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Opinion
Justin Fox

How the Pandemic Ripped a Hole in Working-Age America

Lower vaccination rates among adults aged 25-64 have shifted the demographics of Covid-19’s death toll.

The overwhelming majority of working-age Covid deaths are among the unvaccinated.

The overwhelming majority of working-age Covid deaths are among the unvaccinated.

Photographer: Ringo Chiu/AFP

Deaths among working-age Americans were up more than 40% over the pre-pandemic norm last summer and fall, the chief executive officer of an Indiana-based insurance company said late last month. His assertion has been reverberating around social media since, inspiring a much-shared Twitter thread that attributed it to vaccine side-effects until its author (to his credit) realized he’d misunderstood the data and deleted the whole thing, and a much-mocked tweet by Republican U.S. Rep. Jim Banks that “This is a catastrophe and we need to figure out why it’s happening.”

What’s happening is, mainly, a pandemic — the toll of which is not being fully reflected in Covid-19 death numbers, as OneAmerica Financial Partners CEO J. Scott Davison explained in a Dec. 30 video news conference (it’s all on YouTube) organized by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce. “The pandemic-related deaths are much larger than what you’re seeing in the news as the official specific Covid deaths, where Covid was the proximate cause of death on the death certificate,” said Davison, who has been observing the phenomenon through the lens of his company’s life insurance business. “What we’re seeing is that people get Covid, they kind of recover, and then they die from some sort of disease mechanism that was impacted by the fact that they got Covid in the first place.”