Uncounted: Study Reveals Many Unrecognized COVID-19 Deaths During Pandemic

Boston, MA – A recent study out of the Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) challenges current understandings of the excess mortality during the COVID-19 pandemic. The research presents compelling evidence suggesting that some deaths previously attributed to natural causes were actually uncounted fatalities from COVID-19.

The study sheds light on the true toll of the pandemic, providing more insight into the actual number of deaths caused by COVID-19. This discovery is vital in accurately understanding the impact of the virus and the effectiveness of public health measures.

According to the federal data, the official count of COVID-19 deaths in the United States is nearly 1.17 million. However, numerous excess mortality studies indicate that this number is likely an underestimate. Excess mortality refers to the number of deaths that exceed the expected number under normal circumstances. Understanding the direct impact of COVID-19 on excess deaths is crucial in assessing the full impact of the pandemic.

The study also reveals significant evidence linking a portion of excess deaths during the pandemic directly to COVID-19. By analyzing monthly data on natural-cause deaths and reported COVID-19 fatalities across 3,127 U.S. counties, the researchers found a correlation between surges in non-COVID natural cause deaths and COVID-19 deaths.

Dr. Andrew Stokes, a co-author of the study, highlighted the fact that many COVID-19 deaths were uncounted during the pandemic. The temporal correlation between reported COVID-19 deaths and excess deaths reported to non-COVID-19 natural causes provides valuable insight into the causes of these deaths.

The broader implications of this study are substantial. It disproves claims that mortality during the pandemic can be attributed to COVID-19 vaccinations or shelter-in-place policies. Dr. Nahid Bhadelia, founding director of the Boston University Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases Policy and Research, emphasized the importance of this research in understanding the disease and how we organize our response.

The study’s findings are published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, adding to the growing body of evidence aimed at better understanding the impact of COVID-19 on mortality and the need for accurate record-keeping during epidemics.