U.S. COVID-19 death toll is actually closer to 900,000, new study suggests


A rendering of coronavirus via the CDC.

SEATTLE, Wash. (ABC4) – A recently published study suggests the COVID-19 death toll in the United States is double of the officially reported count.

According to a study published by the University of Washington Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), researchers estimate the total death toll from COVID-19 in the U.S. is 905,289 rather than the official 574,043.

The researchers attribute this discrepancy in the reported death toll to a variety of factors, including varying COVID-19 testing capabilities per country, low access to health care, and deaths that have occurred outside hospitals going unreported.

However, researchers claim that the U.S. is the only country with a significantly higher estimated death count. In fact, researchers said COVID-19 deaths are “significantly underreported in almost every country,”

Researchers found the largest discrepancies in reported deaths in the U.S., India, Mexico, and Russia.

To come up with their death estimates, researchers compared “anticipated deaths from all causes based on pre-pandemic trends with the actual number of all-cause deaths during the pandemic,” according to a press release.

This led researchers to determine an “excess mortality” figure. This figure was then “adjusted to remove deaths indirectly attributable to the pandemic (for example, due to people with non-COVID conditions avoiding health care facilities), as well as deaths averted by the pandemic (for example, declines in traffic deaths due to lower mobility). 

The study only estimated deaths “caused directly by the SARS-CoV-2 virus,” researchers said.

“As terrible as the COVID-19 pandemic appears, this analysis shows that the actual toll is significantly worse,” said Dr. Chris Murray, IHME’s director. “Understanding the true number of COVID-19 deaths not only helps us appreciate the magnitude of this global crisis, but also provides valuable information to policymakers developing response and recovery plans.”

To read the full study, click here

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