Financial Times: Global coronavirus deaths may be 60 percent higher than announced
The Financial Times (FT), published in the UK, analyzed death data in 14 countries and reflected the results of this sample to the world, concluding that the true size of deaths could be much higher than described.
It was announced that a total of 77 thousand people died from Covid-19 during the epidemic in 14 countries that the newspaper examined. However, FT determined 122 thousand more deaths in these countries during the epidemic period compared to the same period of previous years. This suggests that coronavirus deaths may be around 60 percent higher than described.
When FT reflects the same rate to the coronavirus deaths announced worldwide, he concludes that those who died in the outbreak may have been 318 thousand, not the official figure of 201 thousand.
What method was used?
To calculate over-deaths, the Financial Times recorded all deaths that occurred after the outbreak in March and April of each year in each of the 14 selected countries and compared these numbers with the average of deaths in the same months in 2015 and 2019.
The resulting 122 thousand figure is about 50 percent above the average number of deaths in these countries during the same period.
In all the countries studied, except Denmark, the number of deaths above the historical average was well above the number of coronavirus deaths announced.
Therefore, it has been noted that the reliability of the official death numbers related to the virus varies depending on how effectively the coronavirus tests are performed in that country.
Some countries, including China, made retrospective adjustments to the figures they announced and reported that the deaths were higher than they first announced.
According to the analysis of the Financial Times, the deaths in March and April this year were 60 percent higher in Belgium, 51 percent in Spain, 42 percent in the Netherlands and 34 percent in France, compared to the average of the previous five years.
Of course, this does not mean that all deaths above average are from Covid-19. The fact that people with other ailments avoid going to hospitals because of the epidemic may also have increased deaths.
But the numbers reveal that above-average deaths have increased most in places where the Covid-19 outbreak spread fastest. This increases the likelihood that most of these over-deaths are due to Covid-19.
Professor David Spiegelhalter of the University of Cambridge reminds us that the numbers announced were much lower than the actual deaths, as the example of the United Kingdom counts because only deaths in hospitals are counted.
“The only way to make an objective comparison between countries is to look at the number of deaths caused by any reason. Increases in deaths make us think that it is very suspicious and inevitably related to the epidemic, even if Covid is not written in the death report.”
Deaths above the average of the last five years are also seen in urban areas where the virus is most common, and it seems that the fatalities and causes of deaths are not recorded properly.
This situation is very worrying especially for developing economies according to FT. Only 245 Covid-related deaths were reported between March 1 and April 15 in the Guayas region of Ecuador. But during this period, it is seen that 10 thousand 200 more people have lost their lives than the average of the past five years. This corresponds to an increase of 350 percent.
In the Lombardy region in the north of Italy, one of the centers of the epidemic in Europe, there were 13 thousand more deaths than its past average during this period. This is 150 percent above the announced 4 thousand 348 Covid deaths.
Looking across the world, Bergamo, Italy, with 464 percent of deaths in March and April this year compared to the past five years. It is followed by New York City with an increase of 200 percent and Madrid, the capital of Spain with an increase of 161 percent.
Recorded deaths in Indonesia’s capital Jakarta are over 1400 for the same period. This is 15 times the number 90 that the government declared as Covid’s death for the same period.
As a result, it is seen that the epidemic difficulties are not only experienced in developing countries. In the week ended April 10, the number of deaths recorded in England and Wales – for any reason – was the highest number of deaths of this century, 76 percent of the average deaths of the past five years and 58 percent of the announced Covid deaths.
‘No systematic testing in nursing homes’
Experts point out that many of the Covid-19 cases seen among the elderly, who live in care homes and are the most vulnerable group to the disease, are also a major problem.
Adelina Comas-Herrera, a research fellow at the Centre for care policies and assessments at the prestigious London School of Economics and politics, says that in very few countries, coronavirus testing is done systematically for nursing home residents and employees.
The Financial Times writes that because of curfews, many countries have had fewer accidents and traffic accidents than in previous years, the actual number of coronavirus deaths may be far higher than what they found by comparing the number of outbreaks with the number of previous years.