#At least 1.8 million people have died from covid-19. #It is the balance that leaves a year of pandemic, exactly 12 months after the #Chinese authorities first alerted of an unidentified pneumonia. #Belgium (about 19,360 deaths), #Slovenia (2,630), #Bosnia (4,020), #Italy (73,000), #Peru (37,500) and #Spain (50,400) are the countries with more than two million people that have reported the most deaths per inhabitant in these nine months. #Of the 15 states with the most deaths in relative terms, nine are in #Europe.
The death data are not perfect and are difficult to compare between countries – like almost all the figures of this pandemic – but they do allow us to see the impact of the virus in each place. #Now, #Europe is fighting the blows of a second wave of less intensity than the first, but much longer. There have already been more deaths from coronavirus from #August onwards than before: 325,000 since the summer and close to 530,000 throughout the year. The #United #States, where almost 340,000 people have died from covid-19 since #March, is already in the middle of the third wave. #Hospitals there have become even more saturated than in previous waves and the peak of daily deaths has been above the spring and autumn records for weeks.
The first wave was a tsunami for almost any country. The arrival of the covid-19 puzzled those who have been waiting for a pandemic for years. “#Everyone speculated that the great pandemic would be a mutation of the influenza virus, with the 1918 mutation as a reference”, reflects #Antoni #Trilla, head of the #Preventive #Medicine #Service of the #Hospital #Clínic de #Barcelona. #Other coronaviruses had arrived, such as SARS or MERS, but covid-19 has been more complex. “#It has acquired the ability to transfer itself through the air, through aerosols, and it has many asymptomatic patients who are potentially infectious: it creates invisible patients who are circulating without our knowing it,” says #Trilla.
The northern hemisphere summer seemed like a turning point. #Across #Europe, infections, hospitalizations and deaths fell. #But it was an illusion and before #September a second wave had to be faced, which in many countries would prove stronger than the first.
#It should be borne in mind that the diagnostic capacity is not always the same and the greater the collapse of the health system, the easier it is for patients who have not been tested to die. #Even so, countries that had not suffered the severe scourge of the first wave are now among those that have reported the most deaths since #August. #For example, #Hungary (100 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants since summer), #Poland (68) or #Lithuania (45). #Of this group, the worst situation is experienced in #Bulgaria (100), #Slovenia (100) and #Hungary (120), which seem to be suffering this winter the worst outbreak on the continent of the whole year. #Worse than #Spain or #Italy in spring, when both were around 60 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants.
“There is a combination of factors that influence the differences between the two waves: weather conditions, relaxation of the measurements and penetration according to the initial exposure,” explains #Daniel López-Acuña, former #Director of #Emergencies at the #World #Health #Organization (WHO). #Where there have been more deaths since summer, it is likely to be “because there would be a more susceptible population, more weather changes, relaxation of measures and overconfidence.”
#But there are also countries that have two hard waves, such as #Belgium, the #United #Kingdom, #Spain, #Italy or #France. #Germany is in lower numbers (fewer than 30 deaths per 1,000,000 inhabitants), but since the summer it has reported more than twice the deaths than before. The complexity of fighting the virus is also demonstrated by the data of deaths from countries such as #South #Korea or #Japan, whose test and tracking strategies are an example around the world: both countries have had more than double the number of deaths between #August and #December than before.
There will be more than two million: the excess
The nearly two million deaths caused by the virus are officially reported for having tested positive in a PCR test. They are incomplete data and difficult to compare by country, since not all follow the same methodology for their computation. The total death toll will be higher and will take years to determine exactly.
#Some countries have a better estimate thanks to civil registries, whose data allow calculating deaths in excess of a normal year. #According to the latest figures available for 2020, #Spain is the one with the worst excess: since #March, records have observed some 77,000 more deaths than usual in previous years. There are 165 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants, above #Bulgaria (162) and #Belgium (143). The INE, after analyzing the data from the first wave, has confirmed that almost all the excess deaths are from confirmed or suspected covid.
#Data from countries that publish excess deaths also give some clues about the sex and age of the victims: the pandemic hit the elderly hardest and was more lethal for men than for women. #Spain stands out for having the highest excess mortality among people between 15 and 64 years of age and for being one of the few where there were weeks that registered an excess of more than 140% among those over 85. #That is, for every 5 older than they had died in that period in previous years, twelve did this year. #In #Italy, the excess in those age groups reached 80%, in the #United #States 30% and in #Germany 20%. The difference is explained, to a large extent, by the uncontrolled intrusion of the virus into #Spanish residences in the first part of the year, as the CSIC epidemiologist #Marina #Pollán explained to EL PAÍS, “The residences have been particularly terrible places in #Spain because there have been large outbreaks, many deaths and, on occasions, even difficult access to hospitals ”.
The incipient third wave in several #European countries and in the #United #States is likely to be affected by the new variant of the virus, which the first reliable studies suggest that it would be 60% more contagious than the previous one. “The emergence of new virus variants is a very common element in respiratory viruses,” they explain from the group of experts on covid-19 of the #National #Epidemiology #Center (CNE). “#In fact, the seasonal influenza epidemics each winter are the result of the appearance of new antigenic variants of influenza viruses, for which the population does not have total immunity,” they add.
#Waiting to see its effect on the new infections, probably coupled with the increase in social activity in half the world around the end of the year holidays, the epidemiologist #Adam #Kurcharski alerted that a virus that is more transmissible than more lethal is more worrying: “An increase in something that grows exponentially (such as the transmission of this virus) may have a greater effect than the same increase in something that only affects the final result (the severity of the disease) ”.
#With information from #Jessica #Mouzo.
#Information about the coronavirus
– #Here you can follow the last hour on the evolution of the pandemic
– #Restrictions search engine: #What can I do in my municipality?
– #This is how the coronavirus curve evolves in the world
– #Download the tracking application for #Spain
– #Guide to action against the disease
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