Panda Papers 

Examining Excess Deaths Reporting

Examining Excess Deaths Reporting

There is a persistent narrative that South Africa’s official COVID-19 death tally is significantly undercounted because reported excess deaths are higher than the official COVID-19 death toll. It is time to dispel  the  three most prominent myths around South Africa’s excess death reporting.

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Excess Deaths Oddities

Excess Deaths Oddities

The SAMRC report attempts to show that the coronavirus pandemic has led to almost 11,000 fatalities, more than three times the official death count. Our view is that this claim is false and that simple and logical adjustments to the data for known reporting issues cause the excess fatality number to align much more closely with recorded COVID-19 deaths.

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Examining Excess Deaths Reporting

Exploring Inter-Country Variation

One of the most interesting features of the COVID-19 outbreak is the stark difference between mortality experience in different countries. No simple and plausible explanations that we are aware of have been advanced.

While our results explain roughly half of the inter-country variability, they appear to be far more robust than the current explanations in circulation. We are hopeful that other researchers will identify factors that can improve our model.

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Excess Deaths Oddities

The Big Picture – why this PANDA got irritable

We realise that in recent weeks we have become the irritable and potentially dangerous version of the PANDA, and we’d like to give some background to how we arrived at this point. From late April we have been worried that the cost of lockdown, measured in terms of impact on human lives, would significantly outweigh any benefits.

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Excess Deaths Oddities

Quantifying Years of Lost Life

Currently, we employ a “years of lost life” approach to comparing benefits and harms. This avoids the false dichotomy of “lives versus the economy”. Viruses kill. But the economy sustains lives and poverty kills too.
Our latest estimate is that South Africa’s lockdown will cause a loss of life at least 30x greater than the loss of life it stands to prevent.

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