The number of deaths in Bulgaria in November is almost twice as high as before the pandemic. This was announced by the European statistical agency Eurostat on Friday. Eurostat published data on over-mortality, according to which it was the highest in Bulgaria out of 30 countries in Europe from which data was collected.
Over-mortality is the increase in the average number of deaths, compared to deaths in the respective month 2016-2019. The indicator registers deaths for all reasons, not only COVID-19 deaths in hospitals, and is considered a reliable indicator of the actual scale of health crisis 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 in the base period before the pandemic. This is the highest death toll in the EU for the month, which turns out to be the deadliest in Europe last year. Despite the growth of deaths in Bulgaria in November, it failed to surpass the record of November 2020, when the death rate in Bulgaria was 94%. In October 2021, the over-mortality rate was 73.1%, and in September - 51.1%.
From the beginning of the pandemic until June 2020 is the only period in which fewer deaths were registered in Bulgaria than in 2016 - 2019.
The measurement of Eurostat coincides with the fourth wave of coronavirus infection in Bulgaria, which developed from late August to early December 2021. On November 18, former Health Minister Stoycho Katsarov announced that the epidemic wave was broken, which is not confirmed by statistics of Eurostat. On November 26, he awarded his COVID-19 adviser for good health crisis management, and President Rumen Radev praised the caretaker government for tackling the epidemic.
The increase in mortality in November is particularly high in Romania, where the death rate in November was 83.9% - second in the EU after Bulgaria. Slovenia is third with 52.5% more deaths during the month compared to the pre-pandemic years.
Eurostat notes that November 2021 is the second-highest mortality month in Europe since the beginning of the pandemic, with more deaths in November 2020 alone, when 40% more people lost their lives. The period coincided with the extremely severe 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, about 27% more people than usual died in the 30 countries observed, the largest increase in the last year.
Excessive mortality varies significantly across 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 residents fully immune to COVID-19. Romania, which has the second-highest emergency mortality rate, is also the second least vaccinated country, with about 40% of the population covered.
Data from the European Health Agency show that as of January 14, 28.2% of Bulgarians have been vaccinated against COVID-19, and 6.5% have had a booster dose. According to both indicators, Bulgaria retains its last place in Europe, where the average levels of vaccination are 69.1%.
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