GREAT NEWS! Harvard Study Showed That More Younger Adults Than The Aged Died From COVID-19 In the United States For 2021. Mortality Trend Is Shifting!
In the early part of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was seen that it was mostly the aged that were at a higher risk of mortality upon contracting the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. Hence many of the elderly perished in the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 especially in the United States and Europe.
Now, a new study by researchers from Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts-USA is showing the mortality dynamics is shifting and that in 2021, more younger adults than the aged died from COVID-19 in the United States. That trend is still continuing in 2022 and shifting more towards the younger population.
The study findings showed that in contrast, despite 20.8% fewer COVID-19 deaths during March to December 2021 than during March to December 2020, YLL (Years of life lost) due to COVID-19 increased by 7.4% as the age distribution of decedents shifted downward (that is, to relatively younger persons); the median (interquartile range) age of COVID-19–involved deaths decreased from 78 years (68 to 87 years) to 69 years (59 to 80 years). Accordingly, YLL per COVID-19 death increased by 35.7%; YLL per death did not change by more than 2.2% for any other cause.
The study findings were published in the peer reviewed journal: Annals of Internal Medicine.
Thailand Medical News
would also like to add that preliminary data that have yet to be published are also showing that in terms of excess deaths due to COVID-19 related heart failures, strokes, sepsis and other organ failures, more younger adults in the United States and Europe are at risk of such fatal outcomes which we hope would continue to be the trend and also hopefully increase especially among the STEM graduates etc as these are the groups who always arrogantly think that they know better.
It was found that since March 2020, COVID-19-related deaths claimed over a million lives in the United States alone. In the pandemic's early phases, most deaths were among older adults, but in 2021, deaths in younger persons increased while deaths in older persons decreased.
The study team that comprises of two investigators from Brigham and Women's Hospital, a founding member of the Massachusetts General Brigham Healthcare system, addresses this unexpected shift in COVID-19 mortality to relatively younger Americans and finds an increase in years of life lost due to COVID-19.
Importantly, looking at this trend more closely brings to light important questions on the COVID-19 pandemic, mortality trends, and public health.
According to the study team, earlier in the COVID-19 pandemic, age and pre-existing conditions played a major role in developing public health advice.
However, by early 2021, the COVID-19 landscape had shifted completely; vaccines became available, treatments advanced, and people's behaviors changed.
While 2020 COVID-19 death rates were high among older adults, those older adults exhibited a relatively higher vaccination rate and adhered more strictly to nonpharmaceutical interventions throughout 2021. Such systemic and behavioral changes in response to COVID-19 impacted mortality rates and determined what ages, in what years, were higher risk.
Corresponding author Dr Mark Czeisler, Ph.D., medical student at Harvard Medical School, organizer of The COPE Initiative, and member of the Brigham's Department of Psychiatry told Thailand Medical News,
"There were a lot of changes between the first and second years of the COVID-19 pandemic. Researchers have sought to understand the impacts of advances in COVID-19 treatments, immunity due to vaccinations and infections, and scientific knowledge of the COVID-19 virus and emerging variants. But prior to our study, there was less attention on quantifying premature mortality associated with COVID-19 in 2021 versus 2020."
Interestingly, between March 2020 and October 2021, COVID-19 maintained a spot as one of the top-five causes of death for American adults.
However, its specific rank within that top-five, however, changed based on age, demonstrating a greater proportion of young people prematurely dying from COVID-19 in 2021.
The study team quantified this downward age-shift in COVID-19 deaths, using Years of Life Lost (YLL) rather than mortality.
The study team collected relevant data on COVID-19 deaths from two time intervals, March to December 2020 and 2021, using the CDC Wide-ranging ONline Data for Epidemiologic Research (WONDER) database. The 2017 World Population Prospects and World Health Organization Global Health Estimate were then used to estimate average lifespan.
Utilizing these resources, the study team calculated percent of COVID-19 deaths and YLL per death.
It was found that despite 20.8-percent fewer COVID-19 deaths in 2021 versus 2020, YLL due to COVID-19 increased 7.4-percent.
Also, it was seen that as the age distribution of deaths shifted downward, the median age of COVID-19 deaths decreased from 78 years in 2020 to 69 years in 2021.
The study team found that YLL per COVID-19 death increased by 35.7-percent; most of the other 15 other leading causes of death were stable across the time intervals, and YLL per death for these non-COVID-19 causes did not change more than 2.2-percent.
Importantly, two secondary findings were also noted: Alzheimer's and Parkinson's deaths and YLL decreased, potentially due to misattribution of COVID-19 illness and reduced medical access in the earlier stages of the pandemic; and the number of deaths and YLL due to unintentional injury increased considerably, which the study team did not directly explore in this analysis but attribute to the accelerating opioid epidemic and associated drug overdose deaths.
The research was limited by two primary factors: 2021 death records are not finalized until 12-months post-mortem; and individuals were not fully characterized for comorbidities, vaccination status, or any other determinants.
The study team is hopeful their insights will inform a greater story of mortality and loss during the COVID-19 pandemic, while inspiring further research into contributing factors to this trend.
Dr Czeisler told Thailand Medical News
, "A shift in COVID-19 mortality to relatively younger individuals in the second pandemic year contributed to markedly increased premature mortality from this increasingly preventable death. Understanding the factors that contribute to this age shift is critical as we continue developing our knowledge of the COVID-19 pandemic."
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