CDC: COVID-19 was third leading cause of death in US in 2021

Apr 22, 2022, 8:10 PM | Updated: Jun 8, 2022, 3:16 pm
COVID-19 was the third leading cause of death in the United States in 2021, CDC reports. Flags are ...
COVID-19 was the third leading cause of death in the United States in 2021, CDC reports. Flags are placed in the ground to commemorate the Americans who have died due to COVID-19 near the Washington Monument on September 18, 2021 in Washington, D.C. Spencer Platt/Getty Images via CNN)

(CNN) — COVID-19 was the third leading cause of death in the United States in 2021, following heart disease and cancer, for the second year in a row, according to provisional data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The overall age-adjusted death rate for all causes in the US was about 1% higher in 2021 that in was in 2020, but the death rate from COVID-19 increased by nearly 20%. The data was published Friday in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

More than one in eight deaths in 2021 had COVID-19 as an underlying cause, up from about one in 10 deaths in 2020.

More than 415,000 people died from COVID-19 in 2021, while about 605,000 people died from cancer and about 693,000 people died from heart disease, according to the CDC data. Influenza dropped out of the top 10 causes of death in 2021, while suicide rose to the tenth leading cause of death overall.

Demographic patterns in 2021 were similar to 2020, with overall death rates highest for Black people and American Indians and Alaskan Natives.

However, disparities in COVID-19 death rates decreased significantly for most racial and ethnic groups compared to the first year of the pandemic relative to death rates for multiracial people.

About 13% of COVID-19 deaths were among Black people in 2021, down from about 16% in 2020. Similarly, 16.5% of COVID-19 deaths were among Hispanic people in 2021, down from about 19% in 2020. White people, however, increased from about 60% of Covid-19 deaths in 2020 to more than 65% in 2021, according to the CDC data.

Also, COVID-19 death rates remained highest among those ages 85 and older in 2021, but were lower than they were in 2020. For all other age groups, Covid-19 death rates were higher in 2021 than they were in 2020.

“The results of both studies highlight the need for greater effort to implement effective interventions,” the CDC said in a statement. “We must work to ensure equal treatment in all communities in proportion to their need for effective interventions that can prevent excess COVID-19 deaths.”

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CDC: COVID-19 was third leading cause of death in US in 2021