Despite another spike in Covid, deaths remain low

“In general, Covid survivors are much, much less sick than even this winter,” the doctor said. Megan Rennie is an emergency physician at Brown University. “It’s like a different disease for people, except for people who are really old, unvaccinated, or immunocompromised.”

Inequalities in access to booster shots and antiviral pills also put some Americans at higher risk. Blacks and Hispanics eligible for boosters have got shots at lower rates than white people, reflecting what some epidemiologists describe as limited efforts in some states to place boosters within easy reach. Patients who do not have primary care physicians or who live far from pharmacies may also have difficulty getting antiviral pills.

The number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients in the country continues to rise, epidemiologists say, making a gradual increase in deaths likely. It is unclear how hard the wave will hit less vaccinated regions, such as the South, where immunity from past infections has also grown.

“Unfortunately, vaccination rates in many southern states are among the lowest in the country,” said Jason Salemi, professor of epidemiology at the University of South Florida. “But there is certainly a lot of immunity built up as a result of prior infection.”

While fewer cases are becoming fatal, the unprecedented number of infections this winter and spring has created serious problems. In the United States, one in five adults who survived Covid before the age of 65 has dealt with some version of long-term Covid. a recent study found. Many missed work, including doctors, whose absence this spring periodically strained hospitals, which already had staffing problems.

Dr. Stanford’s Karan said he continued to have symptoms from his January Covid bout until April. A month later, he became infected again. Last week, when the suboption surge hit California, his team of five doctors at one of the hospitals where he works was reduced to two due to the lack of Covid, he said, causing delays in consultations for some patients.