Six Percent CDC

April 1, 2021
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How Many Deaths Has COVID-19 *Really* Caused?

This question surfaced after data from the CDC appeared to show a very small percentage of COVID deaths had been caused by COVID-19 alone.

What To Know & Why It Matters

What Happened:

The CDC regularly updates information on COVID-19 deaths in America.

The CDC: “For 6% of the deaths, COVID-19 was the only cause mentioned.”

This caused obvious confusion, leading some to believe it meant COVID *only* caused 6% of counted COVID deaths in America — and that the remaining 94% died WITH COVID-19, not because of it.

Important Context:

  • When someone dies, any cause and/or pre-existing condition contributing to their death is often recorded.
  • COVID-19 deaths may include several contributing factors. For example, when COVID-19 leads to pneumonia & respiratory failure, all may be listed on a death certificate.
  • In a rare number of COVID deaths (6%), COVID-19 was listed as the *only* cause/condition of death.

More Context

The CDC clarified to SmartHER News:

  • 92% of all counted COVID deaths listed COVID-19 as the *primary* underlying cause.
  • In the other 8% of cases, COVID was listed but not as the primary cause. Here’s an example: a cancer patient dies with COVID-19. Their primary cause of death is cancer, but COVID is listed as a contributing factor.

Why It Matters:

  • To date, the CDC has not analyzed chronic conditions (i.e. hypertension) & acute causes (i.e. pneumonia) into separate categories related to COVID-19 deaths; both may be listed together on death certificates.
  • Bottom Line: This data simply shows that in the majority of COVID-19 deaths, several factors led to someone’s passing — and in most cases, COVID-19 was the primary driver.

Approximately 80% of COVID-19 deaths in America to date occurred in those 65 and older. The CDC has emphasized that it's not age alone but pre-existing conditions that might be a better gauge for risk level. Older people simply tend to have more pre-existing conditions.

CDC data: click here

Some background:

Around 3 minutes into our Coffee Talk we discuss this data: WATCH HERE

by Jenna Lee,