Researchers at the University of the Community of Virginia (VCU, acronym in English), in the United States, found that this year, for every two Americans killed by Covid-19, another one died due to indirect consequences of the pandemic.
The information is contained in a study published by the scientific journal JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association). The survey also reveals that, during the new coronavirus pandemic, deaths from Alzheimer’s disease and dementia doubled in that country, while there was also a significant increase in deaths from diabetes and heart disease.
Based on data released by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), scientists have analyzed rates of death from illness in the United States since 2014. Until last year, the rates have remained stable.
However, using regressive prediction models, they observed that, throughout the pandemic, the proportion of deaths increased by 20% compared to the average of previous years. Of the surplus of deaths, about two thirds (67%) were attributed to the new coronavirus, while the remainder was the result of disruptive factors caused by Covid-19.
“Some people who have never had the virus may have died from disruptions caused by the pandemic. This includes individuals in acute emergencies who have not found care, patients with chronic illnesses like diabetes that have not been properly treated or mental illnesses that have led to overdoses or suicides “, says the research coordinator, Steven Woolf, director of the Center for Society and Health at the American university.
The scientist points out that the impact of the pandemic on mortality may be even wider. This is because the CDC data does not include, for example, deaths caused by the use of chemical substances, which also increased. Only at the VCU Medical Center, the number of overdose patients increased 123% compared to last year, as revealed by another survey carried out by the university.
In addition, Woolf points to other long-term implications, such as the possible increase in preventable premature deaths. An example is cancer patients who, due to the pandemic, have had their treatment stopped, or women who have postponed the mammogram.
“And death is just a health measure. Many people who survive the pandemic will have complications from chronic diseases for life. Imagine someone with risk factors for stroke aggravated by the lack of care in the last few months and who was afraid of look for the hospital “, says the doctor. “That person can suffer a stroke and have important and permanent neurological sequelae,” he adds.
The study helps to reinforce the message against fake news aimed at underestimating the impacts of the disease: “Contrary to skeptics who claim that the deaths of COVID-19 are false, or that the numbers are much lower than reported in the news, the our research, as well as many other studies on the subject, shows the exact opposite, “adds Woolf.