Italy’s Covid-19 death toll ‘could be underestimated by 19,000’

The coronavirus death toll in March and April may be nearly 19,000 higher than the official count of 32,000, according to a new report.

The official death count, which experts have long believed is underestimated, is not “reliable” according to the study released on Wednesday by Italy's national social security institute, the Istituto Nazionale della Previdenza Sociale (INPS),

The INPS study, titled “Analysis of Mortality in the Covid-19 Epidemic”, looked at the total number of deaths in Italy during the March-April period and compared it with death tolls in previous years.

The study showed that some 156,000 total deaths were recorded in Italy in March and April, which is almost 47,000 higher than the average in those months between 2015 and 2019.

But only 27,938 deaths were officially linked to coronavirus during that period by the Civil Protection Agency, whose toll forms the basis of national statistics, the INPS said.

There were 18,971 more deaths than usual, with the vast majority (18,412) recorded in the north of Italy.

“With due caution”, the report said, “we can attribute a great part of the higher deaths that happened in the last two months, with respect to the baseline, to the ongoing epidemic”.

It said that the number of deaths from the coronavirus was 28,000 in March and April alone.


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