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FT says Covid-19 deaths could be 60% higher than reported

The Financial Times has reported that an assessment of mortality statistics shows that deaths from the coronavirus could be 60% higher then is currently being reported. 

The FT says that it analysed mortality statistics across 14 countries to compare the number of deaths in excess of normal levels with the number of covid-19 deaths reported.

It found that “mortality statistics show 122,000 deaths in excess of normal levels across these locations, considerably higher than the 77,000 official Covid-19 deaths reported for the same places and time periods.”

That would mean that “the death toll from coronavirus may be almost 60 per cent higher than reported in official counts” the paper says.

The analysis posits that if the same level of under-reporting seen in the 14 countries under observation was happening across the world, the worldwide Covid-19 death toll would rise to 318,000 from the current official total of 201,000.

The analysis is explained as follows:

To calculate excess deaths, the FT has compared deaths from all causes in the weeks of a location’s outbreak in March and April 2020 to the average for the same period between 2015 and 2019. The total of 122,000 amounts to a 50 per cent rise in overall mortality relative to the historical average for the locations studied.

In all the countries analysed except Denmark, excess deaths far outnumbered the official coronavirus death tolls. The accuracy of official death statistics from the virus is limited by how effectively a country is testing people to confirm cases. Some countries, including China, have retrospectively revised up their death tolls from the disease.

According to the FT analysis, overall deaths rose 60 per cent in Belgium, 51 per cent in Spain, 42 per cent in the Netherlands and 34 per cent in France during the pandemic compared with the same period in previous years.

Some of these deaths may be the result of causes other than Covid-19, as people avoid hospitals for other ailments. But excess mortality has risen most steeply in places suffering the worst Covid-19 outbreaks, suggesting most of these deaths are directly related to the virus rather than simply side-effects of lockdowns.

In the UK early death totals were far too low because only hospital deaths were counted.

The paper also reported that in Lombardy in northern Italy more than 13,000 excess deaths  have been recorded – “an uptick of 155 per cent on the historical average and far higher than the 4,348 reported Covid deaths in the region “.

“In the Indonesian capital Jakarta, data on burials shows an increase of 1,400 relative to the historical average during the same period — 15 times the official figure of 90 Covid deaths for the same period,” the FT also points out.

They also suggest that the real figure of Covid-19 might be even higher: “as lockdowns mean that “mortality from numerous conditions such as traffic accidents and occupational injuries possibly went down” according to Markéta Pechholdová, assistant professor of demography at the University of Economics, Prague.’


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