Tags: Coronavirus | coronavirus | deathtoll | underreporting

Most Countries Underreporting COVID-19 Deaths

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By    |   Thursday, 28 May 2020 06:29 PM

Many countries are not reporting all of the fatalities linked to COVID-19, The Wall Street Journal reports.

According to the newspaper, global death statistics indicate that very few countries are accurately portraying how many coronavirus deaths they have had.

Data from the U.S., Russia, U.K. and the Netherlands all show the number of deaths from all causes tallied has increased from March. But not all of those deaths are being attributed to coronavirus.

The exception is Belgium, which according to reports has the world’s highest per-capita COVID-19 death rate. In addition to listing COVID-19 deaths confirmed by tests, Belgium also counts any deaths suspected to be related to the virus.

“If we had only taken confirmed deaths, we would not have had such accurate data,” Françoise Renard, a scientist with Belgium’s national health institute, Sciensano, told the newspaper.

Some places like New York, France and the U.K. have begun modeling their death counts after Belgium.

A Johns Hopkins University associate engineering professor Lauren Gardner, who is in charge of the team that built a COVID-19 tracker, told The Wall Street Journal that the U.S., China and other countries have undercounted deaths and coronavirus cases.

The World Health Organization and centers for disease control in both the U.S. and Europe have recommended that any death in which coronavirus was thought to be a contributing factor — based on a test or on a doctor's decision—should be listed as a COVID-19 death.

Massachusetts is looking back at death certificates from the beginning of the year to see if there are cases that should be relisted as COVID-19 deaths, even if patients weren’t tested.

Medical experts say they there is minimal risk in doctors diagnosing coronavirus-related deaths without confirmation from a test.

“We’re almost sure there’s undercounting, not overcounting” in the U.S., said Robert Anderson, chief of the mortality statistics branch at the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics.

Specialists told The Wall Street Journal that the measure of accuracy is the gap between the total recorded deaths from all causes and those linked to the virus. They said the gap should be close to a country’s expected number of deaths for any given week. If a gap widens, it is likely the difference is due to coronavirus.

Dr. Anderson pointed to the week of April 11, when the U.S. recorded roughly 21,000 deaths more than expected and registered 18,000 COVID-19-related deaths. The other 3,000, he said are likely linked to the coronavirus in some way. 

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Many countries are not reporting all of the fatalities linked to COVID-19, The Wall Street Journal reports.According to the newspaper, global death statistics indicate that very few countries are accurately portraying how many coronavirus deaths they have had....
coronavirus, deathtoll, underreporting
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2020-29-28
Thursday, 28 May 2020 06:29 PM
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