The number of deaths in Bulgaria in November is almost twice as high as before the pandemic. This was announced by the European Statistical Office Eurostat on Friday. Eurostat published data on excess mortality, according to which it was the highest in Bulgaria out of 30 countries in Europe from which data were collected.
Excess mortality is the increase in the average number of deaths, compared with deaths in each month 2016-2019. The indicator records deaths for all reasons, not just covid-19 deaths in hospitals, and is considered a reliable indicator of the actual extent of health crises caused by covid-19. The data are collected from weekly reports sent by national statistical authorities in European countries to Eurostat.
According to the results in November 2021, the deaths in Bulgaria were 88.2% of those for the same month during the base period before the pandemic. It is the highest death rate in the EU for the month, which turns out to be the deadliest in Europe last year. Despite the increase in the number of deaths in Bulgaria in November, it did not manage to exceed the record from November 2020, when the death rate in Bulgaria was 94%. In October 2021 the excess mortality was 73.1% and in September – 51.1%.
From the beginning of the pandemic to June 2020 is the only period when fewer deaths were registered in Bulgaria than in 2016 – 2019.
The Eurostat survey coincides with the fourth wave of coronavirus infection in Bulgaria, which developed from late August to early December 2021. On 18 November, former Health Minister Stoycho Katsarov announced that the epidemic wave was broken, which is not confirmed by Eurostat statistics. On November 26, he rewarded his covid-19 adviser for good health crisis management, and President Rumen Radev praised the caretaker government for addressing the epidemic.
The increase in mortality in November is particularly high in Romania, where mortality in November was 83.9% – second in the EU after Bulgaria. Slovenia is in third place with 52.5% more deaths during the month compared to the years before the pandemic.
Eurostat notes that November 2021 is the second highest mortality month in Europe since the beginning of the pandemic, with more deaths only in November 2020, when 40% more people lost their lives. The period coincided with the extremely serious second wave of covid-19 in Western Europe, which led to closures and national quarantines in almost all Western countries.
By comparison, in November 2021, approximately 27% more people died than usual in the 30 countries observed, the largest increase in the past year.
The excess mortality rate varies considerably between European countries. Unlike Bulgaria and Romania, which have the highest mortality rates, Italy reports 4% more deaths and France 4.9%. Sweden is the only European country that did not see an increase in deaths in November. The Scandinavian country reported a decline of 0.5%.
Reuters notes that Bulgaria, where nearly twice as many people died in November as the average death toll, has registered more than 100 people a day for weeks in hospitals alone. The media added that Bulgaria is the least vaccinated country in Europe, with only one in three inhabitants completely immune to covid-19. Romania, which has the second highest mortality rate in emergencies, is also the second least vaccinated country, with about 40% of the population covered.
Data from the European Health Agency show that on 14 January, 28.2% of Bulgarians were vaccinated against covid-19 and 6.5% received a booster dose. According to both indicators, Bulgaria retains its last place in Europe, where average vaccination levels are 69.1%.
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