CDC: COVID-19 third leading cause of death in 2020

COVID-19 comes in behind heart disease and cancer as the provisional top causes of death in the U.S. in 2020.

The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic was the third leading cause of death in the U.S. in 2020 in according to provisional mortality data.

According to an early release study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the age-adjusted death rate increased for the first time since 2017 by 15.9 percent in 2020 compared to 2019. COVID-19 was the underlying or contributing cause of 377,883 of the about 3.36 million deaths in the country overall.

COVID-19 death rates were highest among males and older adults with the highest numbers of overall deaths taking place in April and December. The disease replaces suicide as one of the top 10 causes of death, according to the study.

The study says that the COVID-19 death rates were lowest among children aged 1 to 4 years old and those 5 to 14 years. Females showed lower age adjusted death rates from COVID-19 than males by about a one-third. Age-adjusted death rates were lowest among Asian and Hispanic people and highest among Black people and Native Americans.

The authors of the study note that their findings are limited by the fact the data are provisional and numbers may change as more information is received, timelines of death certificate submission vary by jurisdiction, certain categories of race reported on death certificates may have been misclassified, and the limited availability of COVID-19 testing at the beginning of the pandemic may have led to an underestimation of deaths associated with the disease.