- The Washington Times - Friday, October 15, 2021

The coronavirus was the leading cause of death for people ages 35 to 54 last month and made the list of top seven causes of death in other age groups, a Kaiser Family Foundation analysis found.

COVID-19 ranked as the leading cause of death among people 35 to 54 years old in August as well, the KFF report says. In July, COVID-19 ranked fifth for 35 to 44-year-olds and fourth for 45 to 54-year-olds. 

More than 61,600 people ages 35 to 54 have died from COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic as of Wednesday, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows. Specific data on deaths for age groups were not provided in the report.

The more infectious COVID-19 delta variant, easing of social distancing restrictions and “insufficient vaccination rates” caused COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths to tick up again, briefly placing the respiratory illness early this year as the leading cause of death — topping perennial leaders heart disease and cancer, Kaiser Family Foundation researchers wrote in the report published Wednesday.

About 3,135 people died from COVID-19 every day in January, KFF found. The death rate began to drop afterward but started rising again in August with the spread of the delta variant. In September, COVID-19 claimed the lives of an average 1,899 people each day, the report says. 

Heart disease, which typically ranks as the leading cause of death in the U.S. each year, kills about 1,800 people daily on average, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows. An estimated average of 1,600 Americans die from cancer each day, according to the National Cancer Institute. 

The KFF researchers say fatalities from COVID-19 are dropping this month, with a daily average of more than 1,600 people who died in the first week of October. Most COVID-19 deaths have been among the unvaccinated. 

For most of 2020, COVID-19 ranked as the third leading cause of death, the analysis says. In July, it dropped to the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S. before moving up the list again. 

The KFF analysts estimate that since June about 90,000 deaths from COVID-19 among adults could have been prevented with vaccination. 

As of Friday, the coronavirus has infected more than 44 million people and killed about 722,000 in the U.S., a Johns Hopkins tally shows. Nearly 66% of the U.S. population and 77% of people 12 years and older were fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as of Thursday, the CDC said. 

• Shen Wu Tan can be reached at stan@washingtontimes.com.

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