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CDC: Number of COVID-19 Deaths May Be Underreported

THURSDAY, Oct. 22, 2020 -- The number of COVID-19-related deaths may be underestimated, according to research published in the Oct. 20 early-release issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Lauren M. Rossen, Ph.D., from the CDC in Atlanta, and colleagues assessed trends and demographic patterns in excess deaths occurring between Jan. 26 and Oct. 3, 2020, using provisional mortality data from the CDC National Vital Statistics System. Excess deaths were calculated as the difference between the weekly number of deaths occurring in 2020 and the average number occurring in the same week during 2015 to 2019 and the percentage change in 2020.

The researchers found that an estimated 299,028 excess deaths occurred in the United States during the study period. Of these excess deaths, two-thirds were attributed to COVID-19. The largest percentage increases were seen among adults aged 25 to 44 years and among Hispanic or Latino persons.

"These results provide information about the degree to which COVID-19 deaths might be underascertained and inform efforts to prevent mortality directly or indirectly associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, such as efforts to minimize disruptions to health care," the authors write.

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Posted: October 2020

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