What is the Real Coronavirus Death Toll in the US?

Mish

Media is rife with complaints of overcounts and undercounts of Covid-19 deaths.

What's the Real Story?

Unfortunately, the answer is crystal clear: The Coronavirus Death Toll in the United States is dramatically understated.

A New York Times analysis of estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows just how many lives are being lost in the pandemic, as some people die from the virus itself and others from the upheaval it has brought.

Nationwide, 200,700 more people have died than usual from March 15 to July 25, according to C.D.C. estimates, which adjust current death records to account for typical reporting lags. That number is 54,000 higher than the official count of coronavirus deaths for that period. Higher-than-normal death rates are now widespread across the country; only Alaska, Hawaii, Maine and West Virginia show numbers that look similar to recent years.

Our analysis examines deaths from all causes — not just confirmed cases of coronavirus — beginning in mid-March when the virus took hold. That allows comparisons that don’t depend on the availability of coronavirus tests in a given place or on the accuracy of cause-of-death reporting. 

Best Explanation

Through July 25, estimated excess deaths were about 37 percent higher than the official coronavirus fatality count. If this pattern holds, it would put the current death toll at more than 216,000 people.

Covid is the best explanation for the excess deaths. 

Arguably hospitals were so flooded with Covid it impacted other ailments and/or fear of catching Covid caused people to not seek treatment for other diseases resulting in excess deaths. 

But what percentage would one want to place on that? 

The Real Number Range

If one assigned all excess deaths to Covid, the number would be 54,000. That's not likely.

I suspect at least 80% of those excess deaths were Covid-related. 

That would make it the undercount at least 43,000 (as of July 25) and higher now.

Mish 

Comments (67)
No. 1-18
Sechel
Sechel

Covid-19 death counting has been politicized. The statisticians and health experts know their job but politicians are inserting themselves. It will not always be crystal clear but the experts know how to interpret the data.

PecuniaNonOlet
PecuniaNonOlet

85 days till election.

Deaths are one thing, there is near zero reporting on long term effects of cv19: heart, brain, lung, liver, nervous system, kidney damage.

How are the people who got corona in March doing right now?
How many are reinfected?
How many never had infection cleared?

So much unknown but we are told to go back to normal.

Anna 7
Anna 7

In sci-fi stories, writers adjust the space distances and durations to suit the plot.

In covid-1984, the people who brought you Obama’s/Hillary’s “pivot to Asia” and Trump’s tariffs and who helped use covid to coverup another financial bust will ensure the case/death count suffices to make enough people hate China.

BaronAsh
BaronAsh

One niggle: you say that hospitals were flooded. Some were. But many were laying people off because they were empty, including in States with almost no covid because of the shut-down protocols.

I suspect the number of extra deaths due to the shut-down of normal medical services is far higher than you are guesstimating. Given the high numbers dying in old peoples' homes in the key death states (NY NJ etc.), arguably bad care was in the mix. Can you imagine how frightening and demoralizing it must have been to be in one of those place, not allowed to see your loved ones whilst facing death. Barbaric - and also contributing to morbidity rates almost for certain.

I for one don't trust a single number coming out of CDC.

For a different take on what's going on:

(yes, it's a plandemic argument, in this case about the World Economic Forum and the pandemic war game exercise conducted in 2018 (?), featuring our own favourite genius and philanthropist and all-round answer to any psychopath currently in the WH threatening our very existence: Bill Gates! Sober analysis of insane goings on in Davos where CDC types are known to tread.)

Realist
Realist

So much debate about deaths and death rates. Sadly, using ”statistics”, one can ”prove” just about anything they want to prove.

Much of what people try to prove is politically motivated. On this blog, some use statistics to ”prove” that this virus is ”just another flu”. Or that the US has an extremely low death rate, percentage wise.

Let’s look at various measures of ”death rate”.

Trump’s favourite is deaths/cases because it shows the US has a relatively low death rate.

165,000/5,100,000 = 3.2%

Compare that to Finland

331/7568 = 4.4%

As a result, Trump would tell you that the US is doing so much better than Finland in managing the pandemic.

Other numbers tell a much different story of which country is doing better at currently managing the pandemic. Such as daily case:daily deaths yesterday.

US 54199:976

Finland 14:0

To be fair, the US has 60x the population of Finland, so I will multiply Finlands numbers by 60

Finland x60 = 840:0

Yet some politically motivated people would ignore that statistic and focus on the deaths/cases to try to ”prove” their point.

Other measures of death rate show a much different story.

Deaths per million population

US 498 deaths/million and climbing by 2 or 3 every single day. Because the pandemic is still out of control in the US. As a result, this number will be over 700 by Election Day.

Finland 60 deaths/million, and holding steady. Because the pandemic is under control (though not eliminated) in Finland.

You can try to trick people with certain statistics. But the US is still in serious pandemic trouble. And the US economy is not going to recover strongly until it gets the pandemic under control. And throwing more money at the economy, is a waste, if you don’t get control of this virus.

Two more numbers. 165000 deaths now and over 200000 by Election Day.

Felix_Mish
Felix_Mish

If you are interested in the death effects of C19, hit this URL:

Scroll down to a graph showing weekly deaths starting Jan 2017.

By default, the graph shows the whole US. For entertainment, look at the following states:

MA, NY, NJ, NY City, and Connecticut. They essentially change C19 from being a very bad flu year to what it has been. Then look at FL, TX, AZ, CA, and a few others that show the uptick in recent deaths.

I should note: The title on that page is misleading. The graph shows deaths, not C19 deaths. The latter counts are useless. The former, are of interest, though must be calibrated by what is known of mass behavior and its possible effects.

Quatloo
Quatloo

The ‘excess deaths’ are likely all related to COVID. But many of them involve people with serious non-covid health problems who would have gone into the emergency room to get treatment but didn’t because of covid fears.

Carl_R
Carl_R

Excellent article. It has to be obvious to anyone that thinks about it that if you try to specifically count all people who died of "blank", whatever blank is, you are going to be low. For most things you are going to be very, very low.

What most people seem oblivious to is that for the flu, the CDC is only able to identify about 5,000 deaths per year as actual flu deaths. They know that count is low, so at the end of the year, they adjust the count by a correction factor. For the flu, the correction factor is usually about five or a bit more, so the turn the 5,000 deaths they actually identified into 25,000.

For Covid, so far they have identified 165,000 deaths. At the end of the flu season, next April, they will look back and estimate the degree of undercounting for Covid, and estimate an adjustment. Based on the data so far, I expect that factor will come out about 1.2-1.3. That would mean that the current death number of 165,000 would end up being 198-214,000.

The normal flu does most of it's killing in the December-March timeframe, a year after it first emerges. I think Covid will be flatter than that, and rather than having a major December-March peak, it will stay relatively constant all winter. If we continue to see an average of 1200 people a day die until March 31, 2021, that would be another 300,000 people, bringing the counted total to about 465,000. With a correction factor of 1.25, that would be 581,000 deaths, pretty much like the flu. Oh wait, pretty much like the flu times 20.

rafterman
rafterman

More political fear mongering from the confirmed bias at the New York Times.

rafterman
rafterman

In 2017 the latest final numbers from the CDC , over the 123 days of March 15th to July 25th, about 922,500 people died in the US

corkball
corkball

ARGHH. Correlation <> causation. Sure, it is a logical hypothesis to propose that since deaths are higher than normal since March, and CV hit in March, then the increase in deaths is due to CV. But that is not proof. It could be CV, it could be effects of the lockdown (not seeking other treatments, suicides), it could be space aliens using CV as cover for their nefarious plots. Using overall death rates is a useful and suggestive tool, but to call it 'case closed' based on that evidence is irresponsible.

Bam_Man
Bam_Man

Nobody is mentioning an increase in suicides as one of factors contributing to the higher overall death rate.

30% unemployment, unpaid bills, pending eviction plus bleak prospects will take a heavy toll psychologically on many.

njbr
njbr

For those spouting off about "dropping death counts"....

Scooot
Scooot

If you get the chance to watch this it’s very enlightening. The death toll is obviously very important and disturbing but there’s still a huge amount we don’t know about the toll of the virus on survivors.

bradw2k
bradw2k

This year is the worst in a lot of ways, and abuse of statistics is one of them. The CDC numbers are estimates but treated like actual physical measurements/counts. We are immune, right? Quick, what's the error bar on that 200,700 number and how was it computed?

Wake up sheeple
Wake up sheeple

Why always worse and panic? Does anyone ever look at the positive side here or anywhere? Probably millions more have really had this nonsense fake virus which brings the death rate even lower.