When the health crisis linked to the coronavirus pandemic hit the United States, an increase in mortality was observed in the country. Researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University and Yale University have found that from March 1 to April 25, the United States experienced 87,001 more deaths than expected based on averages for the past five years. Despite the context, the study shows that Covid-19 is responsible for only 65% of these additional deaths. In 14 states, including California and Texas, the two most populous, more than half of the deaths are due to other things than coronavirus infections. The researchers published their results in the Journal of American Medical Association.
Deaths from diabetes
The researchers believe that the difference can be explained by the fact that the number of deaths linked to Covid-19 has been underestimated. “There are several possible reasons for this undercoverage,” said Steven Woolf, lead author of the study. Some of them may reflect underreporting, it takes a while for some of this data to be provided. Some cases may involve patients with Covid-19 who have died from related complications, such as heart disease, and these complications may have been listed as the cause of death rather than Covid-19.”
The other reason, the one that worries researchers the most, concerns indirect mortality, which refers to deaths caused by the response to the pandemic. “People who have never had the virus may have died from other causes due to the fallout from the pandemic, such as delayed medical care, economic hardship or emotional distress,” suggests the researcher.
Researchers have found that deaths from something other than Covid-19 have increased sharply in the states with the most Covid-19 deaths. Deaths from diabetes increased 96% from the January and February averages. Behind them are the deaths caused by heart disease (89%), Alzheimer’s disease (64%) and strokes (35%). In New York, death rates increased 398% due to heart disease and 356% due to diabetes.
Many causes of indirect death
The reasons for these deaths lie in the indirect causes of the pandemic, say the researchers. Fear of going to hospital has resulted in preventable heart attacks or strokes. Others are said to have died of their illness for lack of adequate care in hospitals submerged by patients infected with Covid-19. Those suffering from chronic illnesses, such as diabetes or cancer, may have suffered from lack of care and care. There are also those who have failed to cope with the consequences of job loss or social isolation. “We can’t forget about mental health,” says Steven Woolf. Several people struggling with depression, addiction and very difficult economic conditions caused by the blockages may have become increasingly desperate and some may have died by suicide. People who are addicted to opioids and other drugs may have an overdose.”
The researchers announced that new, more in-depth studies are needed to quantify the number of direct and indirect deaths more accurately from Covid-19.