Sunday, October 17, 2021

Death Rate

It looks like a 16% increase in deaths in 2020 over 2019. One possible counter to this is that many of these death are only slightly premature, as they were elderly or otherwised compromised folks who were going to kick off in a year or two anyway. Such things are hard to measure while they are happening, but if that's the case we should expect that 2021 is about the same as 2020, and when the pandemic is over - there are plenty of folks who will tell you the pandemic is over - we should see 2022 drop below 2019 in deaths. Because we cleared out a lot of the people who were just about to die anyway, right? Dropping only TO 2019 levels would not be evidence that there was no excess death and only the compromised succumbed. 2022 will have to drop significantly below 2019 to make that point. I strenuously doubt that will happen.


Cranberry said...

No, because the age distribution of the population is not constant. (caution, mesmerizing.)

As the number of very old Americans increases, the number of deaths will also increase. You can't look at the numbers from 3 years ago, and assume that that's the proper number of deaths to expect next year. It isn't static.

To illustrate the point, at the extremes, the US Census has a comparison of two poplation pyramids, from 1960 and (projected) 2060.

It looks like there were less than a million people over age 65 in 1960. The Census dept. predicts something like 20 million in 2060. Each year, we all get a year older. Due to the Baby Boom, the number of people who are over 75 will continue to rise for the next two decades.

To take a recent death in the news, an 84 year old with blood cancer died this week of Covid. The average life expectancy for a male is ~78. Was this a premature death? I would say no. We are not built to live indefinitely.

I would expect the death rate for people over 75 not to decline, as Covid will likely remain with us, and vaccine protection wanes more quickly as we age. If supply and labor shortages contiue, I would expect more people to die from other, treatable conditions. In my personal circle of acquaintance, more people have died of cancer and other long-term, chronic conditions than of Covid.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

An excellent point in the long run, but I don't see that the difference is going to be great over a year or two. The jump was was dramatic from 2019 to 2020 and the covid deaths look similar for 2021. There aren't that many more Boomers turning 65 in one year, even if there are some. I can see the point of making an adjustment, even by year, and as you note, looking specifically at age cohorts. But I don't think those are going to overwhelm the main change of the introduction of a new disease.

Cranberry said...

Looking at earlier years, back to 2016, on the site you linked to, many years do show an increase of less than 1%, compared to the year before. That may be the affect of a growing number of very frail people. , Modern societies are much, much better than earlier times at keeping people alive.

The cdc's excess death chart is showing the ebbing of the fourth wave. Looking at the pattern, it looks to me like four waves of peak deaths, roughly 4 months apart from each other. So we will know in February if the pattern continues.

According to Covidestim, the states with R0 over 1 today are: CT, IL,KS, MA, MT, NE, NH, NM, NY, OH, RI, UT, VT. So, basically, New England and a scattering of other states. We are not out of the woods.