NY's error in not vaccinating by age is killing people

April 4, 2021 By Alan Salzberg

The biggest co-morbidity for COVID is age.  It swamps all others.  For example, someone who is 30 and severely obese, or has diabetes, is much less likely to succumb to COVID than a 50 year-old without either of these co-morbidities. And this is true for every co-morbidity.  For this reason, I suggested simply vaccinating by age (after hospital/medical workers) in my January blog post.  This was essentially the advice given by the CDC, too.  

New York chose to mostly ignore it.  A neighboring state, Connecticut, chose to go further than the CDC recommended and vaccinate almost exclusively by age.

We are now seeing the results of these policies.  Connecticut has vaccinated (at least one shot) 85% of its 65+ population while NY is at slightly under 70% (see CDC site here: https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#vaccinations ). This despite the fact that, overall, they have given a similar number of shots, adjusted for population (Ct is at 59 per 100 people while NY is at 54, a difference I also attribute to the complicated rules in NY.

The difference appears to be showing up in death rate. Connecticut's most recent daily toll was 0, and hasn't been 10 or more since March 15.  Connecticut's 7-day daily average is 3.  New York's current 7-day average is 85.  Adjusting for population, Connecticut's 7-day average is just under 1 per million, versus NY's is 4 per million.  Another way of looking at it is that if NY was equivalent to CT they would be seeing around 20 deaths a day rather than 85.

[The difference may be showing up in hospitalization rate also.  Connecticut's hospitalization rate for COVID is at 140 per million, versus NY's 210 right now (see CT graph here and NY graph here), meaning total people in the hospital is 500 for Connecticut and 4,400 for NY (9 times more in NY although the population of NY is only 6 times larger).  Connecticut is down by more than 60% since its peak of 1,269 in December while NY's drop is a little less dramatic, at about 50% from its recent peak of 9,273.  ]

It's of course possible and even likely that some of the differences cited above are due to other factors -- different variants circulating, differences in behavior and contact, etc).  But we do know, without any doubt at this point, that 10 years in age makes it about 3 times more likely to die from COVID.  And we do know, without any doubt, that CT has vaccinated about 15% more of its 65+ population than NY has and around 90% of COVID deaths occurred in that 65+ population over the last year.

Thus, a reasonable conclusion is that NY's vaccination allocation decisions in the last couple of months are currently killing around 65 people per day versus if they had taken the approach of Connecticut and other states that did vaccinations strictly by age.