COVID-19 to remain a leading cause of death indefinitely, experts say

Disease experts anticipate COVID-19 to remain among the top 10 causes of death in the U.S.  indefinitely, NBC News reported Sept. 19

"It's likely, when we think of the causes of death in our society, that covid's on the list forever," Bob Wachter, MD, chair of the department of medicine at the University of California in San Diego, told NBC. "Whether we call it a pandemic or not, it's still an important threat to people." 

About 415,000 Americans died of COVID-19 in 2021, making it the third leading cause of death in the U.S. for the second consecutive year, provisional CDC data shows. About 400 Americans are currently dying each day from COVID-19, according to HHS data compiled by The New York Times. The weekly average for COVID-19 deaths has remained relatively flat since April and if the trend continues, the U.S. could see between 113,000 and 188,000 deaths a year from the disease. That would put it on par with Alzheimer's, chronic lower respiratory diseases and stroke, NBC reports. 

Some experts predict that overtime, COVID-19 could drop in the cause-of-death rankings and be on par with the flu, which causes between 12,000 and 52,000 deaths annually. Together, the flu and pneumonia were the ninth-leading cause of death in 2020 and fell out of the top 10 last year. 

"It would not surprise me if we have a similar magnitude of deaths from COVID as we do from flu," Chris Murray, MD, the director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington in Seattle, told the news outlet. 


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