"How Many Deaths Has the COVID-19 Pandemic Really Caused in the U.S.? A Look at Current Evidence"

  • Starts3:30 pm on Wednesday, March 22, 2023
  • Ends5:30 pm on Wednesday, March 22, 2023


Andrew Stokes, Assistant Professor of Global Health (SPH) and Assistant Professor of Sociology (CAS), and

Yannis Paschalidis, Distinguished Professor of Engineering (ECE, SE, BME, CDS) and Director of the Rafik B. Hariri Institute of Computing and Computational Science & Engineering

A CDS Colloquium

4:00 PM | Location: 665 Commonwealth Ave (Room 1101) Boston

Refreshments and Conversation start at 3:30 PM

About the Talk: Excess mortality has emerged as an important metric for monitoring all-cause and cause-specific mortality during the Covid-19 pandemic. Prior studies of excess mortality have primarily focused on national and regional trends but revealing the mortality impact of the Covid-19 pandemic at finer spatial-temporal resolutions is vital to developing targeted policy responses. In the present talk, I discuss Bayesian small area estimation methods for calculating excess mortality for 3,128 counties in the United States over each month of the pandemic and highlight how spatial-temporal modeling of excess mortality can be used to quantify potential underreporting of Covid-19 deaths across local jurisdictions. I also discuss time-series modeling approaches, including dynamic harmonic regression models with autoregressive integrated moving average (ARIMA), and highlight how these methods can be used to enrich excess mortality modeling and shed light on the drivers of increases in pandemic mortality from causes other than Covid-19. Finally, I discuss how this modeling infrastructure may be used to create an early warning system for identifying anomalous mortality patterns associated with future pandemics and other public health emergencies.

Andrew Stokes PhD is a demographer and sociologist with expertise in population health and aging. Through his research and dissemination efforts, he strives to reveal the social and structural factors that influence health across the life course, inform public health policies that center health equity, and contribute to evidence-based reforms of public health and health care systems. His research portfolio includes research on (1) spatial-temporal trends in excess mortality during the Covid-19 pandemic, (2) the determinants of long-term mortality and life expectancy trends, (3) chronic disease, pain, and disability across the life course, (4) substance use, tobacco, and e-cigarettes, and (5) access to care for chronic diseases in low- and middle-income countries. Founded in response to the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, he created and leads a project focused on quantifying uncounted Covid-19 deaths in local communities across the United States. Through peer-reviewed research, media collaborations, and public data dashboards, the project seeks to reveal the hidden death toll of the pandemic and inform public health policies that center equity. Dr. Stokes received his B.A. in Environmental Studies from Bates College, M.A. in Demography from the University of Pennsylvania, and PhD in Demography and Sociology from the University of Pennsylvania. Prior to his doctoral studies, he was a post-bachelor fellow at the Harvard Initiative for Global Health in Cambridge, MA.

Yannis Paschalidis is a Distinguished Professor in the College of Engineering at Boston University with joint appointments in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, the Division of Systems Engineering, and the Department of Biomedical Engineering. He is also a Founding Professor of Computing & Data Sciences. He is the Director of the Rafik B. Hariri Institute for Computing and Computational Science & Engineering – a Boston University federation of several centers and initiatives which acts as a catalyst and convergence accelerator for interdisciplinary research in this broad space.

If you have questions about this talk, please email Chris DeVits at cdevits@bu.edu and/or Katherine D'Angelo at ktd@bu.edu

665 Commonwealth Avenue (Room 1101), Boston

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