Story at a glance
- The study published in JAMA Internal Medicine said the National Center for Health Statistics during March, April and May reported 781,000 U.S. deaths from any cause.
- That number is 122,300 more than the historical average for that time period, according to the study.
- Coronavirus-related deaths tallied between that time were 95,232, or 28 percent less than the excess number of deaths.
A new study suggests coronavirus deaths in the United States between March and May were likely 28 percent higher than the official reported number due partly to reporting discrepancies, Reuters reports.
The study published in JAMA Internal Medicine said the National Center for Health Statistics during March, April and May reported 781,000 U.S. deaths from any cause. That number is 122,300 more than the historical average for that time period, according to the study.
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Coronavirus-related deaths tallied from March through May were 95,232, or 28 percent less than the excess number of deaths.
The undercount may be due to early nursing home deaths or deaths attributed to pneumonia rather than COVID-19, Reuters reports.
“Determining the cause of death on a death certificate is not an exact science,” Daniel Weinberger, the study’s lead author from the Yale School of Public Health, told Reuters.
“It is possible that someone who had COVID-19 and that triggered pneumonia might have pneumonia listed as the cause of death. Whereas another jurisdiction might have COVID as the cause,” he said. “The coding for what a person died from can vary a lot from person to person and jurisdiction to jurisdiction.”
Researchers behind the study noted the gap between reported coronavirus-related deaths and the excess deaths varied by state.
“Some states had good concordance between the number of reported coronavirus deaths and the total number. Washington state and Minnesota has almost no gap, but in South Carolina and Texas there is a considerable difference,” Weinberger told Reuters.
Weinberger said discrepancies in reporting on coronavirus deaths have decreased as testing has become more available.
The study comes as the U.S. is experiencing a surge of cases in several Southern and Western states. The U.S. reported 52,789 new cases Wednesday, the largest single-day total since the start of the pandemic.
The U.S. has recorded more than 2.7 million cases with more than 128,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data.
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