Health Care

Deaths linked to COVID-19 are undercounted

Deaths linked to COVID-19 are undercounted”

The large spike in deaths in April 2020 corresponds to the coronavirus outbreak in the Northeast, after which the number of excess deaths decreased regularly and substantially until July, when it started to increase again. That allows statisticians like me to assess whether the observed number of deaths looks unusual compared to what we expect to see.

Earlier reports have suggested Arkansas, like most states, has underreported deaths related to COVID-19. The certificate is submitted to the local health department and the details are reported to the National Center for Health Statistics. Currently, heart disease is the leading cause of death, followed by cancer. COVID-19 was a documented cause of only 67% of these excess deaths.

So, looking at what happened over the past three years, the CDC projects what might have been. Through September, that gives 279,700 deaths above what was expected. Even using that threshold as a very conservative standard means there were at least 224,173 excess deaths.

A graph of this data clearly shows that the number of deaths has continued from mid-March 2020 until today.

In Texas, for example, there were 100,951 deaths over that five month period.

The researchers used death data and population counts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from 2014 to 2020 for all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Per capita, Spain was the hardest hit by excess deaths during this period, an increase of 38%. This increase in excessive deaths is due to the summer outbreaks in the south and west.

"Excess deaths attributed to causes other than COVID-19 could reflect deaths from unrecognized or undocumented infection with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 or deaths among uninfected patients resulting from disruptions produced by the pandemic", the authors wrote in their study. Mortality in 2020 is clearly different from the previous years' regular patterns, with substantial increases and unusual trends.

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According to a study published on Wednesday, deaths directly or indirectly attributable to the first wave of Covid-19 infections in 21 rich countries earlier this year averaged 20 percent above government numbers.

The study comes as experts warn of a third peak in confirmed coronavirus cases in the US - the first striking about April 10, the second by July 19 and the third about October 13, according to The New York Times. But neither of these theories is true.

He and his co-authors also point to the fact that despite the high fatality rates in NY as it became the pandemic's epicenter in the spring, the death toll fell sharply after lockdowns, and the city had fewer excess deaths unaccounted for by COVID-19. What is behind these additional deaths is not yet clear. Others believe that, because the pandemic has changed life so drastically, the increase in COVID-19-related deaths is probably offset by decreases from other causes. What we are starting to learn is that it is likely some of the two.

USA coronavirus deaths are likely understated, and the United States has relatively high COVID-19 mortality compared to 18 similar countries, a pair of recent studies published by the Journal of the American Medical Association shows. The increase in Alzheimer disease/dementia deaths coincided with the spring and summer surges of coronavirus deaths. Some people delay medical treatments for fear of contracting the coronavirus.

The U.S. noticed 20% extra deaths than anticipated from March to August, 67% of which have been attributed to COVID-19, in accordance with new analysis.

Bilinski and Emanuel suggest that multiple factors may have contributed to US death rates during the pandemic, including weak public health infrastructure and inconsistent pandemic response in the U.S.

Whatever the cause, this pandemic has resulted in significantly more deaths than usual - and it's not over yet.

While the COVID-19 death rates in the UK, Spain and Belgium swelled well beyond those in the USA over the course of the entire pandemic, they fell precipitously by May and June.

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