COVID and death

I am not a scientist. But I’ve been wondering about death rates and COVID. From the CDC website I found these statistics regarding deaths per 100,000 in the US across all age groups:
Vaccinated person’s occurrence of death all ages: .7 per 100,000 or .0007%
Unvaccinated person’s occurrence of death all ages: 9.1 per 100,000 or .0091%
I then wondered about deaths per 100,000 from other causes in the US across all age groups. Here’s what I found:
Rate of cancer deaths: 158.3 per 100,000 or .1583%
Rate of car accident death: 11.9 per 100,000 or .0119%
Rate of death by falls: 64 per 100,000 or .064%
Rate of death by influenza and pneumonia (2019): 14.9 per 100,000 or .0149 %

Based on this data, it seems to me that people in general face a much greater risk of dying from, for instance, a fall, than they do of dying of COVID. Is my thinking here flawed in some way? If so, I’d really like to know from an expert.

My theory is that just by getting out of bed (or staying in bed too long) in the morning, we take risks that all of us are willing, to one degree or another, to take. Some are more cautious than others, but no one is free of risk entirely. Could I die in a car accident? Sure, but I take the risk to live a life where I can go places relatively quickly. Could I die of influenza? Yes. But, besides getting a flu shot every year, I choose to carry on with my life socially. Could I die by falling? Yes, but I still go up and down the steps in my home and in and out of church, because it’s a reasonable risk for me (and I need to get upstairs to sleep in my bed!).

As a vaccinated and boostered person under 60, I’m guessing the death per 100,000 rate is even lower than the .7 for all ages documented by the CDC. My risk of death from COVID seems quite low compared to some other risks that I’m readily willing to take. Am I missing something? Is the deaths per 100,000 not related to risk, perhaps. Please help me out here. I really want to understand.

thanks. I’m glad you are asking these good questions. Please would you link your page? Yes, the rate of death per person that gets Covid is higher than that, especially if it’s not treated in ICU. There are other factors, too. Currently, the number of deaths (nearly 800,000 in the US) is about 2x/ the total number of Americans that died in World War II. Also, if you just factor in that everyone can get the virus some day, death ranges can be in the millions–not negligible at all. It’s the first cause of death in certain age ranges currently.

True, it’s not as bad as the Black Death, but I’m a family doc, and I’ve observe the following, as well

  1. average hospital stay for Covid is longer-- often about a week or so, and it’s very expensive (hospitals get a flat fee per stay, so no, they don’t keep people longer to make more money–they lose it, the longer they stay. I know cases of 3 months stay with ventilator dependence, if they survive). The cost to the country and health care will be astronomical, in care of the sick alone. I am concerned that it will tip us to a major change of economy.

  2. Many folks (20-30% is a number I have heard) have long term effects. A missionary we support still isn’t thinking clearly, about 5 months after his covid–he’s about 50 years old, and could not figure out a shopping list of 4 items when his wife sent him out. It’s not a 10 day virus for many.

In Michigan, we’re having the highest peak in the country. A significant number of my patients (in the double digits) have died, and the ICUs are overflowing to the point sick patients needing admission have to stay in the ER (pushing others out of the way). Heart attacks and depression and other severe urgencies are not getting the care they need because of those on high flow (55 liter/min) nasal cannulae or vents. It’s awful. It’s not just those who die, or survive a long recovery, but also the others who can’t get care as they need.

Stories of India, where they have had severe oxygen shortages, show people dying of Covid when the hospitals are full and can’t accept the (see some National Geographic and BBC articles, for example).

Thanks. Best wishes! By being vaccinated, you are decreasing not only the death rate, but the health care and financial burden of others.


PS I think that that sort of figure may take out of consideration that amount of prevention that has been done–all the social distancing, vaccinations, masking, handwashing, etc. If we did nothing to protect ourselves against the spread, the rate would have been much higher in the population. The death rate per person who gets Covid is higher yet, but as a German minister said, it’s quite likely that sometime soon, everyone will either be vaccinated, recovered, or dead from Covid, at the rate the virus is spreading. Germany Covid: Health minister’s stark warning to get jabbed - BBC News

As a family doc, I’m frustrated with not being able to treat diabetes, depression, or other things urgently. We are trying to do it all at once, and we are working extra shifts to keep people out of the ER. It’s frankly burning us out. It is now clearer yet, though, that targeting the huge source of admissions (Covid) will help us also treat the others better. Thanks.

@pevaquark would be great on the stats; I 'm in the middle of work, but can do this later, too.



As Randy mentioned, please give the source of your numbers so that good answers can be given. A quick look at the CDC site shows death rates given there are often from past years as it takes a while to get firm numbers. Here is an article I found that gives current numbers, showing Covid is currently the third leading cause of death in the US.


Edit: @jpm shared before me by a few seconds I think.


KFF has a great but mildly depressing summary:

For example you can see that when broken down by age group, COVID-19 was the #1 killer of those aged 35-44 and 45-54 in the months of August and September. And most of those deaths could have been prevented. Very sad. And even then, we are comparing deaths from ALL cancers and deaths from ALL types of heart disease to a single virus- that killed more people than it should have.


We find that since June 2021 over 90,000 lives likely would have been saved with vaccinations. Most of these preventable deaths occurred in the last month, well after vaccines became available. In September 2021 alone, approximately 49,000 deaths likely would have been averted if they had chosen to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

How do you even talk to people who resist getting vaccinated.

By the way, welcome to the forum. Statistics can really be confusing, so thank you for putting this out there so we can all learn from it. I see on another site that the overall death rate with Covid is 240/100K which is quite a bit higher than the number you quoted, so perhaps we are talking apples and oranges with different time periods, so let us know where your numbers are from. At least from the Peterson article, it seems your risk of dying from Covid is greater than dying in a car wreck or other accident, so not negligible. Certainly not comparable with getting out of bed.



Here’s a screenshot of the source for the .7/100,000 deaths for vaccinated and 9.1/100,000 for unvaccinated people. It was dated October 2021.

The other data on deaths per 100,000 were obtained by web searches and I didn’t bookmark all of them, but could fairly easily replicate them.

Thank you for all of the input. I’m not trying to deny or minimize the number of deaths that have occurred. I’m just trying to assess risk moving forward. For example, in a church with 90% of worshippers vaccinated, is the risk of making masks optional reasonable or not? I tend to think it is.

I’m also concerned that much of the data around COVID is reported to create as much fear as possible. With all respect, anecdotal evidence is important, but is not compelling to me. Or citing that COVID was a leading cause of death for a particular age group for a two-month span – that is not compelling to me either. It picks a tiny slice of data to try to make a point.

Again, I think vaccines are great. But I also think that at some point COVID needs to be considered endemic. We’ll never eradicate it, so what reasonable, measured, sensible risks do we take (like with so many other things) in order to live reasonably free and fulfilling lives?

Like others, I’m not clear on exactly what your numbers meant, but I’m not sure that’s really relevant to your question. Right now, since you’re fully vaccinated and boosted, I don’t see any reason why you shouldn’t mostly go about your life. You may become infected but you are unlikely to become severely ill. The risk of long covid is less clear, but it seems to be substantially lower than without vaccination. So I’ve been going to work – wearing a good mask on the subway and a surgical mask when with others at work – and to the store and so on. I’d still avoid crowded bars or anywhere people are singing or yelling, but that reflects my personal risk tolerance. (Note: I’m 61, so my base risk is a bit higher but not terrible.)

The best course of action for you depends on the details of risk, benefit, and risk tolerance for you. If you have someone in your household with a compromised immune system, you’ll probably want to take much more stringent precautions. If you want to avoid getting sick, you might want to limit exposure during intense waves. This week, I’m working from home because transmission is very high in my state and I particularly don’t want to infect my wife before she takes an important trip.

That’s my take on the situation in the era of Delta. What the considerations will be next month, when Omicron is likely to be the flavor of the day, we don’t yet know. And in six months or a year everything could be different.

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Those numbers aren’t correct for overall death rate.

In some states the overall death toll is now over 300 per 100,000.

I think maybe you are confusing number of deaths per 100,000 PER DAY with “chance of dying of COVID.” The death rate per day in some places is similar to the numbers you posted:

With all the stats you quoted the time frame matters.

For example, in 2019, 11 people per 100,000 died in car accidents in the US in ONE YEAR. You can’t calculate a death rate from those numbers and apply it to “daily” without doing some additional math. Using that number to calculate “risk of dying of in car accident” would also involve more math.

When statistics about death rates are presented, you have to pay attention to the time frame involved and the risk of an individual contracting the cause of death in the first place. If 50% of the people who get a certain disease die, but only one in a million people get it, it’s not super relevant to an individual’s risk that the death rate is 50%. If (hypothetically) 1% of people who contract COVID die, and one out of every two people get it at some point, then the “death rate” means something different when it comes to risk.


As Christy said, it appears the the death rate in your graph is the daily rate, whereas the death rates quoted for cancer and heart disease are annual rates. So, you could roughly multiply the daily rate 365 to get an annual rate. That really doesn’t work well however, as the daily rate is extremely variable with Covid so is not really a valid comparison. It does bolster the argument that local conditions should be taken into account when looking at mandates and such. However, the problem with that is that we see spikes in areas where rates were previously low.

It does point out that statistics need to be interpreted by people who are familiar with the pitfalls and problems they present to give an accurate summary of what they mean. As the saying goes, there are liars, d*** liars, and statisticians.


Thank you for this chart. It makes much more sense to me. I think you are right that the chart I saw originally is daily/100,000 not yearly/100,000. Very helpful.


Using one single death rate, rather than differentiating by age, can lead to inaccurate conclusions.

COVID’s effects on old people and people with certain underlying conditions are much worse than the effects of children.

True, and that is why authorities have differing recommendations for different age groups. Some of that decision is related to relative risk, as well as availability. thus boosters were recommended for older folk before those over 18, and I just heard where they are lowering that to 16-17 year old to get a booster. As data comes in, and the risk to benefit in various groups is better defined, that will no doubt change.


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