this Omicron wave. The earliest I’d look at returning to the workforce is March, depending how things go, although I am also tempted to stay out a bit longer to hit the North Country Scenic Trail or do some canoeing in the Boundary Waters.

      I’m mid-career, and have a long ways to go before voluntary retirement. But like many of my cohort who have the means or who are able, I think I’ll just sit on the sidelines for a while, and then either do my own thing, work for myself, or take my time to find an employer who is reasonably fair and humane.

      1. anon y'mouse

        employers who are fair and humane? do those exist?

        and even when they do, they have clients and various others that they and their employees must interact with who aren’t.

        btw, your retelling of the difficulties of SSDI is spot on. from personal experience, regretfully.

      2. JCC

        @LawnDart – I was in the same position as you until my 47th year, back and (serious) shoulder problems muscling parts of Lathes and mills and all that go with it as a Field Service Engineer for a machine tool company. Luckily I also had a strong background in IT and some programming experience (M and G Code, along with formal courses in C, etc) and data comm experience and I was able to get away from that business altogether and into IT Sys Admin work.

        Not only did my physical health improve, but so did my mental health and salary… for what it is worth to you.

        1. LawnDart

          Thank you, JCC–

          In part, because of the previous experience, I took about 3-years of coursework in Industrial Automation and Controls– I was constantly tasked with hydraulics because it’s either “too dirty” or “too hard” for the techs that company was willing to pay for. I also design, build and program (and troubleshoot/reprogram/de-spaghetti) now, utilizing mostly AB RSlogix 500/5000 and AutomationDirect products, though sometimes others. I don’t mind twisting a wrench when it needs to be done, but I won’t let that be my full-time thing– I’m sticking with controls from this point out as it’s a marathon and not a sprint sort-of-thing.

  2. cnchal

    > And an even sicker aged population means higher Medicare costs.

    . . . and fewer able bodied exploitees to be abused by whip cracking sadists.

  3. Amfortas the hippie

    here at the Hermit Kingdom, we’re in the soup, again.
    Youngest, sophomore, had a 3 day basketball tournament last week.
    meaning 6 60 mile busrides with a bunch of kids and coaches who overwhelmingly are in the “it ain’t real” set…ie: not vaxed or masked or taking it all that seriously at all.
    so friday, he presents with what at first appears to be the normal severe allergies…been real dry and windy and cedar pollen is very high.
    but something felt different, and by saturday, my spidey senses made me insist on him and Eldest wearing masks indoors…and youngest(he still lives in this house with wife and i) staying in his room.
    by end of day saturday, 3 of the kids from the team tested positive, and they and 3 more had mild symptoms, but with high fever(103-4). None of them are vaxed, but 2 of the positives had delta(presumably) before xmas.(note: wed-sat incubation period…4 days)
    Youngest has had both pfizer shots…and wife and both sons all had mild covid almost a year ago to the day.
    he had a 99.5 fever, briefly, yesterday…and his throat is sore, but the sniffles and snot would in a normal year be pretty unremarkable.
    we’re erring on the side of caution, spraying lysol into his room and the hallway outside, masking etc…and i started him on the covid vitamin regimen on saturday.
    he’ll be doing his own laundry, too, dammit.
    i’ve also decreed that he ain’t going to school this week, and the school administration can just kiss my shiny white ass.
    to my knowledge, at home tests are not available around here…and it takes an act of god to get a pcr at the clinic, due to shortages

    concurrently, i shut the water off saturday evening, due to this 2.5 day cold snap(i hate being a plumber when it’s 40 degrees, so this is SOP when it stays below 25 for more than 10 hours)…had low of 16 yesterday, with windchill of 4 degrees, low of 19 right now, with thankfully no wind. should be warm enough to turn on water by 11am today.
    ergo, hand san galore…a big pump of it in his room, and the rest of us have our own as well.

    so now it’s watchful waiting to see if Eldest, wife or i develop symptoms.
    i reckon that if not by wednesday, we’re in the clear.
    according to the scanner, cases are way up in this county…all emt calls have been elderly and frail people, so i extrapolate that it’s widespread in the genpop, just either mild or asymptomatic….or just waved off as a cold or whatever(“it ain’t real” is the most common attitude hereabouts)
    i don’t know what protocols/triggers the school has in place as far as shutting down, if any…no masks or vaxx are required, and the school nurse is frustrated and almost frantic.
    we’ll see what they do if it takes off this week.
    too little , too late is the order of the day…due to cowardice and stupidity.

    1. Fiery Hunt

      It’s not just out their in the sticks, Amfortas. ..
      it’s every where.
      In the SF Bay Area, the numbers on vaccinations and masking are in the high 70% to 80% range with I’d say 90% masking; and we’re about to admit widespread infections.
      For the first time during the pandemic, I’ve had 4 people I know exposed (close contact) to positive cases, all over Christmas.

      It’s going to explode.

    2. The Rev Kev

      Sorry to hear about your troubles, Amfortas. If we get it, we reckon it will be through our adult kids because they are in public so often and work there. Helluva time to be alive, though our grandparents lived through similar a century ago.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        school nurse apparently went to san antonio over the weekend and obtained a bunch of rapid tests…so went and got Youngest one of those…negative.
        PCR manana at the clinic, just to be sure.
        and we’re all getting boosted on thursday.
        and, although town was rather dead for this trip, we were the only masks to be seen.
        nurse says it’s here and it’s fixin ta get innerestin.
        i don’t envy her her job…nor our one doctor’s(doubles as county health guy, too)

        1. Phil in KC

          Similar thing happened to me. On Tuesday the 28th, I felt a bit off, on the following day, full-blown symptoms: Cough, sore throat, slight fever, chills, aches, and fatigue. I called my doctor and she said come on over, and within 15 minutes I had a nasal swab. A day later the results came back negative. Thank God! I am only conventionally sick, with the flu (despite having had a flu shot). Who knew that being “regular sick” would become a thing?

          Yesterday I learned that Kansas is a hotspot for influenza.

          1. katiebird

            Where did you hear about KS being a flu hotspot? We live in Overland Park and haven’t heard/read that.

        2. Susan the other

          Don’t put much faith in a “negative” result. I caught something in late November – bad head cold – and got a negative result. Not really worth the spit in the tube. So, as always, I’m self medicating with lotsa vitamins, elderberry juice, and I use tea tree oil on a q-tip and run it around my nostrils and edge of my throat. It helps. But don’t use tea tree if you are sensitive to it – gives some people blisters. I can almost drink the stuff. Most important, as always, is water and sleep. So turn yer water back on. I didn’t realize Texas ever got that cold.

        3. SomeGuyinAZ

          Just curious, on the rapid test did you swap his throat as well as nasal passages? Been seeing on Dr Ding and other twitter feeds that people are getting negatives for multiple days on just nasal swabs, but when they include the throat swab it comes back with the positive. Not sure how accurate that is though so just a thought.

          1. Amfortas the hippie

            school nurse came out in the parking lot and did it…with obviously well practiced quickness…and it was in the little envelope/reactor before i could say anything.
            she did offer up the potential for false negatives…so we’re getting him a pcr at the clinic in the morning.

    3. ambrit

      My money is on Stupid and Evil in a fell combination.
      The “Official” reactions to this Pandemic are firmly in “Jackpot Inducing” territory. It doesn’t have to be a pre-planned situation. Simple opportunistic exploitation of a ‘wild’ event will accomplish the task. This might also be the reason that the ‘Lab Leak Hypothesis’ is being demonized so strenuously. Even the suspicion that this Pandemic was “engineered” will be a revolution fostering meme.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        yeah…my Prophet Beard has been telling me LIHOP from the beginning.
        in a just world, it would backfire mightily on Them, and mutate to preferentially infect those who consume caviar, or something.

        i’m fortunate, of course…this is the first time i’ve been off the farm this year,lol.

        1. Mantid

          Yes, stay well and get them kids well. Hope you get that “official” test as I’m sure insurance will drag their hair covered feet insisting it wasn’t Covid causing what can become long (the FM version) of Covid. Long bus rides in cold weather – not many open windows, ouch!

  4. Mikel

    “Now you might say, but isn’t this out of line with excess death estimates? Yes, but an insurer is in much better position to have granular information about deaths, and Davison says his company’s experience is shared across the industry. Second, it’s often forgotten that some of the changes during Covid would have reduced deaths….”

    I noticed this part of what Davison said:
    “And what we saw just in third quarter, we’re seeing it continue into fourth quarter, is that death rates are up 40% over what they were pre-pandemic,” he said.

    He’s talking about working age people 18-64 and says it’s not all Covid. Then the disability claim increase is not reported as Covid related. I wouldn’t be so sure death and disability due to Covid are being under reported either.

    Again, look at the quarters in 2021 he’s talking about.

    As for Omicron, everyone should know that everything is run and measured by banker mentality. There haven’t even been two quarterly report periods since “Omicron” was named. Another sign of how early it is for many of the proclamations being made about the variant in the mainstream press.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Did you not read the entire post? He clearly and explicitly attributed the increase to Covid. This is about as cut and dried as you get from an executive disputing government statistics:

      What the data is showing to us is that the deaths that are being reported as COVID deaths greatly understate the actual death losses among working-age people from the pandemic. It may not all be COVID on their death certificate, but deaths are up just huge, huge numbers.

      1. Dave in Austin

        I beg to differ with Yves a bit. The insurance company official said:

        “Most of the claims for deaths being filed are not classified as COVID-19 deaths, Davison said.

        “What the data is showing to us is that the deaths that are being reported as COVID deaths greatly understate the actual death losses among working-age people from the pandemic. It may not all be COVID on their death certificate, but deaths are up just huge, huge numbers.”

        That seems to say that the deaths may be due to a combination of factors- direct Covid reported deaths; Covid deaths which may not be coded as Covid deaths; and deaths related to the stress of not working, being at home, getting less activity and gaining weight from eating more. And don’t forget the reduced ability to see doctors and get prescriptions filled for other ailments. All these are routinely experienced by working-age people forced to stay home because of loss-of-work or child-care issues.

        I think it is really important that we keep an open mind on what this interesting report reveals. We see excess deaths during a pandemic with a number of possible contributing factors which I’m sure the insurance industry is looking at very carefully.

        Remember, bad weather, recessions and regional calamuties are also associated with excess deaths. So we shouldn’t be surprised that Covid and the pandemic’s indirect ramifications are both contributing to this extraordinary increase in death rates.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Not even remotely to the degree of the increase seen. The insurance execs have seen all those other causes of what would otherwise premature deaths. Their business depends on modeling for them so they can price properly. So the insurance exec explicitly attributing the deaths to Covid stands.

        2. flora

          Also, just to put the point in, there’s no mention of adverse jb effects in the report, which effects might be pertinent. 3rd-4th quarter this year follows the big jb rollout and work mandates. Report also notes an uptick in both short-term and long-term disability claims. It’s one variable worth adding to the list of questions about what might be adding to this increase, (there may be multiple causes), imo. Will anyone in public health take this question seriously, with all its variables?

        3. Ahimsa

          I confess to agreeing with Dave’s take: there is a pandemic associated increase in excess deaths, not all attributed to Covid. Whether it is attributable to Covid (or indirectly to public health measures, or indeed to vaccinations) is for me an open question.

          Note, all cause mortality figures in Germany and UK are also up in excess of Covid deaths, i.e. minus Covid deaths, UK and Germany are both consistently reporting weekly excess deaths since mid to late summer respectively.

          Here is the link to the ofifical German data with interactive plot:

          It certainly seems unusual that reported deaths are in excess of the 2017-2020 maximum range EVERY week since week 36.
          Example: Week 45 Deaths
          2017-2020 Median = 17,732
          2017-2020 Max = 19,007
          2021 = 20,784 (ie. 1,777 in excess of maximum Week 45 figure 2017-2021)
          Covid Deaths = 1,434

          It could be deaths of despair, deaths due to unhealthy weight increase/decreased exercise, stress-related, under-reported Covid deaths, unrecognised Long-Covid deaths, aftermath of undetected Covid, or unrecognised adverse effects of vaccination. Who knows, but we need more data/details.

          Here is a link to official data for England & Wales in UK:

          In this instance, all cause deaths minus Covid deaths still exceed the weekly average for 2016-2020. Again that is consistently EVERY week since week 27. What is driving these numbers?

          1. Ahimsa

            Someone on Twitter has alerted me to the fact that there are apparently surges in excess deaths in Vermont and Connecticut at the moment which are only partially attributed to Covid. I have no idea if this is due to some sort of reporting lag.

            Here is the link to the official CDC excess deaths data (you can select by state):
            Here is the link to Vermont Corona data (you can select New Deaths per Day)

          2. flora

            Seems like public health would want some autopsies to check for any similar causes with this kind of increased death rate, particularly among young prior fit people who die. My 2 cents.

            1. Yves Smith Post author

              Pray tell, how would you conclude someone died of Covid absent when 1. They had been diagnosed with Covid not long before their death and 2. The immediate cause of death was a recognized consequence of Covid, meaning viral pneumonia?

              If someone dies of a heart attack, stroke, fall due to being debilitated somehow by Covid, it will be treated as the immediate cause = the cause of death, not what is arguably the actual cause.

              And that’s before getting to varying state laws and the question of “who pays?”. The cost of autopsies falls on the city or county medical examiner’s office. I’ve not heard of a mechanism for state public officials to say to them, “Gee, autopsy people whose deaths meet the following 4 criteria, we’ll pay for that.”

              From the CDC:

              A medicolegal investigation is conducted by a coroner’s or medical examiner’s office to determine the circumstances under which someone died. Medicolegal investigations combine a scientific inquiry into a death under a coroner’s or medical examiner’s legal jurisdiction.

              At the request of the National Center for Health Statistics, CDC’s Public Health Law Program assessed coroner and medical examiner laws across the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Each state sets its own standards for what kinds of deaths require investigation and its own professional and continuing education requirements for individuals carrying out these investigations. These different standards can have a broad-reaching public health impact as variations in the collection and reporting of cause-of-death data could hinder public health officials’ ability to conduct accurate mortality surveillance.


              1. flora

                You miss my point. I’m not saying “died of covid.” I’m not saying covid is the common factor, if their is one. The insurance company is talking about their insured, working individuals between 18-65 that hold their policies.

                One question immediately rises in my mind: If there’s an unexplained, or odd/ unusal explanation (for example stroke isn’t commonly expected in young people) for the increase rise in deaths in the insured prior healthy, say 25-40 year olds, shouldn’t public health agencies want to know why that is. Might not autopsies of similar cohort prior health deaths of young people given this outsized rise in deaths be worthwhile? There’s a signal here of some sort. No one seems much interested in finding out what it is, imo, beyond assuming this or that without close examination.

                See for example the story out of Canada in today’s links about a cluster of neurological disease in the young – nothing to do with this virus or jb – that the CA province seems not to want to examine too closely. It’s very odd for dementia or alzh. disease to develope in young healthy people. Yet the provincial public health dept is resisting autopcies to examine closely what might be causing this.

                1. flora

                  Adding: I’d think state Public Health agencies would want to get to the bottom of this unexpected rise in deaths. But, alas, Public Health isn’t what it was in earlier years, before Reagan’s “govt is the problem” and “because Markets” swept through government agencies.

                  1. JBird4049

                    IIRC, autopsies have declining national for several decades because it costs money.

                    Also, it’s not surprising to me that deaths are up (although 40% is awfully large), but getting historical here, it’s when two or more of disease, bad weather, war, natural disasters, and famine hits at the same time that people really start dying. If you are sick, you are more likely to die from being malnourished or suffering from heat or cold. 1+1=3, not 2.

                    Stressed out nation, with such such things like overwhelmed food banks, threats of evictions, etc. and Covid, it would be surprising if there wasn’t an excess of dying.

              2. Amfortas the hippie

                i’ll remain agnostic on all this, but point to my recent anecdotal experience with medical examiners:
                stepdad was shot in the back in viet nam in 68.
                miraculously(really) lived a long and relatively happy and productive(small-p) life.
                …but with declining health and cascading problems towards the end.
                noncovid pneumonia, and collapsed lung sent him to va icu in may, where he bounced between “lets get rehabbed” to death’s door” til august, when he succumbed.
                private contracter hospital on the sunday he died had not maintained it’s ancient generators…so they didn’t kick in that day when the power went out. ICU was 85 degrees when i went up to say goodbye.
                so they felt pressure to be rid of the body, and ignored protocol in bexar county an sent him on to the crematory in kerr county.
                so we got a call from the coroner:”where the hell is the body?”
                they needed to do an autopsy, because cause of death was listed as “murder”…because ultimate cause was that GSW, 53 years ago in a rice paddy outside Da Nang.
                funeral home guy was buddy with coroner and sorted it…but his death is listed as a murder.
                everyone involved knew this was just silly….but the rules are the rules.

                had he died at home, where we have no medical examiner or coroner, cause of death would have been determined by the Justice of the Peace, who is currently a holy roller who doesn’t believe in modern medicine.
                autopsy would only have been performed if we had insisted and paid for it, and would have happened 2 counties over…and, in my understanding, his place of death would have been indeterminate: some schrodinger’s cat place between here and there.

                my county’s official # of covid deaths is well below the actual residents of the county who have died OF covid…because we don’t have a hospital, and they therefore died in an icu somewhere else.
                i can compare the official number with the actual, because we literally know everyone, here, and know their stories.

                point is, there’s a lot of esoterica and confusion in the reporting standards and in what triggers an autopsy….even between counties in the same state.

      2. Mikel

        “It may not all be COVID on their death certificate, but deaths are up just huge, huge numbers.”

        What is on the death certificates? I can’t imagine them paying out claims without knowing the cause of death. And at least what are the categories for the cause and what percentage of people fit in each?

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          No, life insurance companies care only if a death is not a suicide. In theory, they might care if there was an accident where they can sue a responsible party.

          But for anything other than suicide, even like a car crash, you’d need to establish that the other party was at fault. It would be too costly relative to the cost of the claim (unless a really huge policy) for the insurer to prove that, and they’d ALSO need to be sure the party they’d go after had deep enough pockets to recoup the cost of the death AND that that persons would not be able to hide assets in the meantime. So in practice they don’t (except MAYBE in cases where the person was criminally prosecuted, so the guilt has been established…but they’d then have to still sue in civil court, and you can bet the heirs/dependents would sue if there was any money there, so they’d be fighting over the same pot).

    1. Louis Fyne

      I think Omicron is guilty until proven innocent. I also think that are better sources of info than FeiglDing

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      This is ad hominem and a violation of our site Policies.

      Please tell me how he is monetizing his Twitter status. He hasn’t signed a book deal, launched a Substack newsletter, or from what I can tell, even gone on TV (which does not pay BTW, you are painting their car).

      And people who don’t like his style have been forced to be concede he is right way way more often than not.

      1. Ahimsa

        I stopped heeding Feigl-Ding when I learned he was publicly calling for school closures at the same time that he had relocated to Europe so his son could enjoy face-to-face in-school learning in Austria.

        1. Joe Well

          That sounds like the typical establishment whisper campaign.

          Psst…psst…did you hear Glenn Greenwald doesn’t even live in the United States? And that Julian Assange bleaches his hair?

          Anyway, I’m calling BS. There were plenty of opportunities in Massachusetts for in-person instruction in the 2020-2021 school year. Most schools offered in-person most days. And if you were really intent on in-person schooling, you could decamp to the much cheaper western part of the state where cases stayed low and schools stayed open.

          Not that it would affect whatever data he advances to make his case.

        2. Yves Smith Post author

          Sorry, that has absolutely nothing to do with whether his analysis was correct. Europe had a low level of infections at the time due to longer and less leaky lockdowns. Your comment in no way establishes that his recommendation re the US was wrong then; in fact the US teachers unions were calling for them, and INET later recommended either much better Covid mitigation at schools or lockdowns, based on how kids are Covid vectors.

  5. Roger Blakely

    As people come back to work after the holidays, they are not going to have understood that things have changed. We are living with the virus. No one is trying to protect you from the virus. It used to be that having someone at work with COVID was a big deal. The message from state governments and public health departments is this: SARS-CoV-2 is here; you are going to catch it; you will get COVID-19; and you will come back to work after five days (unless you’re boosted, which case you stay on the job).

    1. JCC

      The US DoD is not taking that position on protection at all.

      But then again, our reason for existence is not profit-at-any-cost driven (not directly, anyway)

      I received an email from our Base Commander just this morning stating that if you do not need to go into work, stay home. If you have covid and are quarantining, you must have a negative test after the new quarantine period of 5 days before returning.

      And the base has re-opened their testing facility, 8 hours per day.

      I am assuming this is US Navy-wide since this email came directly from the Base Commander.

      (The email started with the statement that covid has returned here)

  6. Patrick Donnelly

    So lockdowns and hysteria and vax abreactions are causing the increase? This does not seem to be the case in other countries. No reports of it yet.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Huh? It does not seem as if you have been paying attention.

      China has had regional lockdowns and I am told by people with good contacts there that are increasing due to Omicron.

      The UK imposed an increase in restrictions but most are voluntary but there has been a lot of agitation to increase them. Johnson had proposed doing so but suffered a backlash from his party.

      Germany imposed restrictions on the unvaxxed, basically all they allowed to do it go to work (and I assume then only if their employer lets them turn up) and do essential shopping (groceries and drugstores).

  7. VietnamVet

    Of any business, insurance is most dependent on getting the future right. Unless they have been promised fiat money to bail them out; fire and wind damage insurance will go through the roof to keep them profitable in a time of climate change. Flooding is already covered by federal government insurance.

    Intentionally ignoring public health, stopping off-patent treatments and no non-pharmaceutical interventions by a dysfunctional government will also cost insurers money. The 40% increase in Indiana’s workers death rate in the pandemic together with the tens of thousands of opioid deaths the last decade are indications how detached the ruling classes are from the workers who keep civilization going. “Profits over human life.”

    The insurer’s report is also a strong indication that the mRNA vaccines introduced a year ago are not that safe or effective and it also likely shows the increase in “to the hell with it” risky behavior. If there is a national Polar Vortex freeze, a new mutant wave in the Spring/Summer, if the mRNA jabs and booster safety are questioned, if everyone is ill or in quarantine, if supply disruptions and wildfires continue unabated, plus the 2022 mid-term “throw the bums out” unrest; it is almost certain that western civilization will peter out “not with a bang but a whimper”; unless, a “Wag the Dog” sequel plays out in Ukraine.

    1. Susan the other

      “Of any business, insurance is most dependent on getting the future right.” So when retirement insurance, aka “social security”, has insufficient workers to fund it, the reaction in our dear congress is to simply get rid of the SS fund altogether. That’s the peak of insanity. The very tippy-top. But because of the business model of the entire “country” (not sure what it really is anymore), if an enterprise can’t pay its own way it ceases to exist – except when it is an extraction enterprise driving society itself into nonexistence – so just get rid of Social Security, problem solved. That will take a few more years but at the rate of deterioration we are experiencing, and at an increasing rate, this “country” might cease to exist in pretty short order. And if Congress tries their usual distraction of going off to war (in Ukraine), I have the sick feeling that the Russians will incinerate us.

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      I doubt that even a “Wag the Dog” drama in the Ukraine will rescue a lot of the bums from being tossed out. Would you trust that the current bums could handle a new war any better than they have handled anything else? Besides I like to believe the Populace would not look kindly on yet another pointless, stupid, wasteful, unnecessary, and expensive war that would likely cost a lot of lives fighting an opponent with better leadership, equipment, and training than any enemy we have battled since World War II.

      I doubt the Russians would incinerate us, but they could give our MIC a terribly bloody nose. The trouble with nuclear weapons, even “tactical” nuclear weapons, is that they have a way of spreading their impacts over time and space, and could threaten nuclear Winter if things get even a little out-of-hand.

    3. shinola

      “…Flooding is already covered by federal government insurance.”

      Actually, access to flood coverage is provided by the fed. gov’t. They do charge a premium for it and the cost is quite high if the insured property is in a designated high risk flood zone. There is a high deductible and coverage is provided only for damage caused by actual general flooding – no other type of water damage is covered.

  8. Jason Boxman

    And on top of that, I’ve been concerned about life insurer solvency. Is a pandemic something that is planned for as part of reserves? If most insurers end up with solvency issues, what happens to reinsurancers? And interest rates haven’t been what they once were for an extended period of time already.

    1. allan

      Private equity to the rescue:

      Life Insurance Policies Are Being Sold to Private-Equity Firms [Henssler Financial]

      … Insurance companies, in turn, profit from premium payments and by investing those premiums, primarily in fixed-income securities like bonds. With our historically low interest rate environment since 2008, insurers have been feeling the pinch with under-performing assets.

      Most recently we’ve seen a trend in major insurers selling off blocks of life insurance and annuity contracts to private-equity firms, asset managers, hedge funds, and other investment institutions. According to the latest data from rating firm A.M. Best, more than two dozen investment firms own or control one-eighth of the U.S. insurers. Furthermore, A.M. Best reported that insurers owned or sponsored by these investment institutions hold substantially more private-placed debt—a source of funding not regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission—asset-backed securities. Instead, they are backed by income-generating assets such as credit card receivables, home equity loans, student loans, and auto loans, and more below-investment-grade debt than the traditional insurance industry. …

      Many policyholders are being notified of the change in their policy while being assured that the contract remains in insurance divisions that are regulated by state insurance departments; however, the reality is that some of the new owners have limited insurance expertise and perhaps a greater appetite for risk when it comes to investments. …

      But not to worry – Greenspan’s Axiom still applies:

      Capitalism is based on self-interest and self-esteem; it holds integrity and trustworthiness as cardinal virtues and makes them pay off in the marketplace, thus demanding that men survive by means of virtue, not vices. It is this superlatively moral system that the welfare statists propose to improve upon by means of preventative law, snooping bureaucrats, and the chronic goad of fear.“

      1. Phil in KC

        Was this the flaw in Alan Greenspan’s thinking, which he admitted in testimony before a select committee of Congress in October of 2008? In other words, the free market model doesn’t work when you factor in the functioning of human nature?

        1. Susan the other

          He found an “error in one of his models.” Nobody asked him if he fixed it. But apparently not. It must have been such an intrinsic error that the entire model was unfixable.

      2. Jason Boxman

        I was deeply saddened when I learned this happened to Ohio National: Sold off to a Canadian pension fund. It was a mutual life insurance company prior to that, I think one of the few left, that was ‘owned’ by its policyholders. Not anymore. Sigh.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      Congress will have to step in if it goes on too long. I imagine the first problem if the working age death rate is reflected in claims, insurers won’t take on policies of other insurers, putting the onus on states. Treasury will nave to buy state bonds. I’m sure someone is playing fast and loose, so I’m not sure a state can simply absorb a major insurer collapsing with the other insurers getting closer to their own red lines.

      Prior to this surge the deaths were in a population that let policies lapse.

    3. Mikerw0

      There is every reason to be concerned for the mortality insurance industry if people are not in aggregate dying on schedule.

      In answer to your question, not the industry does not reserve against pandemics. It isn’t allowed to. Reserves are set by actuaries based on complex analysis of mortality tables, policy lapse rates and other technical factors. Unlike property casualty insurance, where catastrophes (i.e., tail risk) is both the biggest concern and can be reinsured, the equivalent coverages don’t exist in life Insurance.

      So, what OneAmerica is saying is that in a highly competitive, low margin business that getting mortality right is really important and the pandemic may have invalidated their tables.

      There is also a knock-on effect to their investments. Life insurers match assets and liabilities (duration) and stay close to fully invested. If there is a material change to the payment of death benefits against what they expected the timing to be they may sell securities (bonds) at inconvenient times. That said, in the short to medium term they will cash flow underwrite (use premium income to pay claims vs. reserves), which is a temporary fix.

      1. Ekatarina Velika

        Risk manager at a (European) insurance company here.
        As you write above, insurers do not reserve for cat events. However, at least in the EU regulatory environment, cat risk capital charge is part of the overall solvency requirement. I admit I was under the impression that something similar is in place in the U.S., but I might be mistaken.
        Anyway, the cat capital charge in our case it is determined based on the relevant cat risk drivers for a specific line of business. Additionally, we are obliged to stress test the balance sheet regularly to test the overall solvency of the company. In general, we choose the stress tests that are most relevant to us, but since last year we also have to include the pandemic stress testing for all lines of business, not just life. At least this is a regulatory requirement in the EU. Again, I’m not sure about the U.S. I would add that such tests, when performed in good faith, would definitely show the pressure points on the asset or liability side, or both.
        So another possible conclusion is that OneAmerica has done precisely such testing and reached the conclusions that you mention.

  9. Joe Well

    Just imagining a few hypothetical scenarios of how COVID could increase deaths not from COVID:

    1. Bob has a mild case of COVID which nonetheless causes a persistent arrhythmia. Three months after recovering he has a heart attack and dies.

    2. Alice gets lung scarring from a mild case of COVID which aggravates her COPD, which sets off a domino effect of health problems until she too dies of a heart attack.

    3. David develops depression and brain fog from asymptomatic COVID which he doesn’t believe is real and so doesn’t recognize. He does not seek any mental healthcare because on top of denial and stigma there is less outreach going on by doctors. A year later, he dies in a car accident after driving recklessly.

    And then there is all the delayed healthcare during the pandemic. And the depression from lockdowns and seeing people you know suffer and die.

    1. GM

      Yes, and many other situations like this.

      There was a case like that I personally know of from last year — whole family gets COVID, quite bad, but nobody hospitalized, then a month later they wait for the bus at the bus stop and the father suddenly collapses to the ground and may well have been crushed had the bus been a little bit closer. Turned out it was a massive stroke. They saved him in the hospital as this was thankfully past the COVID surge during which he was infected and they could give him the needed attention.

      Of course nobody made the connection that someone in his 40s is not supposed to have a stroke and that it might have something to do with the recent COVID episode.

      But that sort of thing is happening everywhere.

      And we are just starting with this — the Omicron wave is the first one after which most of the population will have been infected plus perhaps 20% reinfected. The reinfections cycle and downwards heath spiral will be starting now.

      Depending on how bad the brain damage turns out to be, this can easily go into something approaching zombie apocalypse territory — imagine a world in which a significant chunk of the population has serious neurological disorders. It would be actually better if they all just lied down and wasted slowly, but it’s not going to be like that, there will be a lot of people acting disorderly and aggressively because of it. As yourself mentioned in your example #3, which leaves out the part where that accident may well have involved another car and the people in it died too.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        “…Of course nobody made the connection that someone in his 40s is not supposed to have a stroke and that it might have something to do with the recent COVID episode….”

        and there’s the Plausible Deniability!

        we intend to survive out of spite.

        1. Mantid

          Here in the Pac NW, I see many, often young, doing erratic things. I drive cars seldom (bikes a lot) but am using my 3rd eye to be aware of random acts of suicidal behavior. Many people ignore walk/don’t walk signs, they just meander across the street. Some pedestrians, without looking, change direction and just walk into traffic. I used to associate this with people being on cell phones but I feel it’s more related to just “giving up”. Global warming and now Covid. There’s an undercurrent of a seeming death wish in people, younger people as well.

        2. Joe Well

          If Covid were put on trial in that case, it could not be convicted “beyond a reasonable doubt”.

          Which is the standard the skeptics want to use when discussing Covid.

  10. notbored

    Most of the claims for deaths being filed are not classified as COVID-19 deaths, Davison said.

    “What the data is showing to us is that the deaths that are being reported as COVID deaths greatly understate the actual death losses among working-age people from the pandemic. insurance CEO Scott Davison

    What about underreporting to VAERS which is already reporting an unprecedented number of deaths from the current “vaccines?”

    And if officially “death with Covid = death FROM Covid” then wouldn’t a simple test of the corpses put them in the died from Covid column?

  11. Gumnut

    Excess mortality in Germany’s 16 state’s is correlated with vaccination rates – not in favour of the vaccines: (scroll down for graph)
    – just a correlation & hotly chased through German media/factcheckers, but still poses a question to answer (crickets thus far, naturally).

    Equally excess mortality in Europe equally well up beyond direct covid case numbers: Not sure about vax rate correlation, but still, where is the public reassurance that all is fine, nothing to see.

    Can someone point to a reasonable information source that explains/ breaks down attribution to covid infection vs. covid vaccination?

    Are McCullough & Malone et. al. totally off?

    1. Larry Y

      What does excess mortality in places where they have vaccines but not massive outbreaks tell us? See Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Singapore, New Zealand, etc.

      The vaccines are probably not as safe as other vaccines authorized in pre-COVID times, but in the short term, compared to catching COVID multiple times if you’re late twenties or older…

      1. Gumnut

        When I add all those countries in + Germany, Denmark & Portugal, the only one that does not have that slanted upwards trajectory from Jan 2021 on is New Zealand. All others have a clear trend beyond the spikes that coincide with high case rates.

        To fairly compare risk of covid vs. vaccine requires
        – taking into account what else than vaccines one can do to lower bad covid health outcomes (reducing cardiovascular risks – blood sugar, blood pressure, etc., vitamin D, ventilation, correct masks, early treatments – even the noncontroversial ones)
        – how often you need to repeat the vaccine
        – fair vaccine safety data (too much to ask?)
        – reinfection risks vs. vaccination status

        = multivariable, mostly, but not totally out of our control.

  12. GM

    There is one more thing that nobody is talking about — during the first 18 months excess deaths were tracking with COVID deaths in Western Europe, where reporting was supposedly accurate, unlike proper or near-Third world places like Africa, Eastern Europe and the US.

    Spain and Italy hid 20-40% of theirs, and the UK just erased 30% of theirs with the 28-days rule, but for other countries excess deaths were fairly close to their official COVID counts.

    Not so much during the current wave

    Take a look at the Netherlands for example:

    3x discrepancy between official and excess deaths in November,

    Germany at 2x

    Denmark at 2x


    So is someone deliberately massaging the numbers, learning from the example set by other countries earlier in the pandemic (that you can make yourself look a lot better by just not reporting)?

    Or are these the consequences of previous waves that are manifesting themselves as the weather got cold?

    1. jim truti

      I think it will be interesting and telling to see stats for Israel which is heavily vaccinated and Palestine with very little vaccination and correct them for age differences.

      1. Mantid

        Not an accurate comparison unfortunately. With Israel’s apartheid level blockades of everything from fresh water to construction materials, it would be no wonder that in Palestine there may be many cases, relatively.

    2. Paleobotanist

      Dear GM,

      Forgive my constant questions. Why is mucosal immunity IgA shorter lasting than humeral immunity, if there is an answer for a layperson?

      Thank you,


  13. ChrisRUEcon

    #China #LifeExpectancy

    Making the rounds in the #TwitterSphere for a week now – the pandemic has caused life expectancy in China to pass that of the US (via Twitter). As pointed out in the tweet, China has managed close a 26-year-gap in just over 60 years.

  14. IM Doc

    I will add my own observation here.

    Family and I moved about 4 years ago from a major metro area in the USA. I had thousands of patients, and my wife and I were heavily involved in social circles.

    I have been subscribing to the paper in that area since that time. One of the chief reasons is to scan the obits every day. I look for my old patients so I can contact their families and we look for our old friends for the same reason.

    Since approximately 12-14 months ago, there has been an obvious stand out trend. Obviously, the number of pages required to do the obits has just exploded – and remained high to this day. As one would expect, many many elderly people. However, one also notices the huge number of 40s and 50s and 60s that are in those pages as well, way out of proportion to earlier times.

    Obviously, the cause of death is not listed in the vast majority of the cases, nor should it be. But the change is obvious to those paying attention – unfortunately for the reasons above, I am one of those people.

    Even in my own practice, in the small town, I have had what I would call an abnormal number of younger people dying this past year. By far and away the number one cause has been suicide. But there has also been an increase in heart and stroke related issues as well. And not all of the patients are dying.

    This is something we must keep our eyes on this year. I have doubled down in my practice on suicide risk – and we are very very carefully screening early warning signs for heart issues – ie sudden increase in BP, huge changes in A1c, shortness of breath, etc.

    And for those concerned, I alone have no ability to ascertain the causes here. That would require major long-term longitudinal evaluation in multiple areas. It does seem to be happening everywhere though – I am hearing this from colleagues increasingly. There are those who want to blame the vaccines. Maybe, maybe not. It could very easily be related to the COVID infection itself. Again – massive amounts of study will need to be done.

    However, I am not surprised by the sudden lack of workers. I think this may be a very contributory cause.

    1. SouthSideGT

      Thank you, IMDoc. I really appreciate your writing and clarity. And a hearty “thank you” to Yves for providing this forum.

      1. BeliTsari

        Thanks, ALL of you! Perhaps, “major long-term longitudinal evaluation in multiple areas.” By some people, capable of actually choosing a government beyond LOTEing in duopoly. But, wild guess: any opportunity to learn about or treat autoimmune, inflammatory, airborne, circulatory disease; what actually works during pandemics or how to cope with a brainwashed PMC (who’s busy cashing in on essential workers’ being fed to a virus, that elsewhere was rapidly contained). Here, it’s like mining a comet. All NYC seems to have learned was how to hide the bodies. And how opening schools, BARS, restaurants, houses-of-worship, workplaces is a great way to harvest precariate homes, W4 jobs, life savings; while smug petit bourgeois voters’ watch NASDAQ (now S&P) portfolios kick poor folk ass? Now, to see if we make it through our third week of reinfection in time to enjoy Super Immunity before B.1.640.2 hits, or Martial Law ensues?

    2. NB

      Thanks to IMDoc and GM for opening my mind today to this increase in death possibly being part due to effects of Covid – as well as growing evidence for vaccine injuries. Oh for a public health department somewhere in the world that starts looking into this urgent public health situation urgently!

  15. TroyIA

    Since Omicron relies on the endosomal pathway does that mean we can dust off our boxes of hydroxychloroquine?

    1. SouthSideGT

      Unsurprisingly, I don’t have any “boxes of hydroxychloroquine” because AFAIK there are no significant clinical trials to date showing that hydroxychloroquine is an effective treatment against COVID-19. I might be wrong so if you any info to the contrary I urge you to post it. But you might sometime somehow in the future get malaria so FWIW keep the “boxes of hydroxychloroquine” handy for a while before you finally reluctantly I am sure list them on e-Bay.

      1. Mantid

        Here is a constantly updated assessment of various Covid treatments, both pos and neg. “boxes of hydroxychloroquine” could be of some use. Not the strongest but better than many. Compare here:

      2. Hayek's Heelbiter

        Once again emphasizing the misleading MSM trope.

        because AFAIK there are no significant clinical trials to date showing that hydroxychloroquine is an effective treatment against COVID-19.”

        Even doctors themselves do not claim that HCQ is a treatment for Covid but that the compound should be employed as a PROPHYLAXIS (19th century: modern Latin, from pro-2 ‘before’ + Greek phulaxis ‘act of guarding’, i.e. “prevention”). › cgi › viewcontent.cgi?article=5284&context=facpub
        et al.
        “Hydroxychloroquine Prophylaxis for COVID-19” [Note credentials of web page].

    2. GM

      You see the cartoon in the original post?

      Camostat works well in cell culture to stop the fusion pathway

      But when it was tried in real life, it failed miserably to offer meaningful protection

  16. Concerned Hoosier

    The Center Square article is a significant distortion of what was said at the news conference.

    Link to the actual news conference here:

    More accurate coverage here:

    I forwarded this article to the parties involved in the press conference, and several have replied that this article is a misrepresentation of what they were saying. I expect an official response to come out soon.

    Two of the responses:

    “Thank you for contacting us. You are correct that is not at all how the gentleman from One America was characterizing the data—we will look into how this is being shared.”

    Brian Tabor
    Indiana Hospital Alliance

    “A complete twist of his message. His message was that MOST of the 40% increase in deaths is due to COVID, but not all of it. Proving once again, the anti-vax crowd only hears what they want to hear and won’t listen to the facts. ”

    Kevin Brinegar
    President and CEO
    Indiana Chamber of Commerce

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Someone who was at the conference (virtually) independently presented the same formulation as in the article we quoted.

      If you’re going to trust anyone to know the real cost of #COVID19 in terms of deaths, trust life insurance companies. I was there for this online news conference and it was stunning. Deaths are up 40% *from pre-pandemic levels* among working-age people.

      The Indiana Hospital Alliance and the Chamber of Congress are not insurance experts and not competent to opine. The One America CEO is the one who should be demanding a correction if one needs to be made. The fact that people who have no connection to the insurance industry are making a stink says that someone didn’t like this report (as opposed to actually could object to it) and these very removed from the action stooges were the best they could round up to make noise.

      They need to present the full clip of Davison said or shut up.

  17. diptherio

    Somebody needs to adjust their model:

    “Just to give you an idea of how bad that is, a three-sigma or a one-in-200-year catastrophe would be 10% increase over pre-pandemic,” he said. “So 40% is just unheard of.”

  18. Kris Alman

    Covid has always been a pandemic that disproportionately affects those with co-morbidities. The outcome of this omicron covid cluster in Nebraska, reported at the CDC, is illustrative of this contagious variant.

    If you are a white collar worker who can tele-work; if you can buy the N95s, the air purifiers and avoid large crowds because you aren’t an essential worker interfacing regularly with the public you are probably someone who is of better means. Here’s a thought experiment. If the unvaccinated (and that includes many Hispanics and Blacks who have traditionally voted D) have significant co-morbidities in the 80%+ range and the vaccinated has co-morbidities in the 50% range, which population is going to have worse outcomes?

    1. Kris Alman

      Put where we are with Omicron in the context of Danish data.

      Omicron became the majority of infections starting mid-December there. It’s currently 90% of the cases.

      The vaccinated getting infected with this strain exceeds unvaccinated. Approximately 90% to 10%. ~80% of Denmark is fully vaccinated. And hospitalizations are starting to approximate hospitalizations of other strains of the case data from this time period. The current report (1/3) shows .9% versus 1.2% of omicron v. other variants hospitalization rate. As a country with universal health care and markedly decreased income/wealth inequality, we can assume that our stats are going to look markedly worse.

      Hospitalizations are on the rise with omicron. The good news is that ICU admissions have been <5.

      This data is outstanding in both what is coming to the U.S., but also in terms of how the data we can analyze from the CDC and states is so inadequate.

  19. Kris Alman

    Mortality is on the rise in Denmark. From Financial Times, you can look at cases and deaths. This link specifically compares U.S. to EU, Denmark, UK, South Africa and Israel, honing in on data from November 1st.

    Of course, America has been exceptional, leading the pack when it comes to new deaths attributed to Covid-19 per 110k.

    1. Jason Boxman

      Early on when I heard (~ March/April 2020) that COVID was causing cardiovascular issues, I knew we were all screwed. And it’s even worse than I thought, apparently.

  20. Kris Alman

    As recently as 11/21, there was this headline:
    Why the coronavirus is unlikely to become deadlier

    This is why Monica Gandhi, an infectious disease doctor and professor of medicine at the University of California–San Francisco, told Salon viruses usually evolve to become more transmissible — not more lethal…
    Ebola is a norovirus that evolved to cause such severe symptoms in its hosts for the sake of transmissibility, though these same symptoms end up killing its host, too. Still, Ebola is an unusual case.”The virus, speaking anthropomorphically, just wants to spread and have its genes replicated,” Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Health Security, told AP News. “If the best way for it is to spread by causing severe symptoms it will continue to do that.” For this reason, Gandhi said Ebola is “not a very smart virus.”


    We, the hosts, are really not very “smart” too, if you extend that logic.
    Mutations Related to the Host Immune System

    Wang et al. [41] show by studying C > T mutations in the viral genome that about 65% of these are imposed by the host immune response: the APOBEC system (apolipoprotein B mRNA editing enzyme, catalytic polypeptide-like) edits the viral genes and in return T > C mutations are caused by the virus’ protection mechanism, T > C.
    This C > T ratio increases with age (older people are more affected) and may also explain the differences in the populations’ level of infection (Africans and Oceanians are less affected by this mutation and the epidemic in their geographical area has been less severe than elsewhere).

    1. Skunk


      Ebola is not a norovirus, and this statement is nonsense: “Ebola is a norovirus that evolved to cause such severe symptoms in its hosts for the sake of transmissibility, though these same symptoms end up killing its host, too.”

      Ebola belongs to the family of filoviradae:

      We know very little about the evolution of viruses in this group. Moreover, the Ebola virus is typically thought to be spread through bodily fluids, so it is not as transmissible as respiratory viruses.

  21. Jen

    The undergrads are returning to my small liberal arts college. Apparently there are some pretty deep fissures amongst the leadership regarding the current plan for the fall term, hi-lights of which include isolating in place if positive (so, if in a dorm, “isolating” with your roommate or roommates and using shared bathrooms), and following CDC+ guidance for isolation (5 days + one negative rapid antigen test).

    Of course the students will also be milling about town in stores and restaurants.

    And, predictably a co-worker who was infected last October was infected once again over the holidays. And stopped by the on-site testing facility to get a PCR test. And is planning to return to the office in a couple of days because the CDC says he can.

    Not going anywhere near campus for the foreseeable future and thankful I have that option. These people are insane.

    1. petal

      From my perch on the edge of campus, I observed the returned/ing undergrads(is it wrong to call them plague rats?) all weekend. Hanging out packed closely together, no masks, screwing around like normal. This is going to be a disaster. Let ‘er rip, for sure. My anxiety is through the roof. This morning I re-read the guidelines sent out and still can’t believe it. Expendable.

      My wealthy boss has decamped(escaped) to warmer climes for a few months, leaving us here to keep working on-site. I feel like one of the coal shovelers in the gut of the Titanic. A person in my group flew back from TX Tuesday, came in Wed to work-no quarantine, no testing before showing up(they did what the latest rules say). Someone I grew up with has covid for the 2nd time(in bed, bad body aches, etc). They were livid last night and complained to me about being misled about the vaccines(“I’m vaccinated! This isn’t supposed to be happening.”).

      1. Jen

        Plague rats would be entirely appropriate.

        I’m trying to imagine how the parents of a student who acquires long covid will feel “well, at least they got to have the on-campus experience.”

        I’m also trying to image who will feed the plague rats if the dining hall staff go down. I’m all for heaving loaves of wonderbread and jars of PB&J at them from a very, very safe distance. Like a helicopter, maybe. I’m sure several of our trustees could provide one.

        1. allan

          With the latest release on my dashboard,
          at an institution that is probably similar in size and makeup to yours,
          the time axis has now been truncated to the last month,
          rather than as previously going back to the start of the pandemic.
          LOL. As if nobody will notice.

  22. Greg Taylor

    The exec’s observation about excess US mortality lends some credibility to
    You can play with the filters at that site to see rates for 25-44 and 45-64 age groups graphed over time starting in Jan 2020. The excess mortality for these groups peak between July and October 2021 at 60-80% above normal, far higher than at any other time during the pandemic. This excess mortality pattern isn’t seen in other age groups in this time period.

    It would be interesting to see if this is happening in other countries. If it is, it doesn’t appear to be widespread.

  23. ks

    A portion of those deaths are presumably related to but not directly attributable to Covid – e.g., hospital avoidance leading to untreated cardio-vascular disease and diseases of depression and stress.

  24. Icecube12

    I posted last week that here in Iceland, the vaccinated are getting covid at a higher rate compared to the unvaxxed, and that freaked me out. I was just looking at one of the posts from yesterday, and IM Doc was talking about this too. I am thinking now that reason in Iceland might be that the vast majority of the unvaxxed are kids under 12. Until just before the Christmas school break, the 5-12 age group was leading the country in positive cases. I will add that the 13-17 age group, which is now 72% fully vaxxed, did not have nearly as many Delta infections. Then the kids went on break for Christmas, and at the same time Omicron really took over here (all cases are sequenced and we went from just a few cases to 70% Omicron in like a week or so), and then all of a sudden the 18-29 year olds were leading the infection numbers again (lots of partying here around the holidays) and the incidence rate for the vaxxed shot way up, surpassing that for the unvaxxed. If this is the right explanation, then we will see numbers among kids (and the unvaxxed) shoot up again soon. Maybe incidence rates will be pretty much the same.

    The authorities here have also been telling us for a while that the cases seem more mild and people seem to get better faster. Today the said that 30% of hospital cases (of which 25 total today) are Omicron, and the rest are Delta. Delta is on the way out, so good, I guess. But then I remember that it was only 2-3 weeks ago that there was only 30% of diagnosed cases that were sequenced as Omicron…

    Incidentally, as I was writing this I just heard the epidemiologist say on the news that there is just as much Delta in the country as there was a few weeks ago before Omicron took over (in the order of 100 or so Delta cases a day, currently left in the dust by Omicron). I know people here were talking about parallel epidemics.

  25. Gumnut

    I know there seems to be some disdain to substacks, but here the rounding-the-earth one on the 40% deaths up in Indiana:

    So it seems the question is whether excess mortality – official covid deaths = hidden covid deaths AND/OR vax caused deaths.

    Hidden would imply (long) covid scarier than thought.

    Vax caused would imply vax*vax*vax death star alliance scarier than thought.

    What a choice of nightmare stimulants.

    1. Joe Well

      Do you really believe every government on earth that uses these vaccines could and would hide hundreds of thousands of vaccine-related deaths?

      1. Gumnut

        Belief is arbitrary, some fair facts would be preferable of course.

        That said, nearly every government on earth is steering to yet more deaths via pollution (currently running in the 1-10 million deaths per year) and then the jackpot of climate*food production coming at us in few decades without any effective response to prevent that. That is of course no answer to the question, just an order-of-magnitude feasibility comparison.Depressing at best, maddening otherwise.

        Either way, there is an unaccounted number of deaths with a disconcerting silence around it.

  26. T_Reg

    “And on the other hand, even if Omicron might be less deadly, getting it does not confer lasting immunity.”. Citation on lasting immunity? It seems to me that that is unknowable at this point.

    1. Joe Well

      Google “covid reinfections.”

      The Omicron variant is not different enough for it to possibly provide much more lasting immunity than the existing variants (which is to say, little or none).

  27. Roger Blakely

    My 85-year-old cousin went in for a heart valve. Her aorta delaminated. SARS-CoV-2 does what it does. How many surgeons shake their heads and say, “Well, that wasn’t supposed to happen.” You would think that they would stop routine procedures because COVID-19 is such a wildcard.

  28. MarkT

    Update from New Zealand: the government has decided not to prosecute the British DJ who went walkabout while Omicron positive. Seems he has been in and out of the country regularly since the start of the pandemic and is probably of national importance (sarcasm). It’s still early days to know whether he infected anyone. Auckland residents (a third of the population) were released to infect the rest of the country in early December, and we’re experiencing something of a heatwave. So lots of people outdoors. Testing numbers are probably down but I don’t have the stats at hand. Early days …. We’ll see what the next few weeks bring.

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