April 23, 2022 – COVID-19 was the third leading cause of death in the United States in 2021 for the second year in a row, with only heart disease and cancer causing more deaths, the CDC said Friday.
About 693,000 people died of heart disease in 2021, of which 605,000 died of cancer and 415,000 of COVID, the CDC said, citing preliminary data which may be updated later.
Accidental injuries were the fourth leading cause of death, rising to 219,000 in 2021 from 201,000 in 2020. Influenza and pneumonia fell out of the top 10 causes of death, and suicide moved into 10th place.
In total, about 3,458,697 deaths were reported in the United States last year. The age-adjusted death rate was 841.6 deaths per 100,000 people, an increase of 0.7% from 2020. The death rate in 2021 was the highest since 2003, the CDC said.
The total number of COVID deaths in 2021 increased by about 20% compared to 2020, when about 384,000 people died from the virus, the CDC said. COVID deaths in 2021 peaked in the weeks ending January 16 and September 11, after holiday periods.
The demographics of COVID mortality changed slightly, the CDC said in another report.
Blacks accounted for 13.3% of COVID deaths in 2021 and Hispanics 16.5%, a drop of several percentage points from 2020. CDC said. Asians accounted for 3.1% of COVID deaths in 2021, down from 3.6% in 2020. White people accounted for 65.2% of COVID deaths in 2021, up from 59.6% in 2020.
Non-Hispanic Native American / Alaskan natives and non-Hispanic blacks or African Americans had the highest overall death rates for COVID, the CDC said.
Divided data by age, the number of COVID deaths among people aged 75 and older fell to 178,000 in 2021 from around 207,000 in 2020. The numbers increased in other age groups. Among people 65-75, about 101,000 died of COVID in 2021, up from about 76,000 in 2020.
“The results of both studies highlight the need for greater efforts to implement effective interventions,” the CDC said in a declaration. “We must work to ensure equal treatment in all communities in relation to their need for effective interventions that can prevent excess COVID-19 deaths.”
Since the pandemic began, about 991,000 people in the United States have died of COVID-related causes, most among all nations of the world.