# COVID-19 Deaths are Under-Counted

This is math lesson for those who think our Coronavirus response has been adequate and that it compares well with seasonal flu (numbers are per million residents)

The US is currently #10 in deaths at 672 and #12 in cases at 24,801 out of 214 countries.

In order to just be average, we would need to have had 21% of our current deaths (142) and 20% of our cases (5,040)

I don’t know about you, but I would think a first world country could do better than 5 times the world average cases and deaths so far. It’s abysmal.

India, for comparison – with roughly a third of our land area and four times our population – is right there at the world average with 5,335 cases and lower than average with only 81 deaths. You would think an airborne disease would be much harder to contain with a population density that high, but the scoreboard says they are five times better at it than the US so far.

If we were doing as well as India, we would have only 26,730 deaths so far. (330 million pop x 81 per million) Even just being average we would have only 46,860 COVID-19 deaths so far.

Being AVERAGE could have saved over (222,836 – 46,860) 176,976 lives to date.

Don’t tell me deaths are over-counted. That is simply political propaganda. I’m sure if we had a different party in office, their rabid supporters would be doing the same stupid thing. You can PROVE COVID-19 deaths are UNDER-counted simply by counting dead bodies.

US deaths follow a predictable curve that typically peaks with the flu season in winter. We had a bad flu season in winter 2017-2018. Winter 2018-2019 was pretty good and so was 2019-2020. Then in April Corona hits and we shoot up to 38% above the normal number of deaths.
(Note: The chart is continuously updated as death data comes in. Today is the 16th but the week ending the 20th is already there and growing. I’m using data from 8 weeks and older because nearly all entities will have reported.)

The 20 weeks from April 4th through August 15th average 21% excess deaths totaling 231,608 above the seasonal average. However, only 173,193 COVID-19 deaths were reported as of August 15th (including any later adjustments). That’s UNDER-counted by 34%.

Sure, some of those could be deaths by other causes, but keep in mind that lockdowns also suppress vehicle and workplace accidents which account for a significant portion of deaths too. The exact number isn’t important, what’s important is the numbers clearly show the over-count narrative holds no water.

Seasonal flu/pneumonia deaths are about 56,000 or 170 per million US residents annually. We’ve had four times the typical annual flu deaths in only 20 weeks. Annually adjusted, these 20 weeks are equivalent to 579,374 annual deaths (222,836 / 20 * 52), putting COVID-19 right below our #2 cause of death, cancer at 599,108.

So no. It’s not ‘just the flu’. From April through August it was basically another cancer on top of the normal cancer.

Yes, it has and will probably get better with time. No, it probably won’t come down below #3 (accidents at 169,936 annual deaths) until we get our shit together or we get a decent vaccine.

(Data from worldometers.info, the CDC death totals chart and Wikipedia)

Update 11/19/2020: Four weeks later, cases are spiking with over 165,000 new positive tests per day. We’ve had roughly three million new infections in under a month. Deaths remain at 121% in excess of normal (269,676) and ten times the level of another flu-like disease (25,846).From April 4 through September 12, reported COVID-19 deaths were 198,634 making the gap between excess deaths and reported pandemic deaths grow slightly to 35%. Extrapolated annual excess deaths are slightly lower (largely due to better outcomes with proper care) at 526,131 per year. However, many areas are at the limit of their health care capacity, so we can probably expect this number to rise again in the coming weeks as hospital staff is overwhelmed by the case load.

Anecdotally, my co-worker who wears their mask and social distances the least got infected just over a week ago. (Big surprise.) I spend a day with them in the same office while they were infectious but dodged this bullet with my KN95 mask on much of the day and strict distancing. It sucks but it works.