Health & Wellbeing

CDC reports 300,000 excess deaths in US so far this year

CDC reports 300,000 excess dea...
Only two-thirds of the excess death rate this year is directly attributed to COVID-19, suggesting the true mortality rate of the pandemic is higher than the direct count
Only two-thirds of the excess death rate this year is directly attributed to COVID-19, suggesting the true mortality rate of the pandemic is higher than the direct count
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Only two-thirds of the excess death rate this year is directly attributed to COVID-19, suggesting the true mortality rate of the pandemic is higher than the direct count
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Only two-thirds of the excess death rate this year is directly attributed to COVID-19, suggesting the true mortality rate of the pandemic is higher than the direct count
Percentage change in the weekly number of deaths in 2020 relative to average in the same weeks during 2015–2019, by age group — United States, 2015–2019 and 2020
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Percentage change in the weekly number of deaths in 2020 relative to average in the same weeks during 2015–2019, by age group — United States, 2015–2019 and 2020
Percentage change in the weekly number of deaths in 2020 relative to average numbers in the same weeks during 2015–2019, by race and Hispanic ethnicity — United States, 2015–2019 and 2020
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Percentage change in the weekly number of deaths in 2020 relative to average numbers in the same weeks during 2015–2019, by race and Hispanic ethnicity — United States, 2015–2019 and 2020
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A new report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says nearly 300,000 more deaths than expected have occurred in the United States so far in 2020. Only two-thirds of these “excess deaths” are directly attributed to COVID-19, suggesting the real death toll of the pandemic is likely higher than the confirmed mortality numbers.

From year to year, overall mortality rates in the United States (and other countries around the world) are generally remarkably consistent. Excess deaths is a metric often used to evaluate the impact of unusual events, and it calculates how many extra deaths occurred above the expected average.

“Measures of excess deaths have been used to estimate the impact of public health pandemics or disasters, particularly when there are questions about underascertainment of deaths directly attributable to a given event or cause,” the CDC explains in its latest report.

Using provisional data, the report estimates the number of excess deaths that have occurred in the United States between late January and October 3 this year to be 299,028. Up to the same date, the report notes only 198,081 of those deaths are directly attributed to COVID-19. So over one-third of excess deaths so far this year have not been directly associated with COVID-19.

At this point it is difficult to attribute causes to this large volume of non-COVID-19 excess mortality. However, the CDC report does suggest it may be indicative of, among other things, some misclassified COVID-19 related deaths.

“… estimates of excess deaths attributed to COVID-19 might underestimate the actual number directly attributable to COVID-19, because deaths from other causes might represent misclassified COVID-19–related deaths or deaths indirectly caused by the pandemic,” the report states. “Specifically, deaths from circulatory diseases, Alzheimer disease and dementia, and respiratory diseases have increased in 2020 relative to past years, and it is unclear to what extent these represent misclassified COVID-19 deaths or deaths indirectly related to the pandemic (e.g., because of disruptions in health care access or utilization).”

As speculated in the report, a number of the excess deaths seen in the United States so far this year may be indirectly related to the pandemic. Concerns have been raised that many people are putting general health care treatments on hold due to either disruptions in access to health care or fear of attending hospitals during a viral pandemic.

Percentage change in the weekly number of deaths in 2020 relative to average in the same weeks during 2015–2019, by age group — United States, 2015–2019 and 2020
Percentage change in the weekly number of deaths in 2020 relative to average in the same weeks during 2015–2019, by age group — United States, 2015–2019 and 2020

Studies have already cited significant drops this year in cancer diagnoses relative to prior years. Other research is revealing opioid overdoses, already nearing record levels in early 2020, have risen even further in response to the pandemic.

The age and race trends in the CDC report also reveal how the pandemic is disproportionately hitting certain demographic groups. Graphs displaying weekly deaths relative to average numbers in the same weeks from previous years show excess death higher in Hispanic, Black and Asian communities compared to White mortality rates.

Percentage change in the weekly number of deaths in 2020 relative to average numbers in the same weeks during 2015–2019, by race and Hispanic ethnicity — United States, 2015–2019 and 2020
Percentage change in the weekly number of deaths in 2020 relative to average numbers in the same weeks during 2015–2019, by race and Hispanic ethnicity — United States, 2015–2019 and 2020

Age demographics suggest the excess deaths are mostly occurring in older age groups. However, there was a notable spike in excess deaths for 25 to 44 year olds during the July COVID-19 wave. This is a reminder COVID-19 is not only dangerous to older demographics.

Earlier in October researchers from the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine looked ahead, modeling likely excess deaths to the end of 2020. The study suggested by the end of 2020 the United States can expect to exceed 400,000 excess deaths.

Source: CDC

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9 comments
VincentWolf
IN read in another article that there are 550,000 unexplained deaths above the 'norm' so this 300,000 is low balling it.,
usugo
you can do the calculation yourself, with a bit of effort and knowing how to use excel
data source: CDC; period: Feb1-Oct17
-officially listed COVID19 deaths: 210k
-Excess deaths: 300k-335k*
as compared to same period for years 2015-18 (adjusted for demographic increase)
*380k-416k if you consider 210k coronavirus deaths were indeed recorded Oct06. And likely still under counted.
In Florida for instance, there have been so far about 28k extra deaths, but "only" 16k official covid-19 deaths.
Nobody
Anyone interested in the Johns Hopkins report that 250,000 deaths are caused EVERY YEAR by medical errors? Some reports estimate it at 400,000+. Evidently not the CDC or the politicians or the media. That data isn't politically useful when it comes to votes and power.
zr2s10
"Concerns have been raised that many people are putting general health care treatments on hold due to either disruptions in access to health care or fear of attending hospitals during a viral pandemic."
Exactly this. Heart attack deaths are through the roof, even though deaths from heart attack in the ER have dropped dramatically. Doctors won't see you in office, treatments are being deferred, people are afraid to go to the ER. In the end, I think indirect deaths are going to outweigh Covid caused deaths.
Daishi
@Nobody Medical errors are the 3rd leading cause of death in US (behind heart disease and cancer) but that doesn't invalidate the severity of COVID in any way. If there was a vaccine for "medical error" I'm sure someone would be working on it but the best thing we can do is try to fix health care which is something politicians speak about. Humans (and machines) make mistakes but few people want to draw attention to their mistakes. There would be fewer medical errors if they were listed as a cause of death on death certificates and tracked by hospitals as a metric to improve but legal liability would never allow them to admit wrong doing so openly because every family who lost grandma to "medical error" rather than one of her underlying health conditions would be on the phone with a team of lawyers the next day and medical costs would just increase because every medical doctor would need a team of lawyers and paralegals assisting them for the red tape it would create in the industry. Every time you walk into a doctors office more than 50% of your cost would be towards the crazy malpractice insurance they would need to carry in order to legally talk to you. A better way to address the issue is probably by improving doctor/nurse patient ratios, improving the way medical records are documented and shared, and making sure more people have health insurance.
piperTom
The "real death toll of the pandemic"? Define "real"! The tragic deaths directly caused by COVID19 have been amplified by a general public panic and by a totally political trap called lock-down. The panic was largely due to intense media coverage of early (and ridiculous) modeling, projecting vast numbers of deaths. This, in turn, led to cowardly politicians stopping people from doing the business of living, including seeking treatment for other illness, cancer screening, and other checkups. The CDC, being a political body, can't even dream of investigating these "other deaths".
Signguy
Much could have been avoided if we responded the same as with the Flu; Heard Immunity and Hydroxychloroquine would have save millions of lives and the economy of the world would still be good. We believed too many LIERS.
HarryTC
And Biden states we will have another 200,000 deaths coming in the next two months ! !
Nobody
Daishi, I'm glad you read the report but had you read a few more you would know that medical mistakes are really the number ONE cause of death since most mistakes are never reported. But reading doesn't make up for experience which I have more of than I ever wanted. First, Covid-19 is bad but not much worse compared to the flu. I personally know 30 people who have had it and most weren't as sick as a regular case of the flu. Only one had breathing problems but quickly recovered. I know several doctors who tell me it is more political than serious and haven't lost a patient to just Covid-19. Having spent many months in several hospitals, I can tell you where many mistakes are made. Doctors have computers but seldom look back at more than a few lines. Often in haste prescribing drugs with deadly interactions or ignoring allergies. Nurses often empty bed pans and serve food wearing the same latex gloves. Often they go from quarantined rooms without the proper protection and then go on to other rooms. The soiled sheets and bedspreads are usually piled on the visitor chairs or window sills before being gathered up in laundry carts. Visitors have no idea they are sitting in contaminated chairs when they come to visit. Just another reason c-diff and mersa have become super bugs killing many. There is definitely a shortage of good medical staff and the hours they are expected to work accounts for much carelessness. Then there is the attitude of many doctors who think elderly patients are not worth saving through a crisis even though they are relatively healthy otherwise. As far as high medical costs go, every hospital goes on an extravagant building campaign every few years. I would rather get good medical care in a warehouse than die in a palace.