Minus a million: PLOS ONE magazine published a study of mortality from covid in Russia

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Minus a million: PLOS ONE magazine published a study of mortality from covid in Russia
Minus a million: PLOS ONE magazine published a study of mortality from covid in Russia
24 November, 17:08SciencePhoto: Business Insider
The average Russian who died due to the pandemic in 2020 would otherwise live another 14 years, according to the authors of the publication, researchers from the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis.

Covid losses are not easy to estimate. This may be hindered by incomplete or inadequate statistics, difficulties in determining the cause of death, problems with tracking long-term effects. All this is especially true for Russia, where mortality was very high, but its estimates vary greatly depending on whether they were received within the country or abroad. Researchers from the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) have conducted the most detailed analysis of pandemic deaths in Russia to date. The results are published in the journal PLOS ONE, according to MedicalXpress.

Scientists used the concept of excess mortality, which calculates the difference between the actual number of deaths and what it would have been in the absence of a pandemic. Unlike other counting methods, excess deaths include deaths that may have been caused by lockdowns, travel restrictions, delayed operations, etc., giving a much more complete picture.

Using data from Rosstat, scientists calculated excess mortality for Russia and its regions for 2020 and 2021, and for 2020 they also estimated mortality by age, gender and place of residence (in rural areas or cities). It turned out that in two years the pandemic claimed the lives of more than a million Russians.

“A number of researchers in Russia and outside of it received more or less similar estimates”, - says Sergey Shcherbov, lead author of the study, commenting on the results. “However, thanks to the advanced population projection methodology and software that we developed at IIASA, we were able to produce population projections for all regions, separating urban and rural populations, as well as gender and age groups. This allowed us to make a very detailed assessment of excess mortality from COVID-19 in Russia and its regions”.

The study showed that mortality in different regions of the country was very different. “Regions of the North Caucasus, where there is a high excess mortality, are known for their tradition of older people living in large families with their children and grandchildren”, - says study co-author Dalkhat Ediyev. "This tradition may have contributed to the higher casualties". In 2021, excess mortality ranged from 27% to 52% across regions, with the situation worse in urban areas. Population density, as well as sociocultural, economic, and possibly geographic differences, may have contributed to this.

Scientists introduced a new indicator into the study - the average life expectancy of the dead (Mean Remaining Life Expectancy of the Deceased). It shows how many years those whose deaths were classified as excess deaths could live. It turned out that the average Russian who died due to the pandemic in 2020 would otherwise have lived for another 14 years. “This discovery refutes the widely held belief that excess mortality during the pandemic was mainly observed among those who had only a few years to live, especially among women”, - Shcherbov notes.

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