COVID-19 joined these two diseases as top cause of US deaths in 2020

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has published its provisional mortality data on the leading causes of death in the US last year. Having claimed around 375,000 lives, the CDC says that COVID-19 was the third-highest cause of death in the United States in 2020, coming in third only to heart disease and cancer.

The CDC notes that at this time, its annual mortality statistics may still be incomplete and that the final report won't arrive until the end of the year. The reason, the agency explains, is because the CDC's National Vital Statistics System uses data from death certificates.

It takes time to 'investigate certain causes of death and to process and review data,' the CDC says. For this reason, the current report may have underestimated the number of deaths that happened last year and their causes. Despite that, the currently available data shows COVID-19 as the third-highest cause of death in the US last year at around 11.3-percent of the 3,358,814 total approximate deaths.

The death rate, after adjusting for age, increased by 15.9-percent last year, the report reveals. The greatest death rates were observed in non-Hispanic American Indian and Alaska Native populations, as well as non-Hispanic Black groups. When looking specifically at COVID-19, Hispanics had the highest death rate.

In addition, the COVID-19 deaths particularly impacted males and adults 85 years and older. The statistics include deaths in which COVID-19 was listed as the cause or contributing cause of death. You can read the full report, including all of the data that went into it, on the CDC's website here.