AGI – Due to the pandemic, more people die and not just from Covid-19. In the US, for every two deaths attributed to Covid-19 there is a third who instead dies due to the emergency situation. These, in a nutshell, are the conclusions of a study conducted by researchers from Virginia Commonwealth University and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The study shows that deaths between 1 March and 1 August increased by 20 per cent compared to previous years, which may not come as a surprise in times of a pandemic. But deaths attributed to Covid-19 represented only 67 percent of the total.
“Contrary to skeptics who claim that deaths from Covid-19 are false or that the numbers are much smaller than what we hear in the news, our research and many other studies on the same topic show just the opposite,” says the lead author of the study, Steven Woolf.
Harmful state measures
The study also contains suggestive evidence that state reopening policies in early April and May may have fueled the surges experienced in June and July. “The high death toll in the Sun Belt states shows us the serious consequences of how some states have responded to the pandemic and sound the alarm not to repeat this mistake in the future,” Woolf points out.
The total number of deaths in the United States is constant from year to year. The study authors extracted data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the period 2014-2020, using models to predict deaths predicted for 2020.
The gap between reported Covid-19 deaths and all unexpected deaths can be partially explained by delays in reporting Covid-19 deaths, coding errors or other data limitations, as Woolf points out. But the other ripple effects of the pandemic may explain more. “Some people who have never had the virus may have died as a result of the disruptions caused by the pandemic“These include people with acute emergencies, chronic illnesses such as diabetes who have not been properly treated or emotional crises that have led to overdoses or suicides,” they add.
The deadliest diseases
For example, the study specifically showed that the entire nation has seen a significant increase in deaths from dementia and heart disease. Woolf said deaths from Alzheimer’s and dementia increased not only in March and April, when the pandemic began, but again in June and July, when the Sun Belt peaked at Covid-19.
This study, with data from March to August 1, is based on an article previously published in JAMA by the same authors at VCU and Yale University that focused on data from March to May 1. And it introduces new data on the timing of when states lifted restrictions on social distancing.
The most affected states
States like New York and New Jersey, which were hit hard in the beginning, were able to bend the curve and reduce death rates in less than 10 weeks. Meanwhile, states like Texas, Florida and Arizona that escaped the pandemic early on but reopened early showed a prolonged summer surge that lasted 16-17 weeks – and was still ongoing when the study. it’s over.
“We can’t causally prove that the early reopening of those states led to the summer waves. But it seems likely enough,” Woolf says. “And most of the models predict that our country will have more excess deaths if states do not take more assertive approaches to dealing with community spread. Applying measures on masks and social distances is really important if we are to avoid these. spikes and loss of life, “he adds.
Woolf paints a gloomy picture, warning that long-term data could show a larger impact of the pandemic on mortality rates. According to the researchers, cancer patients who had to stop chemotherapy, women who had mammograms late, and in general, early and preventable deaths could increase in the coming years.
“Many people who survive this pandemic will live with chronic disease complications throughout their lives,” Woolf says. “Imagine someone who developed the warning signs of a stroke but was afraid to call 9-1-1 for fear of contracting the virus. That person could end up with a stroke that leaves them with permanent neurological deficits for the rest of their life. life, “he adds.
Complications of diabetes that are not managed properly could lead to kidney failure and dialysis. And behavioral health problems, such as emotional trauma, will not be treated. Woolf is especially concerned with the lasting effects on children.