When governments realized death tolls were too low, they revamped the way they counted them
Weeks after the virus hit Italy last year, doctors, funeral homes and officials realized that government Covid-19 death tolls were too low and many victims weren’t getting included. Informal tallies quickly revealed that thousands of deaths most likely caused by the virus had been omitted. Limited testing left the number of infections unknown, and many people had died outside hospitals, which were the initial source of fatality figures.
Italy’s statistical agency, Istat, scrambled to assemble more reliable information, collecting data from towns and cities faster than ever before. In May, it revealed what people at the front lines had suspected: a 39% jump in nationwide deaths between Feb. 21 and March 31 compared with previous years.
“Normally, they [the data] would have arrived six months later,” said Istat President Gian Carlo Blangiardo in May. “We made an extraordinary effort.”
Author: Daniel Michaels
Publication Date: 23 January 2021
Publication Site: WSJ