Causes of Death, 7-25-20

From the CDC, 2018:

In 2018, the latest year for which final data is available, the top 10 leading causes of death among all ages in the United States were:

  1. Heart disease (655,381)
  2. Cancer (599,274)
  3. Unintentional injury (167,127)
  4. Chronic lower respiratory disease (159,486)
  5. Stroke (147,810)
  6. Alzheimer’s disease (122,019)
  7. Diabetes (84,946)
  8. Flu and pneumonia (59,120)
  9. Nephritis (51,386)
  10. Suicide (48,344)

In the first seven months of 2020, COVID-19 has killed 150,000 people in the US. That beats stroke, the 5th leading cause of death. But the year isn’t over yet. It could end up being the 3rd leading COD in the US in 2020. That is, if its death rate doesn’t rise or fall over the rest of the year.

From The Economist, May 2020: Covid-19 has become one of the biggest killers of 2020 worldwide. This year its global toll exceeds that of lung cancer or malaria.

(Curious to see what this graph looks like today.)

From the World Health Organization: Every year, 10 million people fall ill with tuberculosis (TB). Despite being a preventable and curable disease, 1.5 million people die from TB each year – making it the world’s top infectious killer. But from the data below, from 2000 to 2018, both the incidence and the death rate are going down, worldwide.

The slope of the COVID-19 curve is markedly different from the slope of the TB curve (blue line graph on the right). Are masks, social distancing, and economic suicide helping to decrease the spread? Would hospitalizations and deaths be even greater if we weren’t doing this? It’s hard to know because we don’t have a year of Coronavirus without social distancing for comparison.

But could other infectious diseases serve as a bellwether? Is social distancing decreasing the spread of other contagious illnesses, like colds and flu? Norovirus? STDs? Mono? 5th disease? If it is, it would be reasonable to assume that social distancing is curtailing the spread of Coronavirus, too. And that fewer people are dying.

For now, we have to hope that our sacrifices will be worthwhile in time.  Without these sacrifices, thousands of people more would be dead. All we know for sure is that if we didn’t have the novel Coronavirus, 650,000 people (worldwide) would still be with us.

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