Excess Mortality during the Pandemic – The Intersection of COVID-19 and Leading Causes of Death

June 25, 2021 @ 10:15 am – 11:45 am

Session Co-chair: Meredith Shiels, National Cancer Institute
Session Co-chair: Bryan James, Rush Medical College

Epidemiologists have mobilized rapidly over the last year to investigate every aspect of the novel SARS-CoV-2 virus, which caused more than 350,000 deaths in the United States during 2020. The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have been widespread, intersecting with almost every chronic and infectious disease and health behavior that we study. Risk of dying from COVID-19 is elevated among those with pre-existing conditions; additionally, estimates of excess deaths in the U.S. have shown increased mortality from Alzheimer disease, heart disease, diabetes, and drug overdoses during the pandemic. The proposed symposium will describe patterns of excess deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S. and explore the impact of COVID-19 on mortality from other diseases and health outcomes, as well as the impact of coexisting disease on risk of dying after contracting COVID-19. The session will begin with an introduction to the session, followed by a talk on cause of death assignment and the impact on COVID-19 and excess death estimates. Subsequent presenters will focus on the intersection of deaths from COVID-19 and their disease or behavior of study: Alzheimers and other dementias, drug overdoses and cancer. Presenters will offer potential biological and methodological explanations for excess death in their area and make suggestions for prevention and intervention.

Bryan James, Rush Medical College
“Session Introduction”

Elizabeth Arias, National Center for Health Statistics
“Certification of COVID-19 Deaths in the US Vital Statistics System”

Jennifer Weuve, Boston University
“COVID-19 and dementia: revelations on risk of mortality and the infrastructure for gauging it”

Brandon Marshall, Brown University
“An epidemic exacerbated by a pandemic: What are the drivers of overdose during COVID-19?”

Meredith Shiels, National Cancer Institute
“COVID-19 risk among cancer patients and survivors”