April A-Z: X is for Excess Deaths

From the beginning of this global pandemic there has been great confusion over how best to record Covid deaths. Countries across the world initially seemed keen to play it all down, showing how well they were managing the virus when compared to their neighbours, massaging statistics to sanitise and minimise numbers. Weaknesses and flaws in national healthcare and social care and welfare systems had to be hidden at all costs – usually paid for in human lives.

Official numbers may variously only include people who died in hospital or only those who tested positive regardless of where they died, effectively negating everyone who died untested, undiagnosed, untreated, unrecognised as victims of the virus. Or people with underlying illnesses who have contracted Covid and died either at home or in hospital may officially have that underlying illness named as cause of death on their death certificate, hiding that coronavirus has been involved in their demise.

But in the long-term, I wonder how will history view retrospectively these dubious, creatively cautious, collateral-damage global death-tolls? Will it simply cut through the politics of denial and pretence portrayed in official national numbers and look instead at the one set of figures that matters most in every country regardless of how they may choose to play down the devastating effects of Covid on their population – namely excess deaths above and beyond the norm as averaged out over previous years?

In my mind looking at excess deaths is probably the most reliable way of working out how Covid has affected any particular population. How many more people than usual have died in this period? Because surely that gives the most realistic view of how many lives have been lost as a result of this Covid pandemic, and not just due to complications of infection, questionable or otherwise. But also including people who have died of unrelated heart problems or cancers or other terminal diseases who have not been able to access healthcare in a timely manner due to the virus taking precedence over resources. Surely a death is a death, and each one has to count for something towards the final reckoning?

The world has undoubtedly suffered great losses over this past year, and these losses continue globally, however much we may wish to welcome a return to free movement and economic stability sooner rather than later. Restrictions cannot stay in place forever, but neither can we deny reality. Getting the see-saw balance right between prioritising potential health over wealth during periods of lock-down, then prioritising wealth over health when the economy reopens again isn’t ever easy, and both have come at a collective cost we have no real option but to continue paying for a long time yet…

For this year’s April Blogging from A-Z Challenge I’m aiming for an alphabetical exploration of my personal thoughts and feelings on the continuing Covid 19 pandemic one year on, using a mix of poetry, pics and ponderings…

7 thoughts on “April A-Z: X is for Excess Deaths

  1. And the people who died that would have lived. Like car crash victims who didn’t survive because Covid over-crowded hospitals and used all the resources and people. People who had very treatable problems, but got infected with Covid while seeking help. And the nurses and doctors who have had years taken from their lives trying to fight this pandemic. Not to mention those who were injured by protestors who are opposed to, IDK, treating the virus?

    I love letter X posts! Always such variety.
    It’s hard to believe the blogging challenge is almost over. Then the after survey, reflections, and the road trip sign-up.
    Plus, I’m taking part in the Bout of Books read-a-thon in May. So much excitement!
    J Lenni Dorner~ Co-host of the #AtoZchallenge, OperationAwesome6 Debut Author Interviewer, Reference& Speculative Fiction Author

    Liked by 1 person

  2. India is one country where the true death toll will never be Known. Thousands of deaths in rural areas that are not reported. We thought we had it bad but watching the situation on TV is heartbreaking.

    Liked by 1 person

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