Analysis: How many people have died from Covid-19? We may never know

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The simple truth is that far, far too many people have died from Covid-19.
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(CNN)

In the US, where vaccines have been widely available for months, it's a shocking number of people -- but while the official total will soon reach 650,000, the sad fact is we don't know the exact number and probably won't for some time.

A number of recent revelations illustrate the difficulty in keeping track.

On Thursday, for instance, Florida reported 1,338 new deaths to CDC that had not been included in previous totals. The newly reported deaths are not reflected in recent trends, but instead spread around to earlier dates based on the date the death occurred. Death records can take weeks or months to be reported to the CDC. Florida publishes its own Covid data review, but only on Fridays. A new lawsuit seeks to force the state to return to daily reports.

National totals are also difficult to track. The CDC's recorded total of deaths, more than 631,000, the agency acknowledges, is less than the likely total number of Covid deaths. CNN uses data from Johns Hopkins that puts the recorded US Covid-19 death total at more than 643,000.

In a report on data from February of 2020 thru May of 2021, when the total number of documented Covid deaths was approaching 600,000, the CDC used statistical models to project a more accurate estimate of the Covid-19 burden, and it suggested the total was 767,000. It would be many more today.

While the number of reported deaths is closer to reality than either the documented number of Covid-19 infections or Covid-19 hospitalizations, according to the CDC, the officially reported death totals do not capture the entire universe of…
Analysis by Zachary B. Wolf, CNN
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