The number of confirmed positive Covid-19 cases and deaths in America that is circulating throughout the media everyday is substantially much lower than the actual number, according to a recent study posted this Wednesday in the JAMA Internal Medicine Journal.
Researchers from Yale University, who have been collecting data on the pandemic since it began, used information from the National Center for Health Statistics to compare the number of weekly US deaths from March 1st to May 30th to previous years as well; when the country/world was covid-free.
What they found was that there was an obvious excess in the number of deaths this year compared to normal death rates in America for the spring. The excess was likely caused by the coronavirus, although it’s difficult to know which portion of the deaths were unrelated to Covid, however, this evidence is what led the researchers to believe that such a sharp increase in deaths when compared to what’s normal shows that the number may be undercounted.
Dan Weinberger, an epidemiologist at Yale’s School of Public Health and one of the lead authors of the study told the media that other factors could contribute to this increase in deaths outside of just Covid-19; he gave the example of people avoiding emergency treatment for serious medical conditions out of fear of contracting the virus. However, Weinberger doesn’t think that’s what’s mainly driving the numbers up.
“Our analyses suggest that the official tally of deaths due to Covid-19 represent a substantial undercount of the true burden.”
The United States reported 781,000 deaths between the months of March and May this year. That number is approximately 19% higher than the average amount of deaths in America for this time of year (or 122,300 more deaths). Of those 122,300 excess deaths, 95,235 were recorded as being related to Covid-19 in one way or the other. Researchers believe that the remaining deaths were also brought on by Covid, but could’ve also been attributed to pre-existing conditions in the patients that the virus further intensified.
Covid-19 affects almost every system within the body, but it’s impact on the circulatory system has doctors seeing an increase in heart attack and stroke in older patients who contract the virus. Heart attack, stroke, and cardiovascular illnesses in general are already such a heavy killer every year all around the world, so Covid has only made that issue much larger.
The reports publishing is a direct result of the massive spikes in cases the US is currently seeing due to premature reopenings of businesses, and lack of enforcement over health and safety protocols meant to halt the spread. New cases in the US grew by 5% in 40 states, but even that statistic is likely to be undercounted. A lack of access to testing facilities is also a major reason researchers believe the number of confirmed cases is much higher than the public thinks.
Researchers also claimed that some of the inconsistencies in the data was likely related to the intensity and timing of increases in testing in particular states. The main reason for releasing this report was to get Americans who have been acting casually throughout the past few months to start grasping the reality of this pandemic. There’s likely a lot more positive cases out there than we think so continue to listen to your health care professionals and abide by proper social distancing/lockdown protocols.