NEW YORK ( Associated Press) – The number of deaths in the United States has decreased this year, but it is still higher than before the coronavirus pandemic.
Preliminary data from the first 11 months of the year suggest that 2022 will end with fewer deaths than in the previous two years, when COVID-19 spread. Current reports suggest that there could be a drop of 3% in deaths as compared to 2020 and 7% as compared to 2021.
Deaths generally increase from year to year in the United States due in part to population growth. The pandemic accelerated that trend, and last year the United States recorded the most deaths in its history: more than 3.4 million. If the current trend continues, the country will see its first annual decline in deaths this year since 2009.
It will take months for health officials to have a definitive count. Farida Ahmed, head of mortality surveillance at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the October and November numbers are not yet complete and a late December increase could change the total.
If the decline continues, however, the final total will be a far cry from where it was before the coronavirus arrived. This year’s tally is likely to be at least 13% higher than that of 2019.
“We certainly (still) have a worse pandemic than before,” said Amira Ross, professor of epidemiology and global health at George Mason University.
Again, much of the year-over-year variation is due to fluctuations in COVID-19, which has killed more than 1,080,000 Americans since it was first recognized in the United States in early 2020.
The country recorded over 73,000 Covid deaths in January alone this year, which is the third highest monthly number of deaths since the start of the pandemic. In 2022, “the bulk of the mortality was concentrated during the Omicron wave at the beginning of the year,” said Ilya Gutin, a researcher at the University of Texas who tracks mortality from COVID-19.
Monthly deaths from COVID fell below 4,000 in April and averaged 16,000 per month through November. The monthly average in 2021 was more than double that.
Nevertheless, COVID-19 will end this year as the third leading cause of death in the United States, as it did in 2020 and 2021. The top two causes are heart disease and cancer.
The Associated Press is supported by the Department of Health and Science’s Science and Educational Media Group of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Associated Press is solely responsible for the content.