What We’re Reading: Anniversary of Pandemic Declaration; 100 Million More Vaccines Ordered; Increase in US Death Rate

Today marks the 1-year anniversary of the World Health Organization declaring COVID-19 a pandemic; President Biden orders 100 million more Johnson & Johnson vaccines; 2020 saw a 15% increase in the US death rate.

WHO Anniversary of Pandemic Declaration

It has been 1 year since the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic. The United States still faces numbers too high to relax transmission mitigation protocols, CNN reports. As of March 11, 2021, over 29 million cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the United States and over 529,000 individuals have died, with thousands more dying each week. Although average hospital admissions and COVID-19 deaths have declined in the past week, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, urged Americans to remain vigilant as vaccination efforts continue across the country. Experts have also warned potential surges could be imminent as highly contagious variants of COVID-19 continue to spread.

100 Million More Vaccines Ordered

President Joe Biden has ordered an additional 100 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s (J&J) COVID-19 vaccine in an effort to safeguard against COVID-19 variants and prepare for possible child immunizations, according to The Washington Post. The new order, although not finalized, will bring the total amount of J&J vaccine doses purchased by the United States up to 200 million and is not expected to be fulfilled until the second half of 2021. Currently, around 260 million US adults are eligible to be vaccinated. The president also plans to share excess doses produced with other countries to help mitigate the gaps between developed nations and the rest of the world, although he does not consider the doubled J&J supply surplus.

US Death Rate Spiked by 15% in 2020

New CDC data show the US death rate increased by 15% in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Politico reports. The increase means 2020 was the deadliest year in US history and classified COVID-19 as the third leading cause of death behind heart disease and cancer, replacing “unintentional injuries.” In 2020, 3 million people in the United States died, signifying the largest increase since 1918 when the country suffered hundreds of thousands of excess deaths from World War I and a flu outbreak. In comparison, previous data show the 2019 death rate decreased by 1.2% compared with the 2018 toll. More detailed information on the spike is expected in an upcoming CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.