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The United States exceeds one million deaths from covid-19: how are mortality data from diseases like this interpreted?


The United States exceeded one million deaths from covid-19. In this episode, Dr. Elmer Huerta explains how this number is arrived at.

More than a million deaths from covid-19 in the US 4:38

(CNN Spanish) --

 The United States exceeded the grim figure of one million deaths from covid-19.

In this episode, Dr. Elmer Huerta explains to us how the fatal figures of an infectious disease such as the one caused by the new coronavirus are interpreted.

You can listen to this episode on Spotify or your favorite podcast platform, or read the transcript below.

Hi, I'm Dr. Elmer Huerta and this is your dose of information about the new coronavirus.

Information that we hope will be useful to take care of his health and that of his family.

The million deaths from covid-19 in the US

At a press conference at the White House, President Joe Biden announced that the United States has reached the sad milestone of one million deaths from covid-19.

Calling these deaths irreplaceable losses, Biden stressed that the pandemic is not over yet and that humanity must work to prevent both the appearance of the next variant and, who knows, a new pandemic.


The US reaches the grim number of 1 million deaths from covid-19 0:37

Today we will see how the mortality figures of an infectious disease are interpreted.

The fatality rates of diseases such as covid-19

Let us remember that infectious diseases have what is called a "case fatality rate", which is defined as the percentage of people who die from the infection.

For example, imagine that 50 out of 100 confirmed cases of a certain infection die.

In this case, we say that the case fatality rate for that disease is 50%.

On the other hand, if you have another disease, in which only one in 100 people who suffer from it dies, then the case fatality rate of this other disease is said to be one percent.

The fatality rate of an infection depends on several factors.

Some of them are the nature of the infectious agent, the characteristics of the host and the capacity of the health system of the region in which the cases occur.

In relation to the infectious agent, if it is a virus, the lethality can be greater than if it is caused by a bacterium.

This, due to the lack of effective specific antiviral drugs.

For example, the lethality of the Ebola virus is estimated at 50%.

For their part, by fighting bacterial diseases more efficiently, antibiotics can contribute —in general— to better control of the infection.

What factors influence mortality?

In relation to the host, mortality can also be affected by the biological and socioeconomic characteristics of the affected people.

In this sense, people with defense systems weakened by age or chronic diseases are more likely to die than young people with intact defense systems.

An exception to this last rule was what happened during the 1918 pandemic, when the flu virus took the lives of millions of young people.

The socioeconomic characteristics of those affected are very important, since people living in poverty may die in greater numbers due to greater exposure to infection and lack of access to health services.

The case of the new coronavirus

That has been the case for minority populations in the United States, such as blacks and also Hispanics, who have generally had higher mortality from Covid-19 than the non-Hispanic white population.

Another important characteristic to determine mortality is the level of information of the public to accept the treatments and vaccines that can combat the infection.

A better informed population will accept the treatments and vaccines that allow the infection to be controlled, while on the contrary, a poorly informed population will not use them and mortality will be higher.

But in addition to the characteristics of the infectious agent and the host, the ability of the health system to care for infected patients can also affect mortality rates.

If health systems collapse due to deficiencies in their structure and function, there will not be enough health care centers that can provide the treatments and support that patients need.

Why did the US reach this grim milestone?

A combination of the above reasons explains why the United States has reached one million deaths.

In this sense —among others— four main reasons can be cited that explain this ominous milestone.

They would be:

  • The high figures of obesity and chronic diseases of the American population

  • The collapse of the health system

  • A high proportion of the population of older adults

  • The rejection of vaccination by a large part of the citizenry

All these reasons can explain the high mortality.

In this regard, a recent analysis by the Kaiser Foundation calculates that at least 234,000 deaths from covid-19 between June 2021 and March 2022 throughout the country could have been prevented with vaccines.

Finally, it is important to understand the difference between the absolute number of deaths and the mortality rate.

In the case of the United States, the million deaths places it as the country with the highest number of deaths in absolute numbers, but in 18th place in deaths per 100,000 inhabitants.

Do you have questions about the coronavirus?

Send me your questions on Twitter, we'll try to answer them in our next episodes.

You can find me at @DrHuerta.

If you find this podcast useful, be sure to subscribe to get the latest episode on your account.

Help others find it by rating and reviewing it on your favorite podcast app.

And for the most up-to-date information you can always head to

Thanks for your attention.


Source: cnnespanol

All news articles on 2022-05-17

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