Prime Age Mortality up 40 Percent, Majority of Deaths Not From COVID-19
Mortality among young-to-middle-age Americans went through the roof last year. The majority of the increase didn’t involve COVID-19, according to official death certificate data.
Deaths among people aged 18 to 49 increased more than 40 percent in the 12 months ending October 2021 compared to the same period in 2018–2019, before the pandemic, based on death certificate data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
That’s more than 90,000 additional deaths in this age group, of which less than 43 percent involved COVID.
The federal agency doesn’t yet have full 2021 numbers, as death certificate data usually trickle in with an 8-week lag or more.
The mortality increase was most notable for the 30–39 age group, where deaths skyrocketed by nearly 45 percent, with only a third involving COVID.
CDC data on the exact causes of those excess deaths aren’t yet available for 2021, aside from those involving COVID, pneumonia, and influenza. There were close to 6,000 excess pneumonia deaths that didn’t involve COVID-19 in the 30–39 age group in the 12 months ending October 2021. Influenza was only involved in 50 deaths in this age group, down from 550 in the same period pre-pandemic. The flu death count didn’t exclude those that also involved COVID or pneumonia, the CDC noted.
A chunk of the mortality spike could be likely explained by drug overdoses, which increased from about 72,000 in 2019 to more than 100,000 in the 12 months ending May 2021, the CDC estimated. About two-thirds of those deaths involved synthetic opioids including fentanyl that are often smuggled to the United States from China through Mexico. Overdoses involving methamphetamine or other psychostimulants also significantly increased, from fewer than 17,000 in 2019 to more than 28,000 in the 12 months ending May 2021.
For older age groups, mortality increased too. For those 50–84, it went up more than 27 percent, making for a total of more than 470,000 excess deaths. Almost four out of five of the excess deaths reportedly involved COVID.
For those 85 or older, mortality increased about 12 percent with more than 100,000 excess deaths. Given the more than 130,000 COVID-related deaths in this group, the data indicates that these people were less likely to die of a non-COVID-related cause from November 2020 to October 2021 than during the same months of 2018–2019.
Comparing 2020 to 2019, mortality increased some 24 percent for those 18–49, with less than a third of those excess deaths involving COVID. For those 50–84, it increased less than 20 percent, with over 70 percent of that involving COVID. For those even older, mortality jumped about 16 percent, with nearly 90 percent of that involving COVID.
For those under 18, mortality decreased about 0.4 percent in 2020 compared to 2019. In the 12 months ending October 2021, it decreased some 3.3 percent compared to the same period in 2018–2019.