COVID updates - leading causes of death, vaccines, etc.

04/05/21 at 03:10 PM by Cordt Kassner

I'm tracking a few interesting articles related to COVID-19 here...

1) The Leading Causes of Death in the US for 2020
Ahmad FB and Anderson RN. The Leading Causes of Death in the US for 2020. JAMA Online, 3/31/21.

An interesting article detailing causes of death in the US for 2020, including COVID-19. Some of my calculations, based on the table below:

  • Typically we see an increase of ~1% in the total number of deaths each year, but from 2019-2020 we see an increase of 17.7%.
  • The new category of COVID-19 deaths appears in 2020 (345,323) as the 3rd highest cause of death in the country.
  • Typically we see an increase of ~30,000 total deaths each year, but from 2019-2020 we see an increase of 503,976.
  • Increased deaths in some diagnoses: heart disease, unintentional injuries, stroke, Alzheimer's, diabetes, influenza and pneumonia, and kidney disease.
  • Decreased deaths in other diagnoses: cancer, chronic lower respiratory diseases, and suicide.

It will take time to understand mortality in the context of a pandemic - including concepts such as "excess mortality", dying "of COVID-19" vs "with COVID-19", and how COVID-19-related deaths impact how deaths by other diagnoses are reported.


2) Excess Deaths from COVID-19 and Other Causes in the US, 3/1/20-1/2/21.
Woolf SH, Chapman DA, Sabo RT. JAMA Network Online 4/2/21.

The 22.9% increase in all-cause mortality reported here far exceeds annual increases observed in recent years (≤2.5%). The percentage of excess deaths among non-Hispanic Black individuals (16.9%) exceeded their share of the US population (12.5%), reflecting racial disparities in COVID-19 mortality. Excess deaths surged in the east in April, followed by extended summer and early winter surges concentrated in southern and western states, respectively. Many of these states weakly embraced, or discouraged, pandemic control measures and lifted restrictions earlier than other states.

Excess deaths not attributed to COVID-19 could reflect either immediate or delayed mortality from undocumented COVID-19 infection, or non–COVID-19 deaths secondary to the pandemic, such as from delayed care or behavioral health crises. Death rates from several non–COVID-19 diseases (eg, heart disease, Alzheimer disease) increased during surges. The model does not adjust directly for population aging, which could contribute to an overestimate of excess deaths. Other study limitations include reliance on provisional data, inaccurate death certificates, and modeling assumptions.


3) Reactogenicity Following Receipt of mRNA-Based COVID-19 Vaccines
Chapin-Bardales J, Gee J, Myers T. JAMA Insights 4/5/21.

Comparing side effects of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.





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