COVID-19 is likely killing more than just people who contract the virus.
As of Tuesday, nearly 170,000 people had died of the novel coronavirus, at least according to official death counts. But using excess mortality data from around the globe, The New York Times has recorded an estimated 25,000 additional people who have likely died due to the pandemic, whether they actually contracted COVID-19 or it impacted their health in other ways.
To come up with this estimate, the Times looked at recent mortality data of 11 countries. More people had recently died in these countries than in previous years, but official COVID-19 death tolls only made up a small chunk of the increase. Spain saw 7,300 more deaths than usual between March 9 and April 5, while New York City has its typical death rate nearly quadruple in a similar time, mortality numbers show. These excess deaths added up to 25,000 among those 11 countries.
"These numbers undermine the notion that many people who have died from the virus may soon have died anyway," the Times writes. Some deaths likely occurred because people refused to go to or could not get to hospitals to be treated for non-coronavirus-related health issues.
"Mortality data in the middle of a pandemic is not perfect," the Times is sure to note, and limited testing likely accounts for these undercounts more than deliberate miscalculations. Read more at The New York Times.