Shomporko Desk:-TORONTO – “Excess death” statistics have been used in some parts of the world to suggest the proper toll of COVID-19 is a lot higher than what has authoritatively been recorded, and the latest records indicate that the equal trend could be playing out on a smaller scale in Western Canada.
Put simply, extra deaths are the wide variety of deaths recorded in a region during a period well beyond what might be viewed as typical for that spot and time.
New York City recorded 24,000 excess deaths between March 11 and May 2. The city’s legitimate COVID-19 loss of life during that period was under 19,000, leaving in excess of 5,000 deaths unexplained. The American government has speculated that huge numbers of those deaths could likewise be identified with the novel coronavirus, may be happening in individuals who were never tested for it.
Statistics Canada made its first attempt to determine the number of excess deaths in the country during the pandemic in mid-May. The initial report was based on limited data, only covered the time period up to March 31 – when fewer than 100 deaths had been linked to COVID-19 by the Public Health Agency of Canada – and excluded two provinces and two territories altogether.
StatCan was unable to find any evidence of substantial excess deaths at that time, although the agency noted that its conclusions were subject to change given that it was working with such a small pool of information.
New data was released Friday, covering much more of the pandemic – up to May 2. In this report, StatCan found evidence of excess deaths in Quebec, Alberta and British Columbia – three of the four provinces that have reported the most deaths due to COVID-19. The fourth, Ontario, was not included in the report due to insufficient data.
In Quebec, COVID-19 explains all of the excess deaths and many more. StatCan found that between March 28 and May 2, there were 1,472 more deaths in the province than in the same time period in any of the previous five years. However, the province reported 2,132 deaths related to COVID-19 during the same period.
That leaves Alberta and B.C. as the two provinces where an abnormal and a significant number of deaths cannot be explained, leaving open the possibility that they represent undetected COVID-19 deaths.
In B.C., StatCan found that the number of deaths between March 15 and April 25 was 372 higher than it had been during any of the previous five years, although only 99 deaths were attributed to COVID-19 during this time.
Excess death numbers in Alberta, B.C. and Quebec suggested that both men and women were dying at higher rates than expected in those provinces, StatCan said, while those over the age of 85 appeared to be disproportionately represented in the data.
The agency said it will continue to report on excess deaths as new data becomes available and expects future reports to include more information about officially listed causes of deaths.
Photo credit: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
News source: CTVNews