Many Deaths During the Pandemic Were Simply Due to Lack of Access to Health Care

Many Deaths During the Pandemic Were Simply Due to Lack of Access to Health Care

In calculating its human toll, a pandemic is similar to a war. The most precise way public health researchers can get a handle on the impact of something like COVID-19 is to compare the number of total deaths recorded in a specific place during the pandemic with death tallies from prior years.

That analysis will yield a figure known as “excess deaths” — which simply means deaths above and beyond what would normally be expected.

That figure captures not just COVID-19 deaths, but the number of people who were unable to access health care at a moment in their lives when a chronic condition was becoming life-threatening. It also includes individuals whose primary cause of death may have been something else, but who were also infected with COVID-19.

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