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How many people have died from Covid? The government becomes even more involved with the data


The long-awaited thawing of data from killed by coronavirus in Spain it has caused a new stir. The Ministry of Health maintained without updating the figure for 12 days, and this Friday finally confirmed what many feared: those killed by Covid-19 were many more than previously announced, although there was a new controversy. And is that this figure has nothing to do with the projected by studies of different government agencies, which raise the deaths in the pandemic to more than 40,000. What is the real one?

That is the question that many ask themselves, after the central executive confirmed 28,313 deaths, a figure that in the afternoon rose to 28,315, after accounting for the two deaths reported by the autonomous communities in the last 24 hours and that they had not been included in the initial estimate provided in the morning (they were data at the end of Thursday).

The problem is that health authorities only compute confirmed deceased, that is, those who had undergone a PCR test, and continue to leave out the suspects who are included in the counts carried out by the National Statistics Institute (INE) and the Daily Mortality Monitoring System (MoMo), which place an excess of deaths in the pandemic, with respect to to the data of other years, well above: 47,998 and 43,340 people, respectively.

And why is this difference so great? Very easy. These two organisms present a count of deceased that encompasses all causes, and from Health argue that they only count deaths confirmed by PCR, as other countries do, because all excess deaths cannot be attributed to the coronavirus. However, this new dance of figures has once again aroused reluctance, since there are many who denounce that the Government makes accounts that are far from reality.

Despite everything, both the Minister of Health, Salvador Illa, as the director of the Center for Coordination of Health Alerts and Emergencies (CCAES), Fernando SimónThey continue to defend the numbers provided by the Executive to the brim. First, because of the "enormous transparency exercise" that has been carried out since the pandemic began (although some do not share it, given that there have been 12 days in which the data has not been updated), and on the other, because being measured are different things.

"The difference between the data on excess mortality and death from confirmed cases is due to the fact that in one case the excess mortality is calculated with respect to that estimated in the previous year and the other data is death from a case of confirmed diagnosis" Illa said. Health recognizes that part of this excess mortality may be due to the coronavirus, but it also points out that there will be people who have died for other different reasons.

According to Simón, "we work with the confirmed" with PCR tests, and although "there has been some controversy," he indicated that the series was frozen to be updated and "cleaned" after the change in the surveillance system and data collection. As he pointed out, it was a must to "consolidate, update and guarantee its quality". Although these explanations have been of little use, since both the minister and the director of the CCAES have rained criticism again.


And it is that the dance of figures is not new. In recent months the change in count has caused a strong controversy, which had its culmination at the end of last May. It was then that Health decided to change the criteria for reporting deaths and erase almost 2,000 dead from the series.

Simón himself attributed it to adjustments to eliminate duplicate data or suspicious cases that were not confirmed, among others. But now part of those 'resurrected', as they were called in many media, have died again, after the new update of data that Health has carried out.

The reluctance aroused by the swings of the Ministry regarding data is such that even on social networks theories of all kinds circulate about the reasons that could explain this fluctuation. One of the most repeated is the one that alludes to the fact that the death figures are not updated until the more than 40,000 collected by the INE and the MoMo because the Government intends to attribute these excess deaths to the management of the autonomous communities, now that it is about to start the so-called 'new normal'. In this phase, Health will no longer hold sole command, and each region will be responsible for managing and deciding on the measures adopted and the limits imposed.

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