WASHINGTON — For the second year in a row, COVID-19 was the third leading cause of death in the United States after heart disease and cancer, according to a report released Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The provisional data from 2021 showed heart disease claimed about 693,000 lives, all forms of cancer claimed just over 605,000 lives and COVID-19 was the underlying cause of death for around 415,000 American deaths last year.
According to the report, COVID-19 was listed as a contributing cause of death for around another 45,000 deaths from January-December 2021.
This comes on the heels of 2021 being named the deadliest year in U.S. history, with data showing COVID-19 was the main reason for the increase in deaths.
In total, there were 3.465 million deaths last year, or about 80,000 more than 2020's record-setting total.
Early last year, some experts were optimistic that 2021 would not be as bad as the first year of the pandemic — partly because effective COVID-19 vaccines had finally become available.
But research and data showed that wasn't the case.
COVID-19 was associated with around 460,000 deaths in the U.S. in 2021, up from more than 375,000 the year before. Experts have blamed the increase on the emergence of new coronavirus variants and an unexpectedly large numbers of Americans who refused to get vaccinated or were hesitant to wear masks.
The CDC report also found that while COVID-19 death rates decreased for persons older than 85, age groups under 75 years saw large increases from 2020 to 2021.