How COVID-19 death estimates stack up to past pandemics, leading causes of death

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation lowered its COVID-19 U.S. death estimate to 60,000 deaths this week, down from 100,000 in April, reports STAT.

This figure marks a sharp drop from the 100,000 to 240,000 deaths the White House projected in late March. To help readers get a better sense of these numbers, STAT compared the projected COVID-19 death toll to death estimates for past pandemics and leading causes of death.

Here's a breakdown: 

COVID-19 vs. past pandemics and flu seasons

Note: The CDC does not track individual adult flu deaths and instead estimates seasonal death tolls using mathematical modeling.

COVID-19 pandemic: 60,000 to 240,000 projected deaths

1918 flu pandemic: 675,000 deaths
2017-18 flu season: 61,000 deaths
2018-19 flu season: 34,200 deaths
2009 swine flu pandemic: 12,469 deaths

COVID-19 vs. the nation's leading causes of death

Note: IHME's projections account for COVID-19 deaths occurring over a five-month period ending in July, so STAT calculated death counts for a five-month period for all leading causes of death. All figures are based on 2017 data unless otherwise noted.

COVID-19 pandemic: 60,000 to 240,000 projected deaths

Heart disease: 269,583 deaths
Cancer: 252,500 deaths (based on 2019 data)
Stroke: 60,833 deaths
Alzheimer's disease: 50,417 deaths
Drug overdoses: 29,265 deaths
Suicide: 19,583 deaths

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Rate of COVID-19 cases, state by state


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