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What We’re Reading: COVID-19’s Contribution to 2022 Death Toll; Texas AG Requests Gender Change Data; HCV Treatment Lags in Prisons


COVID-19 vaccines have prevented more than 3.2 million deaths, but the US death rate this year has not declined to prepandemic numbers; Texas Attorney General (AG) Ken Paxton’s office has requested driver’s license records with sex changes from the past 2 years, among other documents, from the Texas Department of Public Safety; even though hepatitis C virus (HCV) is curable, some people who are incarcerated are going without treatment and dying.

COVID Still in the Top 3 Causes of Death of 2022, Even While Vaccines Save Lives

While death tolls in the US decreased in 2022 following the most lethal year in 2021 with over 3.4 million deaths, there were still more deaths this year than before the pandemic, according to the Associated Press. COVID-19 was again the third-leading cause of death this year, behind heart disease and cancer. Drug overdose deaths are decreasing, and vaccination against COVID-19 has saved the lives of over 3.2 million Americans. However, 2022 is not yet over and a possible increase in deaths at the end of the year could influence the final result. The article also noted CDC data revealing around 3500 fatalities involving long COVID from January 2020 into June 2022.

Office of Texas Attorney General Asked for Data on Gender Changes in Texas

In June, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office requested a list of people who changed their gender on Texas driver’s licenses from the previous 2 years, among other department records, from the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), as reported by The Washington Post. Paxton’s office directly contacted the driver’s license division, and DPS proceeded to search for records in the “sex” category of driver’s licenses but also state identification cards, learner’s permits, commercial licenses, and more, resulting in a list of 16,466 gender changes from June 1, 2020, to June 30, 2022. There is no clear reason why Paxton’s office requested the information.

Preventable HCV Deaths Occurring in US Prison System

In the 6 years after the first hepatitis C virus (HCV)–curing drug sofosbuvir (Sovaldi) became available to the public in 2013, a total of 1013 people in state custody died from HCV-related complications, according to STAT News. STAT analyzed 27,674 death records to calculate this previously unreported number. The findings illustrate the preventable consequences of insufficient HCV treatment for prisoners, many of whom would have had the opportunity to leave the prison system and participate in life outside of incarceration if they had received treatment. Experts interviewed in the piece cited the high costs of HCV-curing drugs to underfunded prison systems as driving the lack of treatment.

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