The number of deaths from COVID-19 has more than doubled in a year

Since last October, the number of deaths from COVID-19 has nearly doubled, according to Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) figures, and January 2022 saw the death rate surpass the highest level in the country after Omicron became the dominant bacterial strain.

According to Statistics Canada, the excess mortality rate decreased in the following months. However, an infectious disease expert warned the true extent of the excess mortality could be masked by uneven and incomplete reporting of deaths across provinces, leading to Early conclusions on actual nationwide COVID-19 mortality trends in Canada.

A recent report from Statistics Canada shows a drop in excess mortality after peaking in January 2022. But with delays in reporting deaths, especially during the Omicron period, these provisional numbers are likely to increase as different provinces adjust for deaths for July and August, according to analysis by a grassroots organization.

Tara Moriarty, infectious disease expert at the University of Toronto and co-founder of COVID-19 Resources, “It is important to understand that some provinces are still underreporting all of their numbers or underreporting them. after January. Canada, a grassroots initiative, told on Thursday.

Excess mortality is reported when the actual number of deaths is significantly higher than estimated for a given time period and helps us understand the direct and indirect impact of the pandemic by comparing compare the number of deaths with previous months. These numbers peaked after the arrival of Omicron last November, when it became the dominant bacterial strain in the region.

When comparing estimates across different provinces, data from StatCan show an uneven distribution in excess mortality estimates. But because some provinces report a fraction of total deaths, the total number of excess deaths in Canada during the Omicron period could be much higher.

The analysis is based on the methodology used by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to estimate excess deaths when deaths are underreported.

Canada’s young people under 45 years of age had 19.4% more deaths than expected between January and March 2022, and 10.3% more deaths than expected, StatCan said. expected from April to June. But excess mortality actually fell for those over 45 in the first quarter of 2022.

Moriarty said that some provinces prioritize reporting deaths in older age groups over younger age groups, and update the figures for younger demographic weeks later. So it is more likely that there could be a period of excess mortality followed by a period of death shortage. Moriarty said this phenomenon, known as mortality displacement, has occurred in every wave of COVID-19.

Moriarty said that there is a “strong probability” that excess mortality in July and August could increase “significantly” for provinces like Quebec. “This may be related to the crisis of access to healthcare and the weakening of the COVID-19 vaccine. But this is speculation.”

Quebec has been the gold standard for complete, prompt and timely reporting of serious COVID outcomes. However, the province has yet to make any reports on younger age groups in the current period so the mortality rate beyond the Omicron period is mostly in people over 65 years old.

Moriarty said the trend in Quebec is an early indication that excess mortality will increase significantly when the young demographic numbers are updated for the Omicron period, and what this means. This number will also increase for the rest of Canada .

Excess mortality reporting is also slower than COVID-19 updates. And COVID-19 numbers are still being updated from the first batch of 2020 for some provinces.

Each province is a little different when it comes to reporting COVID-19 figures, and many have stopped reporting these numbers on a regular basis.

For example, the two westernmost provinces, Alberta and British Columbia, report higher mortality rates among young age groups than Quebec. But there may be other factors such as substance use that contribute to the death toll. Beginning in early April, British Columbia reported all deaths within 30 days of testing positive for COVID-19, regardless of cause of death leading to an overestimation of the number of deaths. died in BC.

According to StatCan, additional factors such as increased use and delayed medical procedures/diagnosis may be an indirect impact of COVID-19 itself, including for those under 45 years of age.

Nunavut and the Northwest Territories stopped publishing COVID-19 updates on April 11 and June 13 of this year, respectively. While some provinces have reduced the number of times this data is published. For example, from June 30 this year, Saskatchewan began publishing COVID-19 updates monthly, rather than weekly. Some provinces such as Prince Edward Island, Manitoba, or New Brunswick have not been reported since 2021, so the provisional death toll may be far from the real number.


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