Data tells the truths of those who create it. COVID-19 is no different.

Why is it that Russia has reported the second-largest number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 globally and yet it’s ranked 140th out of 163 countries based on death rate from COVID-19, breaking the general rule of ‘more cases - more deaths’? We had a few theories: Russia is extremely successful in treating COVID-19, Russians are highly resistant to the virus, or the death toll is simply undercounted. 

We dug in and found that death classification practices vary significantly across countries despite the availability of guidelines for classifying coronavirus deaths published by the World Health Organisation. Here are few examples:

  • Belgium records COVID-19 deaths even if the virus was only suspected, not confirmed, in the deceased.
  • Other countries, including Italy and the United States, require a positive COVID-19 test result to classify a death as caused by COVID-19. 
  • And, Russia? Russia employs a more conservative approach and does not count the death as caused by COVID-19 unless there are clinical manifestations and pathological changes as a result of the virus.

Okay, so COVID-19 death counts are out in helping us understand the reality behind any country's total deaths from COVID-19. What data would be more helpful? Excess mortality rates is our answer, i.e. compare this year's overall death rate with the long term 5 or 10 year average. Unfortunately, most countries do not publish mortality figures daily, weekly, or even monthly, only annually, meaning we have to wait to answer this fully. We do have an inkling, however, as to what we’ll discover based on the weekly mortality data available for Europe, which reveals that the overall death rates are higher than reported COVID-19 deaths, suggesting European countries are not yet fully capturing COVID-19 related deaths in their daily figures. 


Coronavirus Data and Insights

Live data and insights on Coronavirus around the world, including detailed statistics for the US, EU, and China — confirmed and recovered cases, deaths, alternative data on economic activities, customer behavior, supply chains, and more.

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