About David A. Swanson

David A. Swanson is Edward A. Dickson Emeritus Professor of Sociology, University of California Riverside. He served as a member of the U. S. Census Bureau’s Scientific Advisory Committee for six years (2004-10) and chaired the committee for two years (2009-2010). In addition to serving as an expert witness and testifying before Congress, state legislatures and local government bodies, he has produced over 104 refereed sole- and co-authored journal articles and nine books, mainly dealing with demography. He also has edited or co-edited four additional books and Google Scholar shows more than 5,700 citations to his work. in addition to two Fulbright grants, he has received many other academic and professional grants and awards. Aided by the G.I. Bill, his B.Sc. is from Western Washington State College (now known as Western Washington University), and his Ph.D. and M.A. are from the University of Hawai’i. He also holds a Graduate Diploma in Social Sciences from the University of Stockholm. Swanson speaks Swedish reasonably well but his Finnish is so bad as to be embarrassing: "Se on huono."

By: David A. Swanson (30)

Been Vaccinated?

What is the probability of dying from COVID-19 among the un-vaccinated?

What is the probability of dying from COVID-19 among the un-vaccinated?

Out of “mortality curiosity” and with a lot of time on my hands, I calculated the probability of dying from COVID-19 within a year of being infected, for anyone aged 20 to 80. I looked specifically at the probability of death by COVID-19 among the un-vaccinated who become infected with COVID-19 vs. death among the vaccinated and unexposed who are subject to dying from all other possible causes. I used data from the “Hubei Study,” which collected information on COVID-19 deaths following hospital admissions in Wuhan, China. For comparison, I also calculated data on deaths from all other causes for anyone aged 20 to 80 who was not infected.

What I found was that until age 78, if you are un-vaccinated and become infected, the probability of dying from COVID-19 is higher than the probability of dying from any of the other potential causes of death. For example, if you are an un-vaccinated 20 year-old, and have just been infected with COVID-19, the probability of dying from COVID-19 within the next year is 10.1 times higher (0.00567 v. 0.00056) than that of a (vaccinated/unexposed) 20 year-old dying within the year from any of the other potential causes of death. At age 30, the probability is 7.78 times higher; at age 40 it is 5.57 times higher; at age 50 it is 3.36 times higher; at age 60, 2.22 times higher. At age 70, the probability of dying from COVID-19 within the next year for an un-vaccinated person just infected with COVID-19 is slightly higher (1.43 times) than the likelihood of a (vaccinated/unexposed) 70 year-old dying from any of the other potential causes of death over the next year. (0.55817 v. 0.38972) 

To summarize: If you are un-vaccinated and get infected, the probability of dying from COVID-19 starts high at age 20 and increases steadily with age. If you are vaccinated or avoid becoming infected, the  probability of dying from any other cause starts low at age 20, but increases at a faster rate as you age so that by age 78 all the other competing causes of death cross-over (no pun intended). This means that just like a vaccinated person, an un-vaccinated person is  more likely to die from something other than COVID-19 after age 78. However, if you are un-vaccinated, the question here is why keep COVID-19 on the list of potential causes of death?

The graph only goes to age 80, which, unlike the single year groupings from 20 to 80 (20, 21, 22, 23,…., 77, 78, 79, 80), is “open-ended.” This puts the probability of dying at 100 percent at some point beyond age 80. That is, you may live to 81 or 95 or 103, but at some age after 80, “all our times have come." Whether vaccinated or un-vaccinated, nobody gets out alive.

The Washington Department of Health is reporting that 72.7 percent of the state's population, aged five and over, are fully vaccinated, while only 68 percent in Whatcom County are fully vaccinated.

What’s on your vaccination card?"

About David A. Swanson

Posting Citizen Journalist • Member since Mar 31, 2020

David A. Swanson is Edward A. Dickson Emeritus Professor of Sociology, University of California Riverside. He served as a member of the U. S. Census Bureau’s Scientific Advisory Committee [...]

Randy Petty

Feb 25, 2022

The COVID Strategy America Hasn’t Really Tried

“ Compared with someone in their 20s, a person over 65 years old is not slightly more likely to die of COVID but at least 65 times more likely to die of COVID. Over age 75, they become 140 times more likely to die. Over age 85, they are 340 times more likely to die. No other basic fact of life matters as dramatically as age for COVID. Other common factors associated with risk—racediabetes, cancer, immunosuppression—make the disease deadlier by a factor of “only” two to four.”

See the chart in the article:  Rates of COVID-19 Deaths by Vaccination Status and Age Group, per 100k ( Nov 28-Dec 4 2021)

https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2022/02/vaccinate-old/622080/

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David A. Swanson

Feb 25, 2022

You are looking at age specific death rates in the Atlantic article you cite, which do not provide the probability of dying. For the latter, you need to modify the age specific death rate, which is usually done by creating a  “life table” or its equivalent. For details, I point you to chapter 7 in Methods of Demographic Analysis, 2nd Edition, by F. Yusuf, J. Martins, and D. A. Swanson (2014). Springer. (https://link.springer.com/book/10.1007/978-94-007-6784-3 ).

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Randy Petty

Feb 25, 2022

The way I read the chart I mentioned, was that during the week in late November last year ( possibly representative), boosted people over 65 died at a rate of less than one per 100k.
Unvaccinated people in the same age range died at 45 per 100k.
The other possible ways to die are still there, but the article is, among other things, indicating that age is much more important than diabetes,asthma etc in predicting who will die from Covid.  It’s also emphasizing the large difference in death rates between boosted and unvaccinated for those over 65.

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David A. Swanson

Feb 25, 2022

Yes, it is common in publich health to look at age-specific death rates and to construct various ratios to get an idea of relative mortality. However, measures strictly based on the age-specific death rate, do not provide the “conditional probability of dying,” where the condition is that one has reached a given age, (age x) and the probability is aimed at dying before you reach the next checkpoint (i.e., x + k).  The Kaiser-Permanente study on the mortality effects of smoking are similar in that they do not provide the (conditional) probability of dying. 

Friedman G., I. Tekawa, M. Sadler, and S. Sidney (1997). Smoking and mortality: The Kaiser Permanente Experience. pp. 477–499 in D. Shopl and D. Burns, L. Garfinkel, J. Samet (eds). Changes in Cigarette-Related Disease Risks and Their Implication for Prevention and Control. Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute.

In order to get the (conditional) probability of dying, the age-specific death rates needed to be modified. See 

D. A. Swanson, S. Chow, and T. Bryan (2020) “Constructing Life Tables from the Kaiser Permanente Smoking Study and Applying the Results to the Population of the United States.” (2020)  pp.115-152 in B. Jivetti and M. N. Hoque (eds.). Population Change and Public Policy. Springer B.V. Press. Dordrecht, Heidelberg, London, and New York. 

 

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Randy Petty

Feb 25, 2022

To the extent that I understand what you’re saying ( my problem, not yours), it sounds like at 73 I can start bar-hopping—covid or no covid, vaccinated or not.  😊   On the other hand, since I don’t smoke, only drink occasionally, eat healthy, exercise, keep up on all medical tests and vaccinations, I may fall outside those averages.

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David A. Swanson

Feb 25, 2022

Very few people fit the averages. Variance is a fact of living and that includes variance in age at death ( https://populationreview.com/taylors-law-and-the-relationship-between-life-expectancy-at-birth-and-variance-in-age-at-death-in-a-period-life-table/ )

As I wrote in the article, “This means that just like a vaccinated person, an un-vaccinated person is  more likely to die from something other than COVID-19 after age 78. However, if you are un-vaccinated, the question here is why keep COVID-19 on the list of potential causes of death?”  Your choice. 

See you at Tony’s in Custer next Friday? Maybe Loretta Lynn will show up for chicken and jo-jos and a couple of Rainiers.

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Randy Petty

Mar 01, 2022

Sorry to belabor this but I really want to understand.  With the indoor mask mandates going away, I want to assess the risks of some socializing.     So as you pass 70, (and speaking primarily of those vaccinated/boosted)  because there is a greater and greater liklihood of other things affecting you physically in very bad ways, the relative risk of that resulting from Covid goes down.  Or stated differently, there becomes less reason to totally isolate.  Even if all you do after 70 is pickup groceries at curbside, you’re still driving and you’re still old.
Now, you can make those other things more significant by smoking, drinking to excess, eating to excess, driving like a maniac, but all other things being equal, you have less reason to just stay home all of the time in an attempt to insulate yourself from Covid?

At the other end of things, the vaccinated/boosted 25-year-old is much less likely to die from those other old-age risks, so Covid stands out more.

Because of relatives next door at great risk from Covid, I’ve been trying to live more or less as if I had a cabin on top of Mt Baker.  Now I want to take “calculated risks” to live a bit more normally, and protect the relative by not visiting them in person unless I’m able to quarantine first.

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David A. Swanson

Mar 01, 2022

With the omicron variant, BA.2 poised to make the rounds, (https://www.al.com/news/2022/02/ba2-omicron-variant-2-new-covid-symptoms-reported.html ), I prefer to keep it from becoming one of the many other causes of death looming for somebody my age, so I am maintaining the same protocols (mask wearing, avoiding crowds, etc.) that I have been using for two years in an effort to reduce the risk of getting it and passing it on. When a clear picture emerges of its transmissability and effects I will revist this choice.

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Randy Petty

Mar 01, 2022

Sounds reasonable.  I think it depends on whether you’re enjoying life now—e.g. do you have a Covid pod (social circle of people living nearly identically).  If not, I think the calculus is different.

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Been Vaccinated?

By David A. SwansonOn Feb 24, 2022

What is the probability of dying from COVID-19 among the un-vaccinated?

9 comments, most recent 7 months ago

Income Inequality in Whatcom County

By David A. SwansonOn Feb 08, 2022

Income inequality is a national issue driving many social and health problems. This article explores income inequality in Whatcom County.

1 comment, most recent 7 months ago

The Cost of Trying to Help

By David A. SwansonOn Dec 12, 2021

How many patient-contact hours have been lost due to COVID-19 deaths of health care professionals?

3 comments, most recent 9 months ago

Broadband Access During a Pandemic: 2020 Census Results for the Hopi and Lummi Reservations.

By David A. SwansonOn Oct 11, 2021

What do the Hopi, the Lummi, broadband, and the Census have in common?

2 comments, most recent 11 months ago

The Census: Protecting Privacy versus Creating Useless Data

By David A. SwansonOn May 18, 2021

“Differential Privacy:” A statistical adjustment system that may render 2020 census population data unusable.

1 comment, most recent 1 year ago

The Thanksgiving Surge: How Fared Whatcom County?

By David A. SwansonOn Dec 12, 2020

Whatcom county - and Benton County - did better than expected in terms of the Covid-19 Post Thanksgiving surge

5 comments, most recent 1 year ago

Drilling Deeper into Whatcom County: Covid-19 & Political Orientation

By David A. SwansonOn Nov 19, 2020

In the three Whatcom County school districts carried by Trump-Pence the covid-19 infection rate is 1.4 times higher than found in the 4 districts carried by Biden-Harris.

3 comments, most recent 1 year ago

Did Trump Help Democrats take the 2020 election in Washington?

By David A. SwansonOn Nov 15, 2020

As is the case, nationwide, it appears that Trump assisted Democrats in carrying the 2020 presidential and gubernatorial elections in Washington

2 comments, most recent 1 year ago

Did Trump Help Democrats take the election?

By David A. SwansonOn Nov 07, 2020

Trump advocated behaviors that placed his followers at higher risk to being sickened and even dying from covid-19. Did a reduction in republican voters aid in the election of Joe Biden?

1 comment, most recent 1 year ago

The Last Stand

By David A. SwansonOn Oct 17, 2020

Only four US counties remain covid free, each of them rural. We discuss how the pandemic reached rural, isolated counties.

15 comments, most recent 1 year ago

COVID-19 Deaths in Whatcom County

By David A. SwansonOn Jul 26, 2020

Relative to the state’s other 38 counties, Whatcom is doing reasonably well in terms of COVID-19 deaths

2 comments, most recent 2 years ago

Republican-leaning states take the lead!

By David A. SwansonOn Jul 21, 2020

The 30 Republican-leaning states now lead in total COVID-19 cases

4 comments, most recent 2 years ago

Update on the COVID-19 Warning System for San Juan County

By David A. SwansonOn Jul 18, 2020

So far, so good for San Juan County. The July 4th holiday visitors have not led to either a “Yellow” or “Red” alert for covid-19 cases among its residents

Is “Being Republican” a Risk to One’s Health and the Health of Others?

By David A. SwansonOn Jul 03, 2020

Along with potential “super-spreader” venues, rates of interaction, and other factors, “being Republican” also could represent a COVID-19 risk factor.

6 comments, most recent 2 years ago

Revisiting the Estimation of Unconfirmed Cases of COVID-19 in Whatcom County

By David A. SwansonOn Jun 27, 2020

Authors find that their method produces estimates of unconfirmed cases consistent with an announcement by the CDC that there are ten times more cases than reported.

A Tale of 39 Counties: Re-opening Washington and Political Orientation

By David A. SwansonOn Jun 21, 2020

Where in Washington are the COVID-19 case increases higher? Republican-leaning counties or Democratic leaning counties?

12 comments, most recent 2 years ago

A Tale of Two Counties: Re-opening Skagit and Whatcom

By David A. SwansonOn Jun 16, 2020

Are politics driving new COVID-19 infections as Whatcom and Skagit counties reopen from the shutdown?

5 comments, most recent 2 years ago

Early-Warning Covid-19 Alert for San Juan County and Other Seasonal Resort Communities

By David A. SwansonOn Jun 02, 2020

Summer visitors are likely to bring COVID-19 to previously unaffected or lightly affected seasonal communities requiring a model for risk evaluation and adaptive responses.

6 comments, most recent 2 years ago

The Lack of Containment Measures: Does It Constitute Senicide?

By David A. SwansonOn May 07, 2020

Senicide is a term not oft used but it is making a resurgence in this time of pandemic.

3 comments, most recent 2 years ago

Monitoring the COVID-19 Pandemic in Benton County: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

By David A. SwansonOn May 04, 2020

Hotspots like the one in the Benton county in Washington may prove to have a higher level, chronic COVID-19 infection rate as the governor attempts to re-open the economy.