The COVID-19 pandemic has been linked to a devastating death toll on the U.S. and nations around the world, but new data suggests the true impact has been even higher than most estimates indicate.
According to the Washington Examiner, a new study makes the bold claim that the actual number of fatalities linked to the virus tops 900,000 Americans, nearly twice the official toll of just over half a million.
“Likely an underestimate”
Researchers at the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation calculated the figure by comparing the actual death rate with what would have been anticipated under pre-pandemic conditions, arriving at what is known as “excess mortality.”
The study concluded that most of that excess is directly attributable to COVID-19, meaning the actual death rate is likely much higher than initially assumed.
Those who died in an uptick of opioid overdoses and because they did not receive critical health care during pandemic-related lockdowns were said to have been offset by drops in deaths from certain other causes, including influenza.
Of course, it could be years before the U.S. determines just how many preventable deaths occurred because of the pandemic and related measures implemented to reduce its spread. Researchers acknowledged that they did not have reliable estimates for some factors, such as suicides.
“The main potential increases in excess mortality due to deferred care and increases in drug overdose and depression are hard to quantify at this point or are of a much smaller magnitude,” the report concluded. “Given that there is insufficient evidence to estimate these contributions to excess mortality, for now we assume that total COVID-19 deaths equal excess mortality. For the reasons presented in this section, we believe that this is likely an underestimate.”
“The actual toll is significantly worse”
The study also estimates that the pandemic has resulted in the death of nearly 7 million people worldwide, compared to the official toll of 3.25 million.
“As terrible as the COVID-19 pandemic appears, this analysis shows that the actual toll is significantly worse,” said Dr. Chris Murray, the institute’s director.
By official counts, nearly 200,000 Americans have died in the months since President Joe Biden was inaugurated, accounting for nearly one-third of the total.
As vaccination rates continue to climb, however, the rate of those deaths appears to be steadily dropping. For his part, Biden has insisted that Americans keep practicing measures such as social distancing and mask use.
While it is still too early to determine which approach to the pandemic is most beneficial, it seems clear that the Biden has received more favorable treatment by the mainstream media than former President Donald Trump.