U.S. reports about 300,000 more deaths during pandemic than in typical year

(Reuters) - Nearly 300,000 more people have died in the United States in 2020 during the coronavirus pandemic than would be expected based on historical trends, with at least two-thirds due to COVID-19, a government report released on Tuesday showed, adding that COVID deaths likely were undercounted.

The report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that 299,028 more people died between Jan. 26 and Oct. 3 than the average numbers from past years would have indicated.

CDC said that about 216,000 U.S. deaths from the coronavirus had been reported by the middle of this month. “This might underestimate the total impact of the pandemic on mortality,” it said.

“There are many factors that could contribute to an increase in deaths indirectly due to the pandemic, with disruptions to health care being one factor,” study author Lauren Rossen, from CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, told Reuters.

The count could miss deaths indirectly related to the pandemic, caused by disruptions in healthcare access or utilization, and from conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and respiratory diseases, the report said. But it also could reflect rises in non-COVID-19 related deaths.

The data show disproportionate increases among racial and ethnic groups that have been seen as particularly affected by COVID-19.

The CDC found the largest average percentage increase in deaths compared with previous years occurring among Hispanic people (53.6%), with deaths 32.9% above average among Black people and 36.6% above average for Asians.

A Reuters tally finds about 220,000 coronavirus-related U.S. deaths have been reported.

The CDC found that excess deaths have occurred every week since March 2020 and reached their highest points in the weeks ended April 11 and Aug. 8.

The largest percentage increase in excess deaths from all causes was among adults aged 25–44 years at 26.5%.

Reporting by Vishwadha Chander in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel and Stephen Coates