Republican Counties Had Higher COVID Death Rates After Vaccines Became Available

Jacob Wallace, Paul Goldsmith-Pinkham, and Jason L. Schwartz, in a paper published in JAMA Internal Medicine, “Excess Death Rates for Republican and Democratic Registered Voters in Florida and Ohio During the COVID-19 Pandemic”:

Between January 1, 2018, and December 31, 2021, there were 538,159 individuals in Ohio and Florida who died at age 25 years or older in the study sample. The median age at death was 78 years (IQR, 71-89 years). Overall, the excess death rate for Republican voters was 2.8 percentage points, or 15%, higher than the excess death rate for Democratic voters (95% prediction interval [PI], 1.6-3.7 percentage points). After May 1, 2021, when vaccines were available to all adults, the excess death rate gap between Republican and Democratic voters widened from −0.9 percentage point (95% PI, −2.5 to 0.3 percentage points) to 7.7 percentage points (95% PI, 6.0-9.3 percentage points) in the adjusted analysis; the excess death rate among Republican voters was 43% higher than the excess death rate among Democratic voters. The gap in excess death rates between Republican and Democratic voters was larger in counties with lower vaccination rates and was primarily noted in voters residing in Ohio.

This study strongly suggests that the only thing that mattered regarding COVID mortality was vaccination. Also, COVID was/is a disease that largely kills the elderly — the excess mortality in this study was entirely amongst people 75 and older. Even amongst those 65–74, excess mortality was down. All the other policy differences between Republican and Democratic-leaning counties made for no difference in mortality rates before vaccines were available.

I’m not sure what to make of the fact that the excess death rate was pronounced only in Ohio, and not Florida. The study itself doesn’t seem to offer a hypothesis for that discrepancy. Perhaps weather? Old people in Ohio spent more time indoors, where COVID is far more likely to spread?

(Via Political Wire.)

Tuesday, 25 July 2023