The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has published two new reports on the extent to which COVID-19 contributed to U.S. deaths in 2020.
In one of the studies, researchers found that the virus caused the U.S. mortality rate to rise nearly 16 percent.
They also determined that COVID killed 91.5 out of every 100,000 people and was the third-leading cause of death, second only to heart disease and cancer.
In the second report, in which more than 378,000 death certificates were analyzed, the CDC found that 5.5 percent listed COVID-19 as the sole cause of death.
Of certificates that listed other conditions, the two most common were pneumonia and acute respiratory failure.
In one of the reports, the CDC found COVID-19 to be the third-leading cause of death in the U.S., second only to heart disease and cancer (above)
Coronavirus also contributed to the morality rate rising by 15.9%, from 715.2 deaths per 100,000 people in 2019 to 828.7 deaths per 100,000 in 2020
For the first report, the CDC looked at provisional mortality data for the US in 2020, during which an estimated 3.35 million deaths occurred.
Researchers found that that COVID-19 was the third leading cause of death, killing about 378,000, second only to heart disease and cancer, respectively.
Comparatively, the flu was the ninth-leading cause of death, killing 50,000 people.
The majority of these cases occurred during the 2019-2020 flu season. During the 2020-21 season, the flu has almost completely disappeared with just 1,600 cases identified since late September.
This is likely due to the public health measures taken to stop the spread of coronavirus including mask-wearing, social distancing and hand-washing.
In addition, from 2019 to 2020, researchers found that the overall death rate rose for the first time since 2017.
After adjusting for age, the rate increased by 15.9 percent, from 715.2 deaths per 100,000 people to 828.7 deaths per 100,000.
They determined that COVID-19 was responsible for about 11 percent of all deaths last year, killing 91.5 out of every 100,000 people.
Meanwhile, the flu killed 15.2 out of every 100,000.
In the second report, of 378,000 death certificates, 5.5% listed COVID-19 as the sole cause of death. Pictured: A casket carrying the body of Lola Simmons, who died of coronavirus, is placed into a hearse following a funeral service in Dallas, Texas on July 2020
COVID-19 death rates were lowest among children between ages one and 14, killing 0.4 out of every 100,000, and highest among those aged 85 and older, killing 1,797.8 out of every 100.000.
COVID-19 death rates were also highest among American Indian/Alaska Native, in which 187.8 out of every 100,000 died due to the virus.
During 2020, the highest overall number of coronavirus deaths occurred during the weeks ending April 11, 2020, during which 78,917 died – the height of the first wave – and December 26, 2020, during which 80,656 died – the beginning of the second wave.
For the second report, the CDC looked at more than 378,000 U.S. death certificates between December and January 2020.
All had the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10) code U07.1, indicating the patient had been diagnosed with COVID-19.
Of the certificates, 94.5 percent had at least one other ICD-10 code, meaning their cause of death was attributed to COVID-19 and another disease.
In addition, 87 percent of the death certificates listed the virus in Part I, which is the section that reports the chain of events leading directly to death, the immediate cause of death, and the underlying cause of death.
Of those certificates listing COVID-19 in Part I, the most common co-occurring diagnosis was pneumonia, which appeared on 45 percent of the certificates.
The second most common was acute respiratory failure, listed on one-fifth of the death certificates.
Meanwhile, 5.5 percent of the certificates listed COVID-19 as the sole cause of death, with no other conditions listed.
Having only the virus listed on the death certificate was more frequent for certificates that listed dead on arrival, about 10 percent, or home, 8.6 percent, as the place of death.
The age 30-to-39 group was most commonly to have COVID-19 listed as their only cause of death, appearing on 6.6 of their certificates.
What’s more, American Indian or Alaska Native was the ethnicity group that aas most likely to have coronavirus written as the sole cause death, occuring on six percent of certificates.
‘These findings support the accuracy of COVID-19 mortality surveillance in the United States using official death certificates,’ the CDC authors wrote.
‘High-quality documentation of death certificate diagnoses is essential for an authoritative public record.’