COVID-19 was the third leading cause of death in the United States in 2020 and 2021

In a recent article published in the magazine JAMA Internal MedicineInvestigators examined the leading causes of death in the United States (US) in the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic.

Study: Leading causes of death in the US during the COVID-19 pandemic, March 2020 to October 2021. Photo credit: Corona Borealis Studio/Shutterstock

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Cancer and heart disease were the top causes of death in the US in 2020, contributing to 1.29 million deaths, followed by SARS-CoV-2 infection which was linked to 350,000 deaths. The 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic may have inadvertently increased other causes of death such as diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s and unintentional injuries.

About the study

In the current research, scientists analyzed the prominent causes of death overall and across different age groups in the US between March 2020 and October 2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The team obtained the complete 2020 national death certificate information and accessed the 2021 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on May 5, 2022. Researchers did not include data younger than October 2021 because they were incomplete. They identified the top five causes of death by age group and year, and compared the months of March to December 2020 to January to October 2021. The study did not require review by an institutional review board because the data was publicly available.

Results and Conclusions

Study results showed that heart disease, cancer, COVID-19, accidents, and stroke were the leading causes of death in the US between March 2020 and October 2021, with respective rates of 20.1%, 17.5%, 12.2%, 6 .2%. , and 4.7%. 2.875 million people died between March and December 2020, and 2.855 million deaths occurred between January and October 2021. Also, the top five causes of death were the same every year. Deaths increased across all age groups in people over 1 year old.

The leading causes of death in all groups aged 55 and over were COVID-19, cancer and heart disease. The top three causes of death remained unchanged in these age groups in 2020 and 2021.

In 2020, SARS-CoV-2 infection was the second leading cause of death among people aged 85 and over with 110,000 deaths or 12.8% of deaths and the third leading cause of death in 2021 with 69,000 or 8.9% of deaths.

With 17,000 deaths, or 10.4% of all deaths between the ages of 45 and 54 in 2020, COVID-19 was the fourth leading cause of death after cancer, heart disease and accidents. Nonetheless, SARS-CoV-2 infection was the leading cause of causation in this age group in 2021, accounting for 30,000 deaths or 16.8% of deaths.

In all age groups between 1 and 44 years, accidents were the leading cause of death in both periods. Compared to 2020, SARS-CoV-2 infection increased from the fifth leading cause of death among people aged 35-44 with 6100 deaths to the second leading cause of death with 13,000 deaths in 2021. SARS-CoV-2 infection also increased to the fourth leading cause of death in 2021 among people aged 25-34 with 5000 deaths and among people aged 15-24 with 1100 deaths.

Conclusions

Overall, the study results showed that between March 2020 and October 2021, SARS-CoV-2 infection caused one in eight deaths in the United States and was among the top five causes of death in all age groups for people 15 and older. While cancer and heart disease exceeded the number of deaths from COVID-19 in general and in most age groups, accidents were the leading cause of death among people aged 1 to 44 compared to 2020 who were 85 years or older but among those 15 to 54-year-olds and became the leading cause of death among 45- to 54-year-olds.

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