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Reporting by Will Huntsberry and Jesse Marx

The Covid-19 vaccine has led to dramatic reductions in death. The number of San Diegans who died related to Covid fell from roughly 4,200 in the pandemic’s first year to roughly 2,200 in the second year, after the vaccine became widely available.

In year one, deaths were concentrated in non-White, low-income parts of the county. But now, that is changing.

Voice of San Diego logged and analyzed every Covid-related death certificate over the first two years of the pandemic to begin to understand how the advent of the vaccine, as well as other factors, are leading to changing death rates.

Our findings show that while death rates tended to go down in most places, the way deaths are distributed has changed significantly.

Latinos, for instance, were more than four times as likely to die as Whites during the first year of the pandemic, according to age-adjusted death rates calculated by Voice. That gap fell by half during the pandemic’s second year.

Political affiliation was also a factor. A comparison of death certificates and voter files reveals that Republicans and independents were much more likely to die than Democrats as time went on.


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These stories are part of an ongoing investigative series.
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The Data

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Made with Flourish

This series is supported by the Data-Driven Reporting Project.
To request access to our data for research or reporting purposes email: or

Year One: Covid-19’s Death Toll

View the Year One project page.

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