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More than 900,000 people died of COVID-19 in the U.S., a new study suggests. That’s almost double the official count

University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation said in a new analysis that 900,000 people may have died because of COVID-19

Utahns walk up to get a COVID-19 vaccinate at a pop-up vaccination event at Reams in Magna, Utah.
Utahns walk up to get a COVID-19 vaccine at a pop-up vaccination event at Reams in Magna on Monday, May 3, 2021. University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation said in a new analysis that 900,000 people may have died because of COVID-19.
Annie Barker, Deseret News

The University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation has a new analysis that suggests 900,000 people may have died of COVID-19 in the United States so far.

  • That’s almost 57% higher than the official count, which is at 580,000 or so.

But it’s not just the United States. According to NPR, the study found that the worldwide death count from COVID-19 is closer to 7 million instead of the reported 3.24 million.

  • Worldwide, the researchers suggest there was a major undercount in case numbers in countries like Mexico, Russia and India.

How the study found more deaths

The count specifically points to deaths “caused directly by the SARS-CoV-2 virus,” which causes COVID-19, according to NPR.

  • Researchers also looked at “other mortality factors influenced by the pandemic,” including deaths “caused by increased opioid overdoses or deferred health care,” per NPR.
  • The study then measured that against flu and injury deaths that did not happen as commonly this year because of the pandemic.
  • According to NPR, “the extra deaths not directly caused by COVID-19 were effectively offset by the other reductions in death rates, leaving them to attribute all of the net excess deaths to the coronavirus.”

One more note

The researchers found there were likely deaths outside of the hospital that were caused by COVID-19, and those are unlikely to be included in final numbers, according to Slate.

  • “In most parts of the world, deaths that occur outside a hospital setting don’t get attributed to COVID because they likely were never tested for the virus,” according to Slate. “The severity of the pandemic has, understandably, meant that health officials have focused their resources on treating patients and saving lives, not surveying the symptoms of the deceased.”