New research published Monday in the Journal of the American Medical Association reveals that more Americans have died due to the coronavirus than originally reported.
Dr. Steven Woolf, the author of the new research and director emeritus of the Center of Society and Health at Virginia Commonwealth University, said, “For every two Americans that we know of who are dying of Covid-19, another American is dying.”
His study looked at death statistics from the National Center for Health Statistics, which is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as the Census Bureau.
The study found that there was a 20 percent increase over the average number of deaths expected for those months. Between March and July, there were 225,530 “excess” deaths. (Excess deaths refer to the number of fatalities above what would be expected in a typical time period.)
Sixty-seven percent of excess deaths are directly linked to Covid-19, and the study found that the remaining 33 percent of deaths do not have a clear explanation. They think that one explanation for the gap could be that they’re misreporting the Covid-19 related deaths, which means not counting Covid-19 deaths.
Woolf says, “The second explanation for the gap is people who did not have Covid-19, but died because of disruptions caused by the pandemic.” He adds, “that would include someone who has chest pain, who is scared to call 911, because they’re afraid of getting the virus, and then dies of a heart attack.”
His study also took into account increased deaths related to substance abuse and not having access to medical care for some who lost health care coverage during the pandemic because of the economic downturn.
The second study was also published in JAMA which compared the death rates in the U.S. from the response of the pandemic to that of other high-income countries.
Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, author, and vice provost for Global Initiatives and chair of the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy at the University of Pennsylvania said “What we show pretty consistently, is that the United States did worse in terms of deaths compared to every other of the 18 countries.”
The study showed that as of Sept. 19, the U.S. reported an overall Covid-19 death rate of 60.3 per 100,000 people. Canada’s rate was 24.6 per 100,000, and Australia’s rate was 3.3 deaths per 100,000 people. The overall mortality rates included deaths from the beginning of the pandemic through mid-September. If the U.S. had the same death rate as Canada, there would be 117,000 fewer Covid-19 deaths; if they had Australia’s death rate the U.S. would have seen 188,000 fewer deaths, authors say.