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Then-President Donald Trump stands on the Truman Balcony after returning to the White House from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on October 5, 2020 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Win McNamee via Getty Images)

Then-President Donald Trump stands on the Truman Balcony after returning to the White House from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on October 5, 2020 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Win McNamee via Getty Images)

Covid Killed More Americans in 2021 Than 2020, and the GOP Death Cult Is Mostly to Blame

Every three days, COVID-19 kills as many people as the 9/11 attacks did.

Juan Cole

 by Informed Comment

The number of dead from COVID-19 in the U.S. in 2021, as of yesterday, November 20, surpassed the deadly toll of 2020.

Some 771,013 Americans have died of the novel coronavirus as of this writing, according to Johns Hopkins. The CDC estimates that 385,343 people died of COVID-19 in 2020.

When terrorists killed nearly 3,000 people on September 11, 2001, the right-wing in the United States insisted on treating it as an act of war instead of a criminal act. They took us into two big conventional wars followed by nearly two decades of guerrilla warfare, with smaller interventions in several other countries. It cost trillions. It made us less safe, not more. It displaced millions of people from their homes in the Middle East.

Every three days, COVID-19 kills as many people as the 9/11 attacks did. You have to wonder whether all that blood lust really derived from grief over the victims of 9/11 or whether those deaths just authorized an orgy of white wars on brown people. Because if the issue was grief for those killed, then we ought to see the same Republican Party that launched the Twenty Year Wars swing into action to make sure that not one American died unnecessarily from a much more fatal terrorism, that of COVID-19.

Instead, many Republican governors have forbidden mask mandates and have fought vaccination mandates (routine for other deadly diseases such as polio) in the courts.

In October, COVID-19 deaths in counties that voted for Trump were triple what they are in counties that voted for Biden. And WaPo reports that unvaccinated Americans lean Republican over Democrat by a 3 to 1 margin. Gee, that’s the same rate by which they are dying more.

Many of those 385,343 dead people did not have to die even in 2020 before the vaccines. In places like Hong Kong where people just masked up, the death toll was minuscule. In mainland China where some 82 percent of people masked up, the death toll for 2020 was on the order of 4,600. Even if this is a gross underestimate, it isn’t so much of an underestimate that it would change the galactic disparity with the U.S.

A just-published aggregation of the results of public health studies with over 300,000 participants confirmed that mask-wearing cut the incidence of COVID-19 by 53 percent. It appeared in the BJM, a peer-reviewed medical journal of the union o the British Medical Association.

The authors observe, “a natural experiment across 200 countries showed 45.7% fewer Covid-19 related mortality in countries where mask-wearing was mandatory.”

So that means that the US death toll to date could be less than 400,000 instead of nearly 800,000.

Before getting fully vaccinated, I never was inside a building without a mask on after mid-March of 2020.

But only about 48 percent of Americans masked up before the vaccine, in 2020, which is the major reason for which 385,343 of them are six feet under.

Where this failure to mask indoors was owing to ignorance, you have to be full of pity for the victims of a rapacious and insidious disease. But where it was a willful refusal, well, you just have to give them a Darwin Award (a lot of Darwin Awards).

The ignorance of many of the victims was, moreover, connived at by Fox Cable News (which should be the subject of a class-action suit by survivors of dead former viewers) and by Republican governors such as Greg Abbott of Texas, Ron DeSantis of Florida, Brian Kemp of Georgia, and Kristi Noem of South Dakota (likewise).

As for the even more numerous victims of 2021, nearly all those who died since about June 21, by which time that nice Mr. Biden had provided vaccines to everyone who wanted one, have died in vain. A tiny percentage of people who have been vaccinated die of COVID-19, and those often have serious underlying health conditions that make it difficult for their bodies to produce antibodies even with a vaccination.

From mid-January of this year until October 1, 29,000 Texas were killed by COVID-19. Texas health authorities estimate that only 8% of those were fully vaccinated. Of that 8%, half were over 75 and probably those elderly people had health conditions that made them vulnerable. So if you are under 75 years of age and relatively healthy, you have a vanishingly small chance of dying if you are vaccinated. This is true even though the delta variant is nearly twice as deadly and ten times more transmissible than the original alpha variant.

All this should be good news. It is overshadowed by the bad news of our 2021 massive death toll, most of it avoidable.

© 2021 Juan Cole
Juan Cole

Juan Cole

Juan Cole teaches Middle Eastern and South Asian history at the University of Michigan. His newest book, "Muhammad: Prophet of Peace Amid the Clash of Empires" was published in 2020. He is also the author of  "The New Arabs: How the Millennial Generation Is Changing the Middle East" (2015) and "Napoleon's Egypt: Invading the Middle East" (2008).  He has appeared widely on television, radio, and on op-ed pages as a commentator on Middle East affairs, and has a regular column at He has written, edited, or translated 14 books and has authored 60 journal articles. 

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