SA excess deaths peak at fraction of previous Covid-19-driven record

06 January 2022 - 06:53
By Antony Sguazzin
Official deaths due to Covid-19 declined to 425 from 428.
Image: Bloomberg Official deaths due to Covid-19 declined to 425 from 428.

Excess deaths in SA fell for the first week in three, adding to evidence that the Omicron-driven wave of coronavirus infections has been shorter and less severe than those caused by previous variants.

Excess deaths, a measure of the number of deaths against a historical average, in the week to December 26 fell to 3,016 from 3,087 the week earlier, the SA Medical Research Council said in a report on Wednesday. Official deaths due to Covid-19 declined to 425 from 428. The excess death decline was the first in three weeks.

“The number of estimated excess deaths has begun to decrease, consistent with the trend in the number of confirmed Covid-19 deaths,” the council said. “This observation is strongly supportive that a significant proportion of the current excess mortality being observed in SA is likely to be attributable to Covid-19.”

While official deaths from the coronavirus during the course of the pandemic have been tallied at 91,561, the excess death figure is more than 286,000. Excess death data is considered a more accurate way of measuring the true affect of Covid-19 than official data.

SA, which announced the discovery of the highly infectious omicron variant on November 25, has served as a harbinger of how the latest stage of the pandemic may play out globally. Excess deaths have peaked at less than a sixth of their level in January, when SA had yet to begin vaccinating people and the country was hit by an outbreak of the Beta variant. 

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