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A recent study suggests that the number of deaths from Covid in the United States is most likely 16% higher than the reported count.
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A recent study suggests that the number of deaths from Covid in the United States is most likely 16% higher than the reported count.

A recent study suggests that the actual number of Covid-related deaths in the US is potentially 16% higher than the reported number. The researchers suggest that this discrepancy is not only due to overwhelmed healthcare systems, but also a lack of awareness about Covid and insufficient testing.

The study revealed that the second year of the pandemic experienced almost the same number of unreported excess deaths as the first.

Over 1.1 million individuals in the United States have passed away from Covid, based on official documentation. However, the true number is likely higher due to the significant number of additional deaths. Demographers sought to determine the number of deaths that can be linked to Covid, and they closely examined county-level data to identify trends in location and timeframe.

According to the researchers, there were 1.2 million additional deaths from non-accidental, non-suicide, and non-overdose causes between March 2020 and August 2022. Out of these, approximately 163,000 were not linked to Covid in any manner. However, the researchers argue that most of these deaths should have been attributed to Covid.

After calculating the difference between the actual number of deaths and the expected number, additional inquiries were raised.

“Why did these additional fatalities occur?” inquired Elizabeth Wrigley-Field, an associate professor in the University of Minnesota’s department of sociology and the Minnesota Population Center, and a co-author of the study.

In order to approach the solution, they initially examined the time and location of surplus fatalities.

The scientists hypothesized that the deaths would occur during the height of significant surges or soon after, when medical facilities were overburdened and healthcare workers were fatigued and ill.

However, the number of deaths exceeding the expected amount started to increase in the month prior, leading to significant spikes.

According to Wrigley-Field, the deaths that are not attributed to Covid occur slightly before the official rise of Covid cases and peak slightly earlier.

This suggests that certain individuals were unaware that their sickness was caused by Covid, likely due to a lack of knowledge about its widespread presence and insufficient testing. Additionally, there was an increase in deaths occurring outside of hospitals, such as in homes and nursing facilities, making it more challenging to determine the exact cause of death.

The scientists hypothesized that there would be lower numbers of reported Covid-related deaths in the initial stages of the pandemic, as previous studies have suggested. This was due to the virus being new and not everyone being aware of its symptoms or having access to testing.

“On the contrary, our study’s authors, including Andrew Stokes, associate professor of global health and sociology at Boston University, discovered significant deficiencies in surveillance over the initial 30 months of the pandemic.”

Jennifer Dowd, a professor of demography and population health at the University of Oxford, who was not involved in this study, stated that despite improvements in Covid testing, there were still numerous official Covid-related deaths unaccounted for in the US.

According to Wrigley-Field, the occurrence highlights the US’s poor handling of the ongoing pandemic and serves as a clear indication of the failures within the public health system.

According to Stokes, there was significant regional diversity in the locations of the deaths. The most heavily affected were counties outside of metropolitan areas, particularly in the western and southern regions. These areas have fewer resources for death investigations and have also conducted less Covid testing, leading to lower numbers of reported cases.

These differences are also likely explained by different state-level policies, how jurisdictions count Covid deaths, and the politicization of the crisis down to the local level, where beliefs about Covid may have influenced the cause of death listed on certificates.

Stokes stated that each jurisdiction is handling this in their own unique way, resulting in a chaotic situation.

The experts are in agreement that the US should prioritize investing in more comprehensive and prompt reporting of mortality data.

Although the number of deaths from Covid has decreased since the peak of the pandemic, the virus is still a significant threat. According to Dowd, in order to fully understand the impact of Covid on mortality, it is important to analyze the ongoing excess over a period of time.

She stated that these numbers will likely be utilized for various purposes in order to analyze the successes and failures of Covid, and to improve our approach for future pandemics.

Understanding death rates aids in the distribution of resources such as vaccines, treatments, and additional healthcare personnel to the most heavily affected communities and areas. It also allows individuals to make better-informed choices about preventative measures.

The researchers emphasized the significance of comprehending the actual number of deaths caused by Covid, as well as determining the causes of under-reporting. This information is crucial for effectively addressing current infectious diseases and anticipating future pandemics.

“What is necessary in order to effectively react to a disaster as it is happening?” Wrigley-Field inquired. “Which locations were unable to sustain human life during a crisis?”

Source: theguardian.com