During the coronavirus pandemic so far, there have been 20% more deaths than is normally expected from March 1 to August 1 in the United States – with Covid-19 officially accounting for about two-thirds of them, according to The new research was published Monday in the medical journal JAMA.
“Although the total number of US deaths has been very consistent from year to year, US deaths increased by 20% over March-July 2020,” according to the study, written by Dr. Steven Woolf and colleagues at the University of Virginia Commonwealth School of Medicine and Yale School of Public Health.
“Covid-19 is the documented cause of only 67% of these excess deaths,” write the investigators.
The researchers analyzed mortality data from the National Center for Health Statistics and the US Census Bureau. In all, there were 1,336,561 deaths in the United States between March 1 and August 1, 2020, the study found – marking a 20% increase compared to what would normally be expected.
“Contrary to the skeptics who claim that the deaths from COVID-19 are bogus or much smaller than what we hear in the news, our research and many other studies on the same subject show the opposite,” Woolf, a professor at the VCU School. of Medicine, said in a news release on Monday.
“Some people who have never been exposed to the virus may die from the disruption caused by the pandemic,” added Woolf. “This includes people with acute emergencies, chronic illnesses such as diabetes that is not properly treated, or emotional crises that lead to overdoses or suicides.”
New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Louisiana, Arizona, Mississippi, Maryland, Delaware, Rhode Island and Michigan are the ten states with the highest per capita excess death rates. The absolute increase in mortality varied from 22% in Rhode Island and Michigan to 65% in New York.
New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts – the three states with the highest death rates – account for 30% of the excess US deaths, but have the shortest epidemics, according to the researchers.
“The states that experienced an acute spike in April (and reopened later) had a shorter epidemic that returned to their early May, while states that reopened earlier saw a more protracted increase in excess deaths that extended into the season. hot, “write the researchers.
Covid-19 accounts for about two-thirds of excess deaths in the US
Of the 225,530 excess deaths, 150,541 – or 67% of them – were attributed to Covid-19.
The analysis found that there was an increase in deaths related to causes other than Covid-19, including the US death rate for heart disease, which increased between the weeks ending March 21 and April 11, “driven by a spring surge in Covid-19 cases, write the researchers.
Death rates from Alzheimer’s disease and dementia have more than doubled, the researchers found. First between the weeks ending March 21 and April 11, and then between the weeks ending June 6 and July 25 – “coinciding with the summer surge in sunbelt state”.
“Some states have greater difficulty than others in containing community spread, causing a protracted increase in excess mortality that continues well into the summer,” the researchers wrote.
They also added that excess deaths attributed to something other than Covid-19 could be a reflection of deaths from unknown or undocumented cases or deaths among uninfected patients facing disruption caused by the pandemic.
This study does have several limitations, including relying on preliminary data, inaccurate death certificates and assumptions applied to the model.
But overall, “these deaths reflect the true size of the death toll from the Great Pandemic of 2020,” Dr. Howard Bauchner, editor-in-chief of JAMA, and Dr. Phil Fontanarosa, executive editor of JAMA, wrote in an editorial accompanying the new study on Monday.
They wrote: “These deaths far exceed the number of US deaths from several armed conflicts, such as the Korean War and Vietnam War, and deaths from the 2009 H1N1 (swine flu) pandemic, and are close to the number of deaths from World War II. “
The death rate from the US coronavirus is high compared to other countries
The United States has experienced high death rates from the coronavirus during the pandemic, even when compared to other countries with high COVID-19 mortality rates, according to a separate study also published Monday in JAMA.
Alyssa Bilinski, PhD candidate at Harvard University, and Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, vice chancellor of global initiatives and professor at the University of Pennsylvania, compared the death rates from the US coronavirus through September 19 with those of 18 other countries with varying pandemic responses.
The researchers found that after May 10, the US had more deaths per 100,000 people than other “high mortality” countries included in the comparison, such as France and Sweden.
Countries with high mortality rates have more than 25 deaths per 100,000 people, and include the United States, the Netherlands, France, Sweden, Italy, Britain, Spain and Belgium.
The US has fared better than some countries with high death rates, but only in the early stages of the pandemic. Comparisons in the study show that if the US had a death rate comparable to France from May 10, it would have had 96,763 fewer deaths.
Countries with moderate mortality, with fewer than 5 to 25 deaths per 100,000 people, include Norway, Finland, Austria, Denmark, Germany, Israel, Switzerland and Canada.
Bilinski and Emanuel note that if the US had a death rate comparable to Canada since the start of the pandemic, 117,622 would have died less.
Bilinski and Emanuel categorized South Korea, Japan and Australia as countries with low mortality, with less than 5 deaths from the coronavirus per 100,000 people. If the US had a death rate comparable to Australia since the start of the pandemic, it would have had 187,661 fewer deaths, the study shows.
‘Few people will forget the Great Pandemic of 2020’
This study has several limitations. One limitation of the study includes differences in risk of death between countries. For example, “the US population is younger but has more comorbidities than any other country,” write the investigators.
Bilinski and Emanuel suggest that a variety of factors may have contributed to the US death rate during the pandemic, including a weak public health infrastructure and inconsistent pandemic response in the US.
JAMA editors, Bauchner and Fontanarosa, wrote in their editorial: “Few people will forget the Great Pandemic of 2020, where and how they lived, how it substantially changed their lives, and for many, the huge loss of life that has taken place. it caused. “