Looking at the death counts for 2020 published on the CDC's website, total deaths "involving COVID-19" were 375,581, but total deaths "involving COVID-19 and pneumonia" were only 175,653.

So if less than half of all COVID deaths were caused by pneumonia, what were the rest caused by?

1 Answer 1


On the same CDC website, there is a section titled:

COVID-19 Mortality Overview

A link on this page (last but one) leads to a detailed analysis of comorbidalities:

Most Frequently Listed Comorbidities with COVID-19 Deaths

and also adds that as of 2nd Feb 2021, deaths involving:

  • Influenza/Pneumonia (44%)
  • Hypertension (20%)
  • Diabetes (16%)
  • Dementias (15%)
  • Sepsis (9%)

i.e. the patients already had these illnesses before catching COVID-19, and later died.

  • 1
    Might be worth pointing out explicitly that just because a cause of death does not include "pneumonia" does not mean pneumonia was not present. If listed alongside COVID-19 it may be that the person listing cause of death considered it redundant to write both.
    – Bryan Krause
    Commented Feb 15, 2021 at 15:36

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