Scenes from the 'terrible days' in January 2021. Image: MIGUEL A. LOPES/LUSA

Portugal’s 40,400 ‘collateral mortality’

Excess deaths “more than double those with Covid”

Given that Portugal’s Covid death-toll is already ‘over-inflated’, reports in the media this weekend refer to a study published in the Lancet on Friday that suggests ‘excess mortality in Portugal’ was 2.13 times higher than the official number of ‘deaths from Covid’.

In total, 40,400 ‘more deaths’ than usually occur in the same time frame were logged from the beginning of the pandemic in Portugal (March 2020) and December 31 last year.

This collateral mortality (as newspapers dub it) will have been due to “other causes”, says Correio da Manhã, adding that the official death toll for those months was over 19,000.

CNN hazards the guess that worldwide “some of this excess mortality may have been missed in official counts due to lack of diagnostic or reporting resources”.

But this hypothesis would be unlikely to fit with Portugal where we have already been told that deaths from Covid were ‘overcounted’ as were cases that ended up in hospital. 

Much more likely is the fact that these deaths were caused by “indirect effects of the pandemic, such as lack of access to health care, behaviour changes during lockdowns or economic turmoil”, CNN continues.

“There was not enough data to distinguish the case of death”, however.

Bottom line: the authors of the study (funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and philanthropists John Stanton, his wife Theresa Gillespie, and J and E Nordstrom) “stress that more investigations will be needed to be able to distinguish the proportion of excess death caused directly by infection provoked by SARS-CoV-2, and causes of death as an indirect consequence of the pandemic”, reports RTP news.

Lead researcher Haidong Wang, of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, explains that it is “vital” to understand the “real number of deaths from the pandemic” so that effective decisions can be made in the field of public health (in future).

Bill Gates has made no secret of the fact he believes another pandemic ‘with another pathogen’ is likely to come much faster than the usual global time frame of 100 years.

And while Portugal’s excess mortality may be shocking, the global figure is even higher. The study suggests the ‘pandemic death toll’ collateral, or genuine, could be three times higher than official figures.

Meantime, in Portugal the much-looked-forward-to date of April 3 for the moment all Covid restrictions will fall looks like being ‘put back’ to at least the end of April, due to a spike in cases (not deaths) which authorities refuse to take lightly.

In UK exactly the same situation is happening, but restrictions have all been lifted.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com