Oct. 12 (UPI) -- Deaths of Americans linked to COVID-19 may have gone underreported by nearly 75,000, a new study said.
Researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond updated an earlier analysis of "excess deaths," or the gap between the number of deaths observed and expected during a given time period. They determined that nearly 75,000 more deaths of Americans may be linked to the COVID-19 pandemic than previously recorded from March to July.
The report was published Monday in the peer-reviewed journal JAMA.
Researchers examined death certificates to find that of 225,530 excess deaths, 150,541, or 67%, were attributed to COVID-19 from March to July. The COVID-19 pandemic could have indirectly caused nearly 75,000 more deaths.
Dr. Steven Woolf, director emeritus of the Center on Society and Health at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, said that delay or fear of seeking care during the COVID-19 pandemic could have indirectly contributed to deaths from other illnesses like Alzheimer's disease, diabetes and heart disease.
The study noted that incidence of deaths from Alzheimer's disease, diabetes and heart disease increased sharply in the five states with the most COVID-19 deaths during the first weeks of the pandemic.
"There have been some conspiracy theories that the number of deaths from COVID-19 have been exaggerated," Woolf said. "The opposite is the case. We're actually experiencing more death than we thought we were."