The Aftermath of COVID: Four Years Later

The years of COVID deaths are finally becoming a memory, but many years remain before we will fully understand what happened. As we uncover more facts, learn from our mistakes, and, where we have to, hold people accountable, we should resist the temptation to reinvent history. COVID may have disproportionately targeted the elderly and the infirm, and in our response, we should have recognized that before locking down the whole country and pressuring the entire population to accept experimental vaccines. Nonetheless, COVID was a deadly disease that killed millions of people before their time.

The fact that COVID was a deadly and unique threat should not fade away, but in the face of ongoing rhetoric to the contrary, it can be forgotten. Serious commentators continue to claim that COVID was just another flu. For example, on June 20, Tucker Carlson hosted Neil Oliver, who has always come across as an extraordinarily perceptive commentator, and during the conversation, Oliver pointed out that “the flu disappeared when COVID came along,” and Carlson noted that he “didn’t know anyone who ever got COVID. In subsequent interviews, Carlson has repeated that observation.

Anecdotal evidence should not replace relevant data, but it can be useful to corroborate data. And from that perspective, one must wonder how Carlson’s entire network of family, friends, and friends of friends all managed to escape COVID. I know of hundreds of people who caught COVID and more than a few who died from the disease. I have spoken at-length with at least a dozen practicing doctors who described COVID as a unique new disease that targets whatever physical weakness a person may have, a disease that, according to these doctors, burdened America’s health care system nearly to the breaking point. It is simply not possible that all of these doctors were in on some conspiracy to reclassify the flu as COVID or to overstate the magnitude of the pandemic.

It’s also self-contradictory to suggest that COVID was nothing more than a severe flu variant, hyped by the government for ulterior motives. Even if the second half of that statement is true, why, if one believes our government is capable of such malevolence, would they declare a pandemic based on a phony pathogen when it’s just as easy and far more effective to release a genuine pathogen?

The data from the Center for Disease Control is unambiguous. It tracks three potentially fatal respiratory illnesses—pneumonia, influenza, and COVID. Their data from 2017 through the first half of 2024 shows a surge in pneumonia deaths during the COVID era. For the years 2017, 2018, and 2019, annual pneumonia deaths were consistently around 175,000 per year in the U.S. Zero COVID deaths were reported in those years. Then in 2020, pneumonia deaths rose sharply to 357,000 and reached an even higher 408,000 in 2021. In 2022, while down somewhat, pneumonia deaths were still higher than normal at 266,000, only leveling back down to a more typical 189,000 in 2023.

Meanwhile, COVID deaths hit 392,000 in 2020, 457,000 in 2021, and 244,000 in 2022, finally dropping to 75,000 in 2023. As COVID deaths rose, pneumonia deaths also rose. What about influenza?

The first thing to observe with the numbers for influenza is how low they are relative to pneumonia. They are also more variable. In 2017, there were 8,000 flu deaths, jumping to 14,000 in 2018, followed by 7,000 in 2019, and 9,000 in 2020. Reported flu deaths did drop to only 1,000 in 2021 before rising back to a more typical 9,000 in 2022 and 6,000 in 2023. But these numbers for the flu are orders of magnitude lower than those reported for pneumonia and COVID. So no, during the COVID era, the flu didn’t “disappear.” More to the point, neither did pneumonia.

The suspicion that reported deaths from the flu or from pneumonia may have been diminished during the COVID pandemic in order to make it appear that COVID deaths were more numerous than they actually were is based on alleged errors in classification. But as it turns out, just taking a look at the CDC’s weekly reporting on deaths from respiratory illnesses proves that if they were reclassifying pneumonia deaths as COVID deaths, they weren’t doing a very good job at it. Because the CDC data shows pneumonia deaths more than doubling in 2020 and 2021 compared to the three preceding years. Why would they leave so much fraud on the table if, in fact, they were fraudulently reclassifying deaths to inflate COVD numbers?

Another way to prove something horrible happened would be to look at reports showing deaths from all causes in the U.S. over the past several years. Needless to say, this is a harder data point to reclassify. We don’t have to do an autopsy to see if you had the COVID virus in your system. If you’re dead, you’re dead.

Using this logic, it is possible to compare the death rates since COVID came along to the death rates prior to COVID. To do this, I took CDC data on deaths from all causes for the years 2013 through 2019, then adjusting for population growth, plotted them as repeating 12-month cycles on a timeline that begins in January 2020 and runs through April 2024. On the chart, the grey line is based on how many people died in the U.S. per week based on the population-adjusted average from 2013 through 2019. These seven years of pre-COVID data were remarkably consistent, only deviating by a few percentage points. They go up in the winter months when more people die of pneumonia and flu, and drop every summer. Based on these extrapolations, the grey line therefore predicts how many people would have died each week over the past four years if COVID hadn’t come along.

The upper line on the chart shows actual deaths from all causes in the U.S. by week since January 2020, when the lines were converged. The spikes over these past 4.5 years are mostly mirroring the grey line—more people die in winter—with exceptions in the fall of 2020 and 2021, when COVID deaths surged anyway.

Underlying this graphic image are numbers that belie any possibility that we lived in normal times and COVID was a hoax. Sadly, and inexplicably, people we need to rely on for news that isn’t mainstream misinformation or fringe element lunacy are reinventing history. For this revisionism to come from people like Neil Oliver and Tucker Carlson is disappointing. During the four and a half years we’ve lived through since COVID came along, 12.4 million Americans have died. If we had been living in normal times, only 10.5 million Americans would have died. With a sample size as huge as the U.S. population, this extrapolation can be made with a high degree of accuracy, as is proven by the remarkable consistency in death statistics during the years 2013 through 2019.

What these numbers tell us is that since COVID came along, 1.9 million people died in excess of what would have been expected based on death rates in the preceding seven years. Of those, not quite 1.2 million deaths were attributable to COVID deaths, and another 500,000 can be attributed to elevated rates of death from pneumonia. The idea that COVID wasn’t a devastating pandemic merely because a handful of influential commentators say they don’t know anyone who died is ridiculous, and it damages the credibility of people we need to be credible.

The good news, however, is that COVID deaths and excess deaths both appear to be slowly fading away. Excess deaths in the U.S. in April 2024 were only 4 percent over what we might have predicted for that month based on pre-COVID death rates. That is the lowest it’s been since this all began. Who knows, maybe if our population totals reflected the mass migrations we’ve experienced since the beginning of the Biden presidency, the adjustments for population growth would yield an extrapolation with zero excess deaths. That is a possibility worth savoring, and perhaps one of the few upsides of Biden’s open borders.

Get the news corporate media won't tell you.

Get caught up on today's must read stores!

By submitting your information, you agree to receive exclusive AG+ content, including special promotions, and agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms. By providing your phone number and checking the box to opt in, you are consenting to receive recurring SMS/MMS messages, including automated texts, to that number from my short code. Msg & data rates may apply. Reply HELP for help, STOP to end. SMS opt-in will not be sold, rented, or shared.

About Edward Ring

Edward Ring is a senior fellow of the Center for American Greatness. He is also the director of water and energy policy for the California Policy Center, which he co-founded in 2013 and served as its first president. Ring is the author of Fixing California: Abundance, Pragmatism, Optimism (2021) and The Abundance Choice: Our Fight for More Water in California (2022).

Photo: Novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), people in white medical face mask. Concept of coronavirus quarantine vector illustration. Seamless pattern.

Notable Replies

  1. What hurt public trust in the government was not whether Covid was real or not, it was the inconsistency of governmental approach in its policies during the pandemic. Stupid and inconsistent decisions were made on which businesses could remain open and which had to close. In addition, there was the laughable decision on what public gatherings were okay, and which were forbidden----Church was forbidden, riots were not. And finally, it was the greatest inconsistency of all------US citizens were made to obey every inconsistent and capricious decision, but illegal invaders were not. What’s not to hate about the entirety of governmental parenting decisions?

  2. Covid exposed the federal bureaucracy as nothing special. They are not experts at making good decisions. Now, we know that a lot of their decision making was motivated by their financial and professional links to the Wuhan lab. Their initial panic is also explained by the fact that they were funding the gain of function research that likely created the most dangerous variants of that coronavirus. These career bureaucrats may be able to talk in detail on many subjects related to their fields of alleged specialty, but they have no special expertise for making good decisions. See also, Ukraine, Israel, Afghanistan, and immigration policy.

  3. Back in the 1930s, Hollywood did a pretty good job of expressing the public’s perception of government leaders. Will Rogers built an entire career on mocking the government in general and its leadership in particular. And almost every movie that depicted the press and leadership demonstrated the press’s cynical view of politicians----each of the remakes of The Front Page and His Girl Friday reflect that.

    Somewhere along the way----and I’m guessing it occurred around the start of World War II—the image of government as an intrepid. brave, and caring father figure began to emerge. The dangers of the Cold War added to this image as our leadership was portrayed as the only thing standing between us and the devilish Russkies.

    That image faded a bit with the appearance of dissenting camps over the necessity of preserving a small Asian nation that was once a French Colony. By Ronald Reagan’s time it was best expressed with his quip that the thing an American Citizen feared most was hearing the phrase-----“Hi, I’m from the government and I’m here to help”.

    But that healthy skepticism was lost again in the aftermath of 9/11. Such was the success in government agit-prop, American citizens became more than willing to exchange any freedom for a sense of security. Deep Staters and Bureaucrats realizing the power that could be accrued by playing on the fears of the public began constructing moats, bulwarks, and walls, while laying caltrops in the outer fields to protect their newfound power. And they did it well.

    They did the job so well that restricting freedom, as well as freedom of movement and association became child’s play.

    So, here we are today when trust in the government is at an all time low. But another change occurred as well. In the 1930s, the press was viewed as the protector of the little guy. In 2024, almost 100 years later, the press is viewed as the government’s protector.

    It seems we have no one left looking out for us. And that sucks. It doesn’t take much deep thinking, or the presentation of charts and graphs that say otherwise, to know that the government isn’t here to help. It is here to oppress, and the press can no longer be counted on to point that out.

  4. A couple of points Mr. Ring neglected to mention. First, in the second paragraph, Mr. Ring states that Tucker Carlson said he didn’t know anyone who got Covid, but that is not what Tucker said. Carlson said he didn’t know of anyone who died from it. That is a substantive difference that Mr. Ring and/or his copy editor obviously missed.

    The second point has to do with overall deaths for all ages (and sexes–both of them) between 18 and 64. This metric is charted by Insurance companies and is considered the gold standard (for obvious reasons–Life Insurance premiums, etc.). Deaths, not just at the upper end of the age range, but for all ages sky-rocketed during the Covid virus and vaccination years. I believe the figure I recall is something close to 40% above normal deaths per year for all ages–including those at the younger end of the age range.

    No less than Dr. Robert Malone–co-inventor of the mRNA vaccine delivery system–opined about this shocking statistic. Whatever one thinks of Tucker’s hyperbole surrounding the Covid pandemic, etc., I’m inclined to believe Dr. Malone’s opinion–especially since hyper-accurate actuarial tables are the bedrock of Insurance companies sustainability and profitability.

    Covid may have indeed accounted for an increase in deaths associated with pneumonia and other opportunistic age-related illnesses, but what about those in their '60s, or even their '50s? Or how about deaths for those in their '20s? Deaths were significantly higher for this age group in the Covid years even though accepted statistics do not capture an increase in deaths associated with Covid for this age group.


  5. Avatar for task task says:

    I have seen a lot of good related to the employment of vaccines and also considerable bad. Of course the Covid-19 vaccination was initially looked upon as benign and effective. Ultimately it turned out to be neither. Initially people rushed to get vaccinated? Ultimately they were forced to get vaccinated. The media, Big Pharma and the government were complicit. Now we know that even proponents such as Chis Cuomo, a strident pro vaccine media coconspirator, revealed he is suffering from a vaccine injury. He is the last person that needed to be vaccinated for a disease that rarely affects the young and healthy. You would never know that from listening to the CDC recommendations. The public is now aware that, because they were lied to, they were harmed and many are now sick and will die prematurely.

    Fauci lied and some people got sick and died. He had a lot of influence. What a way to end a great career. Yet to some he will always be the great “Lord Fauci”.

Continue the discussion at community.amgreatness.com


Avatar for edwardring Avatar for Maximus-Cassius Avatar for Everett_Brunson Avatar for task Avatar for Hector_Gapaw