INDIANAPOLIS — In the 22 months since the first known COVID-19 death in Indiana, more than 20,000 Hoosiers have now died from the virus.

This January has already been the fifth deadliest month in terms of COVID-19 in Indiana. As of Jan. 24, 1,265 people have died from COVID-19 this month.

”There have been a significant number of deaths in January, no question about that,” said Dr. Shaun Grannis, the Vice President of Data and Analytics at the Regenstrief Institute.

Grannis said there is a silver lining to the most recent numbers, as we see record high case numbers in this omicron-fueled wave, we aren’t seeing new records in daily deaths. 

”Which speaks to some of the evidence we’ve been seeing that Omicron appears to produce less severe symptoms,” Grannis said.

Grannis said a less severe Omicron is only part of the reason, though.

”We have many more tools in our tool kit now,” Grannis said.

From vaccines to COVID pills and new strategies on treating the virus, Grannis said we know much more now than earlier on in the pandemic. Still, Dr. Ram Yeleti said this doesn’t mean omicron isn’t something to be worried about.

“Even if it is a milder version you are still going to have some people that are going to succumb to the disease,” said Yeleti, the Chief Physician Executive at Community Health Network.

Yeleti said comorbidities like diabetes, being overweight and hypertension are contributing factors to many of these deaths, but so is being unvaccinated.

”The vast majority, 80% to 90% that are dying, are unvaccinated and so it’s still a pandemic of unvaccinated,” he said.

As the death count passes 20,000, Yeleti said it’s frustrating to think of the deaths that could have been prevented through vaccination.

”The vaccines is our way out,” he said.

As for the current surge, Grannis said we’re not through the deadliest days yet.

”I’m expecting for the next two to three weeks we’ll see those death statistics, those mortality statistics, continue to rise,” he said.