Abstract: The death toll of the COVID-19 pandemic has been unprecedented, due to both the high number of SARS-CoV-2 infections and the seriousness of the disease resulting from these infections. Here, we present mortality rates and case fatality rates for COVID-19 over the past year compared with other historic leading causes of death in the United States. Among the risk categories considered, COVID-19 is the third leading cause of death for individuals 40 years old and over, with an overall annual mortality rate of 325 deaths per 100K individuals, behind only cancer (385 deaths per 100K individuals) and heart disease (412 deaths per 100K individuals). In addition, for individuals 40 years old and over, the case fatality rate for COVID-19 is greater than the case fatality rate for motor vehicle accidents. In particular, for the age group 40-49, the relative case fatality rate of COVID-19 is 1.5 fold (95% CI: [1.3, 1.7]) that of a motor vehicle accident, demonstrating that SARS- CoV-2 infection may be significantly more dangerous than a car crash for this age group. For older adults, COVID-19 is even more dangerous, and the relative case fatality rate of COVID-19 is 29.4 fold (95% CI: [23.2, 35.7]) that of a motor vehicle accident for individuals over 80 years old. On the other hand, motor vehicle accidents have a 4.5 fold (95% CI: [3.9, 5.1]) greater relative case fatality rate compared to COVID-19 for the age group of 20-29 years. These results highlight the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic especially for adults above 40 years of age and underscore the need for large-scale preventative measures to mitigate risks for these populations. Given that FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccines have now been validated by multiple studies for their outstanding real-world effectiveness and safety, vaccination of all individuals who are over 40 years of age is one of the most pressing public health priorities of our time.
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