Covid-19 was the third leading cause of death in the United States last year, after heart disease and cancer, according to provisional data released on Wednesday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC found the US death rate increased by 15.9% between 2019 and 2020.
Early data showed that the top 10 leading causes of death in 2020 were:
- Heart disease
- Unintentional injury
- Chronic lower respiratory disease
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Influenza and pneumonia
- Kidney disease
Researchers at the National Center for Health Statistics analyzed death certificate data from the National Vital Statistics System, taking a close look at deaths among US residents between January and December of 2020.
“COVID-19 was the third leading underlying cause of death in 2020, replacing suicide as one of the top 10 leading causes of death,” the researchers wrote in the report. Suicide previously was the tenth leading cause of death but was bumped off the list for 2020 as deaths due to Covid-19 climbed.
The researchers report found that about 3.36 million deaths occurred last year. Covid-19 was reported as the underlying cause or a contributing cause of death for nearly 378,000 – or about 11.3% – of those deaths. The data showed that heart disease caused 690,882 deaths and cancer caused 598,932 deaths.
The data also showed that, overall, death rates were highest among the Black and Native American or Alaska Native communities, adults aged 85 and older and men. The Covid-19 death rate specifically was highest among Hispanics, according to the CDC report.
The data is provisional – and so numbers and death rates might change as additional information is received. Since investigating causes of death takes time, final data for a given year are typically published about 11 months after the end of the calendar year.
In January, CDC statisticians shared with CNN that Covid-19 was likely the third leading cause of death in the United States for last year.
Life expectancy in the United States also dropped a full year in the first half of 2020, according to a provisional report published by the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics in February.
The report shows that US life expectancy fell to 77.8 years, back to what it was in 2006.
You can read the full report here.