Direct and Indirect Mortality Impacts of COVID-19 in the US, March--December 2020, Joanne Wha-Eum Lee UG '21 (2271792)
Excess mortality, defined as deviation from seasonal mortality patterns, indicates an increase in the number of deaths due to external factors, such as ongoing disease outbreaks. When disease prevalence cannot be accurately monitored due to limited testing, analyses of these patterns can provide crucial information regarding the total mortality burden of the outbreak. In our study, we analyze patterns of excess mortality due to both respiratory and non-respiratory causes from March to December 2020 in the United States. We assess the overall impact of the current pandemic across different states, age groups, and pandemic waves and discuss the secondary of impacts of COVID-19 and the associated interventions. The main contribution of our study is that we disentangle the direct contribution of SARS-CoV-2 infections from the indirect consequences of public health interventions. We discover that the largest consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic are attributable to the direct impact of SARS-CoV-2 infections. The secondary impacts of the pandemic are most pronounced among younger age groups and are statistically related to the strength of interventions. In addition, several non-respiratory mortality causes show synchronous upticks with the pandemic trajectory, suggesting that a fraction of deaths ascribed to chronic conditions could be directly related to COVID-19 and missed by official tallies.