Infectious Diseases

COVID-19 Is Now the USA’s 3rd Biggest Killer

Posted on 12 October 2020

In the US, weekly deaths due to COVID-19 continue to surpass those from the flu, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes and stroke. At it’s peak, COVID-19 killed more Americans than heart disease or cancer.

COVID-19 Is Now the Third Leading Cause of Death in the U.S.
Youyou Zhou

To put some numbers on the impact of COVID-19, the virus killed close to 10000 people between the 30th of March and the 4th of April – the week in which it first became the third leading cause of death. Comparatively, the flu and pneumonia caused 1870 deaths in the same week. These figures should really give anyone still comparing COVID-19 to influenza pause for thought.

In terms of excess deaths – the increase in mortality above what would be expected for a normal year – COVID-19 has sent the US back 50 years. More people have died in the first eight months of this year than in the equivalent period of any year going back to 1970.

Chart shows crude death rates (1900-2020). A larger share of the U.S. population died in the first 8 months of 2020 than any of the past 50 years.
Youyou Zhou; Sources: U.S. Census, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and National Center for Health Statistics

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