As of April 22nd, COVID-19 is the cause of more deaths in Canada than what would be expected from homicide, automobile accidents, liver disease, or suicide. In the United States, COVID-19 deaths have also overtaken the expected number of deaths due to influenza & pneumonia, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and cerebrovascular disease (such as stroke, aneurysms, etc.), and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down.
Approximately a week ago, I presented several animations to illustrate how the total number of deaths due to COVID-19 had overtaken some of the typical leading causes of death in both Canada and the United States. To do so, I gathered mortality statistics from a variety of sources, calculated the average number of deaths per day (total dead by a given cause/365 days), and then used this to determine the number of dead that could be expected on any given day of the year for each of the diseases (total dead by a given cause/365 days times number of days that have passed). These expected values were then compared to the observed COVID-19 data from each country by day.
A lot can happen in a week, however, so I thought it made sense to provide an update. Before that, it’s important to identify a few caveats:
- First, the data I am using come from John Hopkins University. However, I noticed today that their cumulative death count for Canada is greater (by 103 deaths) than what is reported by Canada.ca. For some reason, it seems that they are reporting more deaths in Ontario than we are, but I have no idea why.
- Second, according to studies that I’m seeing, many of the people who died as a result of COVID-19 had co-morbidities such as diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, etc. Research suggests that those with underlying conditions are at higher risk to death. As such, the numbers I present below do not tell a complete story about COVID-19.
Regardless, the raw data suggest how serious COVID-19 is. Below I outline the status of COVID-19 in relation to other leading causes of death in Canada (Table 1), and the United States (Table 2). I’ve also included Figure 1 and Figure 2; each illustrate the observed COVID-19 deaths against the expected values from other diseases since February 29th, and the predicted number of COVID-19 deaths a few days into the future to give a sense of when it might overtake other causes of death in each country. Finally, I’ve updated the animations and have included those below as well.
Referring to Table 1, we can see that as of April 22, COVID-19 was just about to overtake Diabetes Mellitus (if we use the numbers from Canada.ca), or has already overtaken it (if we use the numbers from John Hopkins) as a leading cause of death. Whatever the case, I expect today that COVID-19 deaths will exceed the expected number of deaths by homicide, automobile accidents, liver disease, suicide, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes regardless of the data source. That is, it already has or is about to move up one more notch in the list of leading causes of death in Canada. This is significant since the first documented death due to COVID-19 in Canada occurred in early March.
|Cause of Death||Canadian Deaths||Expected Daily Deaths||Expected Deaths By April 22|
|Chronic Lower Respiratory Disease||129981||35.61||4025|
|Influenza & Pneumonia||85111||23.32||2635|
In the United States, things appear to be worse. Yesterday, COVID-19 overtook the expected number of deaths due to cerebrovascular disease (such as strokes and aneurysms). If the average number of deaths due to COVID-19 doesn’t vary significantly from its current 2278 deaths per day, it should overtake chronic lower respiratory disease on April 24th, and accidents on April 25th (see where the black dashed line intersects with the top two coloured dashed lines in Figure 2). That is, it will become the third leading cause of death in the United States!
|Cause of Death||American Deaths||Expected Daily Deaths||Expected Deaths By April 22|
|Chronic Lower Respiratory Disease||1594666||436.89||49369|
|Influenza & Pneumonia||589426||161.49||18248|
While the data in Canada and the USA suggest different stories, the reality is that COVID-19 is a very serious public health issue in both countries. Please listen to the advice from our local health experts; if you aren’t essential, stay home, and stay safe.