DeSantis’s anti-vax campaign paid for in blood?Yale COVID study finds much higher death rates among Republicans

death rates
death rates
Gov. Ron DeSantis with Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo in their “Buck the CDC” video on Feb. 24, 2022.

By Dan Christensen,

A new Yale University School of Public Health study of excess death rates during the COVID-19 pandemic found “substantially higher” death rates among registered Republicans when compared to registered Democrats.

Almost all the difference was “concentrated in the period after vaccines were widely available.”

“Overall, the excess death rate for Republicans was 5.4 percentage points (pp), or 76 percent higher than the excess death rate for Democrats. Post-vaccines, the excess death rate gap between Republicans and Democrats widened from 1.6 pp (22% of the Democrat excess death rate) to 10.4 pp (153% of the Democrat excess death rate.),” says the study’s abstract. “The gap in excess death rates between Republicans and Democrats is concentrated in counties with low vaccination rates and only materializes after vaccines became widely available.”

COVID-19 has caused more than one million deaths in the U.S., and Florida has the 13th highest death rate in the nation and the third most total deaths, 81,910 – behind only California and Texas.

The study, using data from Florida and Ohio, the only two states from which voter registration information could be obtained, was begun after political affiliation “emerged as one potentially significant risk factor, amid evidence that Republican-leaning counties have had higher COVID-19 death rates than Democrat-leaning counties,” the non-peer reviewed study says.


Published late last month by the nonprofit National Bureau of Economic Research seeking comment and discussion, the study attempts to drill down to the individual level. No persons are named, no fingers pointed. Yet it serves as a tacit indictment of Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’s well-publicized anti-vaccine campaign – a campaign the study by the governor’s alma mater suggests was paid for in blood, more frequently by members of his own political party.

death rates

“Overall, our results suggest that political party affiliation only became a substantial risk factor in Ohio and Florida after vaccines were widely available,” wrote study authors Jacob Wallace, Jason L. Schwartz and Paul Goldsmith-Pinkham. “Lack of individual-level vaccination status limits our ability to draw broad conclusions, but the results suggest that the well-documented differences in vaccination attitudes and reported uptake between Republicans and Democrats have already had serious consequences for the severity and trajectory of the pandemic in the United States.

“If these differences in vaccination by political party affiliation persist, then the higher excess death rate among Republicans is likely to continue through the subsequent stages of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the study concludes.

The Yale study follows research released by Brown University’s School of Public Health in May that found Florida had more vaccine-preventable deaths, 29,200, than every state except Texas, 29,773.

The Brown study found Ohio had the fourth-most vaccine-preventable deaths, 15,875.


After initially promoting coronavirus vaccines early last year, DeSantis made an apparent personal political calculation that soon saw him become a darling of the anti-vax crowd. Under the banner of ‘protecting Florida jobs,’ DeSantis obtained from the Republican-dominated Legislature and then signed into law measures that prohibited private employers from requiring their employees to obtain COVID-19 vaccines or face heavy fines; blocked local governments and “educational institutions” from requiring vaccines; barred school districts from having face mask policies or quarantining “healthy” students; and allowed students and parents to sue “violating” school districts.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine

In contrast, Ohio’s Republican governor, Mike DeWine, relied heavily – and publicly – on public health experts for how to address COVID-19 in his state. DeWine has also used the Ohio National Guard and Ohio’s State Defense Force across the state to augment testing facilities and nonclinical hospital support.

In September 2021, DeSantis appointed vaccine skeptic Dr. Joseph Ladapo as Florida’s Surgeon General. Ladapo, who has promoted two “treatments’’ the FDA has said should not be given to COVID patients – ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine – has embraced and sought to justify the governor’s political positions.

For example, two days after taking office, Ladapo issued a rule that removed quarantine and mask decisions from school officials and gave them to parents. In February, DeSantis issued a press release and video titled “Buck the CDC” (Centers for Disease Control) in which he and Ladapo continued to push back “on unscientific corporate masking” and offering other recommendations to physicians as to how they should deal with their patients.

Ladapo used his prestigious perch again on Oct. 7 to issue his own controversial “guidance” about the safety of Messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines used by both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines based on an “analysis” by authors who are not identified by name or affiliation. Ladapo said the non-peer reviewed study found “an 84 percent increase in the relative incidence of cardia-related deaths among males 18-39 years old within 28 days following mRNA vaccination” and he recommended individuals in that age group not take the vaccine.


It didn’t take long for Ladapo to take heavy fire. Florida Politics on Oct. 9: Twitter flags anti-vaccine guidance from Joseph Ladapo as misinformation.Here’s an Oct. 10 story from the Tampa Bay Times: “Scientists question Florida’s advice against COVID mRNA vaccines for some men”. Oct. 11 from Politico: Medical experts reject Florida surgeon general’s Covid-19 vaccine guidance

Here’s what the CDC said in March about the efficacy of those mRNA vaccines. “Receiving 2 or 3 doses of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine was associated with a 90% reduction in risk for COVID-19 – associated IMV (invasive mechanical ventilation) or death. Protection of 3 mRNA vaccine doses during the period of Omicron predominance was 94%.”

The Yale University School of Public Health’s study of the political risk factors of dying from COVID-19 focused on excess death rates. Excess deaths are those above the expected deaths due to seasonality, geographic location, party affiliation and age.

To calculate those rates, the study says it used 577,659 deaths of individuals linked to their 2017 voting records in Ohio and Florida who died at age 25 or older between January 2018 and December 2021. Excess death rates are the percentage increases in deaths above the expected.

The study report notes that from 2018 to the first months of 2020, excess death rates for Republicans and Democrats were “similar and centered around zero. Both groups experienced a similar large spike in excess deaths in the winter of 2020-2021. However, in the summer of 2021 – after vaccines were widely available – the Republican excess death rate rose to nearly double that of Democrats, and this gap widened further in the winter of 2021.”

The study’s authors noted three limitations, including having no data about an individual’s vaccination status and incomplete mortality data. “While detailed and recent, it only includes approximately 80 percent of deaths in the US. However, excess death patterns in our data are similar to those in other reliable sources.”

“Third, our study is based on data from the only states where we could obtain voter registration information (Florida and Ohio); hence, our results may not generalize to other states,” the study says.

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Latest comments

  • In the meantime, consider the source. “Yale” has been removed from being considered for a job with SCOTUS appointees due to being liberal biased, so here we go again, a biased article from a biased source all from a biased new outlet.

    When are you guys going to start reporting on the truth?

  • I wonder how Ladapo commutes from his reported Clearwater Beach apartment to his jobs in Gainsville and Tallahassee. Having both a State job and a UF job gives him quite a salary. His name in his native Nigerian language means “wealth has been mixed together”.

  • There is a reason he is called DEATHSANTIS. He is directly responsible for these Covid deaths.

  • I can’t remember my political party ever being on a questionnaire. Please stop divisive rhetoric.

  • Yale has an active chapter of the Federalist Society and counts among its graduates Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Brett Kavanaugh. In any case, seems vapid thinking to reject anything that come from Yale just because of one wacko judge’s pronouncement.

  • The whole bunch including Cabinet and appointees will be updating and peddling their resumes come Nov 9 for new gigs in January.

  • I’m ok with this…it’s natural selection at its finest. Thanks Darwin.

  • So they look at political party and death rates…. Literally means nothing since they did not have enough information for individual vaccine status. Florida also has A LOT of elderly people who are republican, causing a higher death rate for this party. Correlation does not equal causation… isn’t that what all the scientists say? This is honestly junk science meant to push a narrative that republicans are not “smart”. Do better.

  • As a “watchdog ” paper , you should be looking at the documents released by court order by pfizer and others by Modera and looking into whistleblowers statements before publishing another “Vaccines are safe” article.


    Hi Peter, Sorry for not being at all clear in asking a question:

    The question was to have been if Cspan’s Booktv InDepth author Michael Updegrove “had heard of Woodward’s tapes of Trump admitting COVID19 guilt?

    Michael in Broward county, FL

    Peter – Also, thank you, I learned that leaving out a nerdy reference to evolution in my “spiel” doesn’t work, it’s more necessary than nerdy. Big-sigh.

    Pointing out how a still-universal 1860’s “survival of fittest” mentality affects education & Healthcare… without pointing out that “survival of fittest” statement is false, and that evolution works by cooperation as much as competition and does NOT optimize – just doesn’t work, since the obvious response invoked is, “Yeah, of course, “survival of fittest” affects everything, it’s how the world works, after all, right?” Sigh… no, it is n-o-t how everything, the world, or evolution works. Period. Sigh. Now I know, nerdy is needed.

    Also – Thank you Peter –
    After hearing you opine on libertarianism, I will hence-forth (also) be more specific and nerdy in pointing out the difference between “regular” libertarianism and “hyper-libertarianism.”

    “Hyper-Libertarianism’s” extreme anti-goverment, “only short-term self-interest matters,” position is fundamentally seditionist, by definition.

    RE: InDepth BookTV caller Michael in Broward County, FL who asked author Mark Updegrove to come speak to to his schoolboard, 6th biggest in US, & to use his voice to counter the Trump-Azar Desantis-Ladapo COVID19 Elder Grandparent Genocide of 500,000+ people according to the National Science Foundation.

    Historians like author will write the last lines:

    (1) Nationwide 500,000+ mostly elderly died needlessly. This is COVID19 GRANDPARENT GENOCIDE – There are 40,000+ people needlessly dead but for criminal incompetence in Florida, one of the worst States. Republican dominated counties and States suffer dramatically higher deaths, from a huge 50% worse at 1.5× higher up to 2-3× higher!

    (2) The US suffers a Eugenics-bias to see EVERYTHING as a “survival of fittest” competitive game, winnowing Health & Education Winners f/Losers thanks to Galton & Herbert Spencer’s 1860’s false interpretation of the then-new Science of Evolution to justify SLAVERY with Spencer’s “Survival of Fittest” & Galton’s “Eugenics;”

    (3) Every Washington Think Tank, both sides, FALSELY think Evolution Optimizes (false) and that evolution is synonymous with Competition (false, Cooperation is key);

    (4) Desantis, Azar & Trump *ADMIT* On !VIDEO! to using K-12 & Univ. kids as Smallpox Blankets to increase Herd Immunity in survivors;

    (5) this is the *LITERAL* definition of EUGENICS & GENOCIDE and is the SECOND US Government sponsored Genocide against the most vulnerable of its own people! Yes?

    So… Every HISTORIAN now alive will eventually be asked by their progeny, what did you write of during the Great COVID19 Elder Grandparent Genocide of the 2020’s? How many historians alive during Hitler’s genocide, or Rwanda-Tutse, or the “trail of tears,” had the exact same regrets every historian now alive that hadn’t already written powerfully and directly of America’s, greatest-ever stumble (ie: and crime against humanity).

    This is especially important because by proxy, the right or wrongness of governance by a popular democracy greatest-ever stumble.

    Historians (all), this needs to be faced – Yes?

  • So… Every HISTORIAN now alive will eventually be asked by their progeny, what did you write of during the Great COVID19 Elder Grandparent Genocide of the 2020’s? How many historians alive during Hitler’s genocide, or Rwanda-Tutse, or the “trail of tears,” had the exact same regrets every historian now alive that hadn’t already written powerfully and directly of America’s, greatest-ever stumble (ie: and crime against humanity).

    This is the greatest-ever stumble and crime against humanity in modern times by a modern democratic nation, by the USA.

    By proxy, this will be what governance by populist Democracies will be judged by.

    Historians (all), this needs to be faced – Yes?

  • So… This is the greatest-ever stumble and crime against humanity in modern times by a modern democratic nation, by the USA.

    By proxy, this will be what governance by populist Democracies will be judged by.

    Historians (all), this needs to be faced – Yes?

  • Ladapo also was given tenure at UF. DeSantimonious is indoctrinating. He is like Trump, everything he accuses others of, he is already doing himself. He is a tyrant and a bully. On the 8th day he was created by God to protect the world, according to his ad.

  • I have to laugh at the commentors who are trashing Yale for having a liberal bias. Where did DeSantis go to college? YALE!

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