The United States has reached 200,000 coronavirus deaths. Now experts are looking ahead and the forecast for autumn and winter is not good.
Researchers at the University of Virginia in the British Commonwealth in Richmond have found that nearly 75,000 more people may have died from the pandemic than recorded in March to July, according to a report published Monday in the peer-reviewed journal JAMA.
Examining death certificates, the study found that more than 150,000 deaths were officially attributed to COVID-19 during that period. However, researchers found that nearly 75,000 deaths were indirectly caused by the pandemic – with a total of over 225,000 deaths in those four months.
Data from Johns Hopkins University show that the total number of victims of COVID-19 in the United States so far is just under 215,000.
“There are some conspiracy theories that the number of deaths from COVID-19 is exaggerated,” said Dr Stephen Wolf, honorary director of the Center for Society and Health at the University of the British Community in Richmond. “It simply came to our notice then. In fact, we are experiencing more deaths than we thought. “
Wolfe says there have been unnecessary deaths indirectly caused by the pandemicfrom diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes and heart disease, which increased sharply in the same five countries that recorded the most deaths from COVID-19.
Delayed care, fear of seeking care, or emotional crises resulting from the pandemic could also contribute to these deaths, as well as inaccurate death documents that may have mistakenly identified the death of COVID-19.
Wolfe sees a similar pattern in a previous study by researchers at the University of Virginia in the British Community and Yale, which looked at unnecessary deaths at the start of the pandemic, from March to April.
In this study, researchers found that mortality from these other diseases increased in states such as New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts, where coronavirus cases increased at the onset of the pandemic. In June and July, Wolfe said similar deaths had increased in the southern states, which had experienced a summer jump in coronavirus cases.
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Another remarkable finding is how long the jumps lasted in different countries. According to the study, the unnecessary deaths in New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts were huge, but short-lived, which led to an “A” model.
In Sunbelt, however, the number of unnecessary deaths began to increase gradually at the start of the pandemic, then jumped in June, rising until Wolfe’s team stopped research in July.
“This suggests that there are some political implications in terms of the implications of some countries’ decision to ease restrictions at the start of the pandemic,” he said. “It’s kind of a warning call ahead.”
Dr Amesh Adalya, an infectious disease doctor and senior scientist at the John Hopkins Center for Health Security, said the study confirmed what doctors saw every day at the hospital, and stressed how poorly federal officials performed during the pandemic.
Although the study may only be a snapshot from March to July, he says the country is still seeing an excess of coronavirus deaths.
“The fact is, even now in the fall, with all the knowledge and new tools … it’s still killing people at a speed that’s too high,” Adalya said.
The study contributes to a study from the University of Washington, which predicts that nearly 400,000 people will die this year from COVID-19 or the effects of the pandemic. JAMA Editor-in-Chief Dr Howard Bouchner said in an editorial in a magazine published on Monday that the number of unnecessary deaths “cannot be overestimated”.
“These deaths reflect a real measure of the human cost of the Great Pandemic in 2020,” he wrote.
Follow Adriana Rodriguez on Twitter: @AdriannaUSAT.
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