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All-Cause U.S. Mortality Was Up 29% in Early 2022

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What You Need to Know

  • The total number of deaths in the first eight weeks of the year was 135,665 higher than in the comparable period in 2019.
  • About 123,671 of the people who died had COVID-19 when they died.
  • Early figures show that the number of deaths caused by COVID-19, flu and pneumonia was still above the epidemic threshold in March.

COVID-19 ended up causing a large number of U.S. deaths in January and February, according to the latest mortality surveillance data from the National Center for Health Statistics.

The total number of deaths increased to 601,134 in the first weeks for the year, up from 474,347 in the first weeks of 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic began.

The total number of deaths from all causes increased by 135,665, or 29%.

About 123,671 of the people who died in the United States in the first eight weeks of this year, or 21% of all of the people in the country who died, had COVID-19 when they died.

The number of deaths resulting from causes other than COVID-19 was at least 11,994 higher than in the comparable period of 2019.

Some of the increase in the total number of deaths from all causes may have been the result of the strain the pandemic put on the U.S. health care system, and other deaths may have been the direct or indirect result of the effects of the pandemic on conditions such as depression, anxiety and substance use disorders.

In the first eight weeks of 2021, when the United States was going through a catastrophic surge in COVID-19 deaths, all-cause mortality was 33% higher than in the first eight weeks of 2019.

What It Means

Financial professionals’ predictions that COVID-19 would be only a temporary source of uncertainty about mortality and longevity have not yet come true.

At this point, COVID-19 has thrown off the projections used to price life insurance and design income planning arrangements for two years.

The Numbers

The National Center for Health Statistics is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC uses the center’s freshest death data in its weekly FluView influenza surveillance reports, to determine whether the percentage of deaths caused by COVID-19, influenza and pandemic has crossed the epidemic threshold.

The center depends on state public health agencies to file death statistics promptly. The center’s death figures are now taking at least four weeks to start to firm up.

The total number of deaths in the center’s data for the seventh and eighth weeks of the year are about 5% higher this week than they were last week.

Partial death figures for March show that the COVID-19 death rate was still at epidemic levels last month. The CDC sets the epidemic thresholds before a year starts. The CDC defined an epidemic week in March as one in which 7.1% to 7.2% of all deaths were caused by COVID-19, flu or pneumonia. Preliminary figures show that the percentage of actual deaths caused by COVID-19, flu or pneumonia was 8.3% or higher through March.

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