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Study: Third of Covid-19 deaths cannot be attributed to the disease

The Washington Examiner is reporting on a new study that has discovered that a third of U.S. COVID-19 deaths could not be directly attributed to the coronavirus. The data was obtained through several sources including the CDC.

“Although total US death counts are remarkably consistent from year to year, US deaths increased by 20% during March-July 2020. COVID-19 was a documented cause of only 67% of these excess deaths,” the study, published on the Journal of the American Medical Association’s website, said. “Some states had greater difficulty than others in containing community spread, causing protracted elevations in excess deaths that extended into the summer.”

READ: Lockdowns, slow reopening causing rise in drug abuse

The paper reports that lockdowns were one reason for excess deaths not attributed to Covid

“Excess deaths attributed to causes other than COVID-19 could reflect deaths from unrecognized or undocumented infection with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 or deaths among uninfected patients resulting from disruptions produced by the pandemic,” the study’s authors noted.

The news organization goes on:

The American Medical Association study, which has yet to be peer-reviewed, found that between March and August, the U.S. recorded 1,336,561 deaths, a “20% increase over expected deaths.” It noted that “of the 225,530 excess deaths, 150,541 (67%) were attributed to COVID-19.”

Deaths from heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease and dementia saw statistically significant increases, the study noted.

Those results largely echo those of a September Washington Post analysis of excess dementia deaths:

“Beyond the staggering U.S. deaths caused directly by the novel coronavirus, more than 134,200 people have died from Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia since March. That is 13,200 more U.S. deaths caused by dementia than expected, compared with previous years.”

“Overlooked amid America’s war against the coronavirus is this reality: People with dementia are dying not just from the virus but from the very strategy of isolation that’s supposed to protect them.

In recent months, doctors have reported increased falls, pulmonary infections, depression and sudden frailty in patients who had been stable for years.”

According to the AMA study, much of the country’s excess deaths can be attributed to just a few states.

“The 10 states with the highest per capita rate of excess deaths were New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Louisiana, Arizona, Mississippi, Maryland, Delaware, Rhode Island, and Michigan,” the study said.

“The increase in absolute deaths in these states relative to expected values ranged from 22% in Rhode Island and Michigan to 65% in New York,” the study continued. “Three states with the highest death rates (New Jersey, New York, and Massachusetts) accounted for 30% of US excess deaths but had the shortest epidemic.”

The authors noted the study has limitations, including a “reliance on provisional data” and “inaccuracies in death certificates.”

Concerns over the health implications of lockdowns have grown in recent months. Joel Zinberg, a practicing surgeon at Mount Sinai Hospital and an associate clinical professor of surgery at the Icahn School of Medicine, noted in July that excess deaths due to causes outside of the coronavirus could be one of the unintended consequences of government responses to the pandemic.

The paper contiues:

“Deaths from chronic, non-emergent conditions also increased as patients put off maintenance visits and their medical conditions deteriorated,” Zinberg said. “Five states with the most Covid-19 deaths from March through April (Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania), experienced large proportional increases in deaths from non-respiratory underlying causes, including diabetes (96 percent), heart diseases (89 percent), Alzheimer’s disease (64 percent), and cerebrovascular diseases (35 percent). New York City—the nation’s Covid-19 epicenter during that period—experienced the largest increases in non-respiratory deaths, notably from heart disease (398 percent) and diabetes (356 percent).”

“Cancer diagnoses were delayed for months as patients were unable to obtain ‘elective; screening procedures,” he continued. “For some, this will result in more advanced disease. Diagnosed cancer cases—normally treated with surgery or inpatient medical treatments—were treated with outpatient treatments instead. While some oncologists rationalized that the results might be just as good, physicians were clearly deviating from the standard of care.”

Zinberg also shed light on  how the economic downturn brought on by lockdowns is affecting the health of the public.

“The lockdowns led to wide unemployment and economic recession, resulting in increased drug and alcohol abuse and increases in domestic abuse and suicides. Most studies in a systematic literature review found a positive association between economic recession and increased suicides,” Zinberg said. “Ten times as many people texted a federal government disaster mental-distress hotline in April 2020 as in April 2019.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the leading White House infectious disease expert, has also expressed opposition to new lockdown efforts.

He warned against calls for a national lockdown in an interview set to be released Sunday, saying the pandemic would have to get “really, really bad” before he would support the measure. He also noted that the country is “fatigued with restrictions.”

Fauci’s comments have have been consistent with the views of President Donald Trump who has repeatedly said the economy can be safely reopened.

“So we want to use public health measures, not to get in the way of opening the economy, but to being a safe gateway to opening the economy,” Fauci said. “So instead of having an opposition: Open up the economy [to] get jobs back, or shut down. No. Put ‘shut down,’ away and say, ‘We’re going to use public health measures to help us safely get to where we want to go.”

–Wire services