We know that Covid-19 can attack and kill by attacking the lungs and creating severe pneumonia or by breaking from the lungs into the blood system and creating spontaneous clots and/or damage to the heart and brain. While the elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions (particularly diabetes) are vulnerable, it can kill seemingly healthy people in their teens and 20s, and even younger.
We also know that deaths in the US in 2020 exceed the number of deaths attributed to this coronavirus. Initially, the excess deaths were attributed to inadequate testing. However, the story appears to be more complicated and points out major deficiencies in medical care in the US.
A research team from Yale and Virginia Commonwealth University have identified causes of many of these additional deaths by studying mortality records during this epidemic. There findings include:
- Increases in death from heart disease and diabetes, caused by the lack of hospital beds due to the virus, and the unwillingness of some patients to venture out for care and risk catching the virus themselves. There simply aren’t enough hospital beds in the US to deal with both emergencies and “normal” critical illnesses.
- Increases in suicide rates. Stress reactions to the virus have put people over the edge, whether they kill themselves or act out in public. The US mental health “system” has proven itself unable to deal with the sudden increase in caseload. [I put “system” in quotes because I’m not really sure there is one. Maybe on paper, but not in fact.]
The vast majority of these deaths would not have occurred at this time if not for the virus. So there is justification for adding them to the virus death toll.
The bottom line: government statistics are badly under-reporting the cost of this virus in human lives.
- Steven H. Woolf, Derek A. Chapman, Roy T. Sabo, Daniel M. Weinberger, Latoya Hill. Excess Deaths From COVID-19 and Other Causes, March-April 2020. JAMA, 2020; DOI: 10.1001/jama.2020.11787