Reported numbers of cases and deaths from the pandemic can be affected by testing capacity and policy in each country. Therefore comparing the impact of covid-19 between countries is challenging.
At any given time, a certain number of people die due to many various reasons, such as old age, illness, violence, traffic accidents, and more. Researchers can predict the number of deaths from these causes over coming months or years, known as expected deaths, analyzing the information gathered from previous experiences. However, pandemics, conflicts, and natural and man-made disasters cause additional deaths above and beyond those expected, which are known as 'excess deaths'.
"Measuring excess deaths allows us to quantify, monitor, and track pandemics such as COVID-19 in a way that goes above testing and reporting capacity and policy," says Ariel Karlinsky, a student at the Hebrew University. "However, until now, there has been no global, frequently updated repository of mortality data across countries."
We used our data to answer several questions. Specifically, we wanted to find out whether the pandemic caused excess deaths in the countries we covered and, if so, to what extent. We were also curious to see whether the numbers of excess deaths were matched across countries."
In several countries which had the worst covid-19 cases including Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Mexico excess deaths were more than 50% above the expected annual mortality rate, in Peru, Bulgaria, North Macedonia and, Serbia.
Moreover, the researchers realized that while many countries have been reporting their COVID-19 death rates accurately, some including Nicaragua, Belarus, Egypt, and Uzbekistan were giving false information.
“We hope that our dataset will provide a valuable resource to help other investigators answer their own questions about the pandemic. We are constantly expanding our dataset and will continue to track excess mortality around the world."