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COVID-19 was the leading cause of death last week: IHME

SARS-COV-2 EM photo courtesy NIAID

COVID-19 was ranked as the leading cause of death in the U.S. this week, with 11,820, according to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. That’s more than the number of Americans who died from ischemic heart disease (10,724), tracheal, bronchus and lung cancer (3,965), and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (3,766).

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) published a report dated December 4 (available here) that gives an average daily new case rate for last week of 165,200 and average daily deaths of 1660. This makes COVID-19 the leading cause of death in the US last week, with worse to come this week.

IHME also estimates that 15% of people in the US have been infected. Deaths are predicted to peak in January at 3,000 per day. Their reference scenario (the most likely one) predicts 530,000 deaths by April 1, 2021.

The CDC reported in October that there had been roughly 300,000 excess deaths in the US from January 26 through October 3, about 20% of total deaths. Of these, only about 200,000 had been attributed to COVID-19. Other causes of death have also increased above historical averages: “deaths from circulatory diseases, Alzheimer disease and dementia, and respiratory diseases have increased in 2020 relative to past years… “

We do not know how many of these deaths attributed to other causes were due to the virus or were related to disruptions in care due to inattention. Death rates were 12% higher than normal for White people and nearly 1/3 higher among Black people.

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