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Indirect effects of Covid-19 caused a third of excess US deaths

Published Oct 23, 2020


CAPE TOWN- Findings from a report conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that indirect effects of the Covid-19 pandemic such as healthcare disruption and emotional crises may have led to around a third of the “excess deaths” in the United States.

The report shows that between January and October of 2020, nearly 300,000 more people died in the US during the pandemic than would be expected based on historical trends, with at least two-thirds directly due to the coronavirus.

Excess deaths are defined as the difference between the observed numbers of deaths in specific time periods and expected numbers of deaths within the same time periods. Estimates of excess deaths can provide scientists and researchers a comprehensive account of mortality related to the outbreak, including deaths that are directly or indirectly attributable to Covid-19.


Director emeritus of the Virginia university’s Center on Society and Health and first author of the study, Dr. Steven Woolf says that many people who were never infected by the virus could have died because of disruptions caused by it.

“These include people with acute emergencies, chronic diseases like diabetes that were not properly cared for, or emotional crises that led to overdoses or suicides,” he said.

The deaths which were not attributed to coronavirus, were mainly due to heart disease, Alzheimer’s and dementia.

The CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics study author, Lauren Rossen, told Reuters :“There are many factors that could contribute to an increase in deaths indirectly due to the pandemic, with disruptions to health care being one factor."

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