COVID-19: How many deaths are outside hospitals and official records?


Official Covid-19 deaths are likely to underestimate the true number of victims of the pandemic, according to the latest issue of the Economist, because they usually only include those who died of the disease in a hospital, but not those who died of the same disease outside. hospital, usually without having even been tested before.

Often the real cause of an outpatient death, that is, a Covid-19 incident, takes a long time to be determined by the relevant services, resulting in a small or large time lag in the statistical data.

The case of China, which suddenly revived Friday’s 50 percent death toll in Wuhan, the epicenter of the pandemic, from 2,579 to 3,869, is another case in point, adding another 1,290 victims. The new high-profile report includes, according to Chinese authorities, patients who had not been admitted to hospitals but died at home, incidents that had not been recorded, errors, etc.

One way to better estimate the number of deaths, according to the British magazine, is to take into account “excessive mortality”, ie the difference between the total number of people who died of any cause at a time in a country, in relation to the historical average of deaths for the same country and the same period in the past. However, such statistics are slow to appear, with the time lag exceeding even one year in some countries.

However, some national statistics services have already released data on total mortality by the end of March this year. In Italy and the Netherlands, there has been a more than double death toll from in-hospital deaths recorded by official Covid-19 deaths over the same period. This means that e.g. in Italy, where recorded deaths from the disease have exceeded 22,700, the actual number may be at least double.

The mayor of Bergamo, the area most affected by the coronation, has already said that the official figures are simply “the tip of the iceberg, as many victims are not included in the official reports because they are dying at home”.

In Italy, the official death toll from Covid-19 includes only those who had previously been diagnosed with coronary heart disease. According to Economist estimates, the comparison of these official figures for Bergamo to the end of March (about 4,000 dead) with the country’s death toll for the same period in Bergamo (at least 9,000 more deaths than in the past) , concludes that the actual number of deaths from the disease is about 120% higher.

The corresponding estimate for Spain, which has officially surpassed 20,000 dead, is estimated to be about 60% higher than the actual number of victims, ie the underestimation is lower (half) than in Italy. As of March 31, the death toll was about 8,000 in the country, while deaths from any cause were 13,000 more than in the past.

Approximately 60% are estimated to be undervalued in France, where on April 3 the official death toll from Covid-19 was around 5,000 (now it is almost 18,700), while on the same date in early April the “additional” deaths from each The cause was almost 8,000 more than in the previous period.

In the Netherlands, the death toll from Covid-19 could be even higher than in Italy, reaching 140%, as on April 5 the official death toll from the disease was about 1,700 (today it reaches 3,500), while the excessive deaths from any cause was 4,000.

As of April 3, nearly 6,000 people had died of Covid-19 in England, according to the country’s health service, while the country’s health ministry had recorded a 15% drop in the same period. In Wales and Scotland, the number of deaths recorded by hospitals over the same period was 52% lower than the number recorded by the statistical office.

But a crucial question is whether all the recent deaths compared to the past should actually be attributed to Covid-19. It is possible that a non-negligible part of these deaths was of another etiology (different from coronary heart disease) and occurred because the hospitals had been temporarily flooded with the pandemic, so it was not possible for patients to receive the necessary treatment and thus died.


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