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Actual COVID-caused deaths in USA may be double official totals

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Here’s some intriguing data from the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, on excess deaths in the USA this year. These statistics are still very incomplete, as the official process of transmitting death certificates from various localities to the CDC can take several weeks. But what they show is that, nationally, the total number of excess deaths this year through April 25th is nearly double the number of these excess deaths that are being attributed officially to COVID-19. (Excess deaths means something like that number of deaths above and beyond what might possibly be a product of random statistical fluctuations in mortality rates in a particular week, so it’s actually a conservative estimate — the true number of excess deaths is probably higher).

Likely explanations for this include:

(1) COVID-19 deaths that aren’t being recorded as such. There are undoubtedly a lot of these, especially among people who die without ever being admitted to a hospital first. It’s also possible some jurisdictions (hi Governor DeSantis) may be intentionally or semi-intentionally hiding COVID-19 deaths, by employing definitional metrics designed to produce undercounts. Such undercounting should eventually become evident in the all-cause mortality statistics, however, since deaths are difficult to hide.

(2) Excess deaths that are indirectly caused by COVID-19, because people who otherwise would have received medical treatment aren’t receiving it, either because they’re not seeking it out of fear of contracting the virus, or they’re seeking it but can’t get it because hospitals are turning them away (One example: what counts as “elective surgery” is a fuzzy category. Some elective surgeries may end up being life-saving).

(3) Other indirectly caused deaths, such as suicides, drug overdoses, etc.

There should be a few countervailing factors, such as fewer automobile fatalities because of less driving, particularly less drunk driving.

The ultimate number of deaths caused directly and indirectly by even the first wave of the pandemic will take quite awhile to determine, but it seems certain that number will be far higher than what the official statistics currently report as the pandemic’s death toll.

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