(KDVR) — New data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that COVID-19 was the third-largest cause of death through 2021.
According to a CDC announcement, COVID-19 was the underlying cause for about 460,000 deaths in the nation. Accounting for roughly twice as many deaths as accidents, COVID-19 was associated with more deaths than any single cause but cancer and heart disease for the second year in a row.
COVID-19-related deaths were about as concentrated in older age groups as with non-COVID deaths. About 80% of COVID-19 deaths occurred in ages 55 and older.
Men accounted for about 50% more COVID-19 deaths than did women.
COVID-19 death rates were highest among American Indian/Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiian/other Pacific Islanders and lowest among non-Hispanic Asians and whites.
Whites were 66% of COVID-19 deaths, followed by Hispanics at 16% and Black non-Hispanics at 13%.
Coronavirus-related complications were also the third leading cause of death in 2020, the CDC reports. There were 350,831 COVID-19 deaths in 2020, which was the year the disease became widespread. Overall, there were about 60,000 more deaths in 2021 than 2020.
There’s been some confusion since the start of the pandemic over what constitutes a COVID-19 death.
CDC Dr. Robert Anderson, chief of mortality statistics, said thatCOVID-19 is often listed as the “underlying cause” on death certificates of those who die from the virus.
“The underlying cause of death is the condition that initiated the chain of events leading to death,” Anderson said in a CDC interview. “When the death certificate is filled out, the person who’s reporting the cause of death is asked to identify a chain of events, sort of a causal pathway, working from the immediate cause back to the underlying cause.”
Anderson explained that COVID-19 could allow for a potential other condition, like flu, to infect a person and then the flu could be what kills them. In this instance, COVID-19 would still be considered a cause of death, per CDC.