Actual Covid deaths in PHL may have hit 184K–study

The research, titled “Estimating excess mortality due to the Covid-19 pandemic: A systematic analysis of Covid-19-related mortality, 2020–21,” reported Covid-19 deaths in the country had reached 53,000, but researchers estimated that this could have reached as much as 184,000.
This May 31, 2020, file photo shows Gabriel Berendo, a businessman and car enthusiast, driving a casket converted into a car in Cebu City, as he goes around reminding residents to stay at home to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

NEARLY 200,000 Filipinos may have died due to Covid-19, according to a study published by Lancet and funded by United States-based organizations such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The research, titled “Estimating excess mortality due to the Covid-19 pandemic: A systematic analysis of Covid-19-related mortality, 2020–21,” reported Covid-19 deaths in the country had reached 53,000, but researchers estimated that this could have reached as much as 184,000.

The data showed that Indonesia, Myanmar and the Philippines were the countries with the highest estimated excess deaths within Southeast Asia. Indonesia is considered one of the top countries in the world with the highest excess deaths due to Covid-19.

“Excess mortality due to the Covid-19 pandemic, defined as the net difference between the number of deaths during the pandemic (measured by observed or estimated all-cause mortality) and the number of deaths that would be expected on the basis of past trends in all-cause mortality, is therefore a crucial measure of the true toll of the Covid-19 pandemic,” the research stated.

Based on the estimates, the number of excess deaths in the country may have reached anywhere from 175,000 to 197,000 or an average of 184,000.

This meant that for every 100,000 deaths, a total of 78.8 to 88.7 were due to Covid-19. This translates to an average mortality rate per 100,000 of 82.9.

The data showed that given that reported deaths of 53,000 or a 23.8 mortality rate per 100,000 report may have been understated.

The researchers estimate Covid-19 deaths may have been 3.31 to 3.72 or an average of 3.48 is the ratio between excess mortality rate and reported Covid-19 mortality rate.

“Gaps exist between reported and excess deaths related to the Covid-19 pandemic for a number of reasons,” the researchers stated.

These reasons include the fact that healthcare reporting systems generally do not list Covid-19 as the cause of death without a positive SARS-CoV-2 test. This meant that deaths due to Covid-19 will be missed in official counts in locations with low testing capacity.

Another reason for this is that country systems for registering deaths vary in their quality and comprehensiveness, as well as in the definitions used for counting Covid-19 deaths.

The researchers also said globally, there is no universal agreement as to when a death of someone infected with SARS-CoV-2 should be reported as a death due to Covid-19.

The researchers also said political considerations may have prevented accurate reporting of deaths in some locations, while the magnitude and distribution of many other causes of death might have changed because of social, economic, and behavioral responses to the pandemic, including strict lockdowns.

“Under these conditions, excess mortality can provide a more accurate assessment of the total mortality impact of the Covid-19 pandemic than reported Covid-19 deaths,” the researchers said.

The researchers said that although reported Covid-19 deaths between January 1, 2020 and December 31, 2021, reached 5.94 million worldwide, they estimated that 18.2 million people died worldwide because of the Covid-19 pandemic, as measured by excess mortality, over that period.

The estimates showed that the number of excess deaths due to Covid-19 was largest in the regions of South Asia, North Africa and the Middle East, and Eastern Europe.

At the country level, the highest numbers of cumulative excess deaths due to Covid-19 were estimated in India at 4.07 million; the USA, 1.13 million; Russia, 1.07 million; Mexico, 798,000; Brazil, 792,000; Indonesia, 736,000; and Pakistan, 664,000.

“The full impact of the pandemic has been much greater than what is indicated by reported deaths due to Covid-19 alone. Strengthening death registration systems around the world, long understood to be crucial to global public health strategy, is necessary for improved monitoring of this pandemic and future pandemics,” the researchers said.

“In addition, further research is warranted to help distinguish the proportion of excess mortality that was directly caused by SARS-CoV-2 infection and the changes in causes of death as an indirect consequence of the pandemic,” they added.

The study aimed to estimate excess mortality from the Covid-19 pandemic in 191 countries and territories, and 252 subnational units for selected countries between January 1, 2020, and December 31, 2021.

Image credits: AP


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