Monday, September 25

The Actual Number of Covid Deaths in the US Likely Underestimated, Experts Say | US News

The actual number of deaths from the Covid pandemic in the US is likely being underestimated, due to the long-lasting and poorly understood effects of the Covid infection and other deadly complications that emerged over the past two years.

“We’re seeing the highest death rates right now that we’ve seen in the history of this business,” J Scott Davison, chief executive of insurance company OneAmerica, told reporters on Dec. 30.

“Mortality rates have increased 40% from what they were before the pandemic,” he said, among people of working age between 18 and 64 years. Deaths among older Americans have also risen, with one in 100 Americans over the age of 65 dying.

An estimated 942,431 excess deaths have been estimated in the U.S. Since February 2020, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Hispanic, Black, and Native American and Alaska Native populations have been disproportionately affected with high death rates, investigate shows.

The pandemic pales in comparison to previous crises, Davison said. “A catastrophe of one in 200 years would be a 10% increase over the pre-pandemic [levels]. So 40% is unheard of. “

Many of the deaths are not counted in the official Covid count, he said, because they occur months after the Covid infections. “The deaths that are reported as Covid deaths greatly underestimate the actual death losses among people of working age due to the pandemic. It may not all be Covid on their death certificates, but deaths have risen by huge numbers. “

In addition to deaths from Covid-19, drug overdoses, which are already one of the leading causes of death among working-age adults, and homicides have also occurred. risen during the pandemic.

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Insurers are also seeing an increase in disability claims, initially for short-term disability and now for long-term disability, due to both prolonged Covid and delayed care for other diseases, “because people have not been able to get the medical care they need because the hospitals are overwhelmed, ”Davison said. It is a trend “consistent across all players in the business” of insurance.

Long-term Covid deaths have been particularly difficult to track, because the virus may no longer be present at the time of death, but it weakened organs or created new fatal ailments.

“We are seeing that the statistics are written on the fly, almost” Micah Pollak, associate professor of economics at Indiana Northwestern University, said. And the high death and disability rates will only continue as more people become infected, he said.

“We really don’t know what the tail of this thing looks like,” Pollak said of Long Covid. “The further you get away [from infection], the more time you have to potentially develop some kind of complications. “

The high death rates haven’t surprised him, Pollak said, given the equally high case rates and unknown effects of a new virus.

“There is so much evidence for these long-term effects of Covid that I naturally assumed that people realized that, well, we will probably see a lot of deaths in the future, not necessarily shortly after infection, but indirectly as a result of infection as well. like not only deaths but also disability. “

He expects these losses to continue as the pandemic escalates and hospitals overcome their breaking points.

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“People say we are on the brink of collapse of the healthcare system and things like that, and I think we are probably past that point,” Pollak said. “We really don’t know what’s going to happen in the next month, as all of these Omicron cases will affect the healthcare system.”

The crushing of the latest surge adds to two years of overload and burnout, which could have serious long-term implications for healthcare.

“We are going to come out of this with an incredibly diminished healthcare system because of what has happened,” Pollak said. “We have some very serious long-term consequences for our healthcare system that, if we don’t address them, you’ll see more illnesses, more preventable illnesses, be it Covid or otherwise, showing up in the population that we just can’t deal with.” .

The economic consequences of the pandemic will likely be felt for years to come, with a continuing labor shortage already being felt.

“This worker shortage that we are experiencing is not going to go away,” Pollak said.

In addition to the large number of people who die, many are becoming disabled, making it difficult for them and their carers to have other jobs.

“Especially in the US, we just don’t have very good child care benefits, elderly care benefits, family care benefits,” Pollak said. “And as long as we don’t have those things, people are going to make the decision to get out of the workforce, if they can, to provide those services.”

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