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COVID-19 Deaths: A Look at U.S. Data FEB 2021 Working Paper

February 1, 2021
By Genevieve Briand, Ph.D.

This paper is an analysis of 2020 death rates that shows COVID-19 did not cause excess deaths.

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Not since the Spanish flu of 1918 has the United States, along with the rest of the world, faced a public health challenge quite like COVID-19.  This holds true both for the severity of the epidemic itself, as well as for the consequences of the measures taken by public officials to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

Genevieve Briand, Ph.D., a program director and lecturer at Johns Hopkins University, analyzes total death numbers in the U.S. using the most recent CDC data for the 2020 calendar year and finds that an increase in population explains "excess deaths."  There has been wide speculation that COVID-19 caused nearly 300,000 excess deaths in 2020 but Briand says the mortality rate tells a different story. 

Briand's work has touched a nerve. A JHU newspaper publication took down an article describing a presentation she made on the topic. 

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