Without coronavirus Italy had 650 thousand deaths per year - IDESA

Report Nº: 85402/04/2020

Without coronavirus Italy had 650 thousand deaths per year

Images of deaths in Italy from the coronavirus generate panic. Objectively assessed, these deaths represent a small portion of the people who die each year. Moreover, because they are people at very advanced age and with pre-existing diseases, most would have died without coronavirus.

Among the most shocking news is that Italy has already surpassed China in the number of reported cases of coronavirus, the country where the disease originated. There are 100,000 registered infections, 10,000 of which have died. China, on the other hand, has already stabilized the number of reported cases at 80,000 and has about 3,000 deaths with coronavirus. This generates enormous anxiety in other countries waiting for a worsening of the outbreak.

These statistics are accompanied by images in photos and videos of the most neuralgic area of Italy with accumulated coffins waiting to be cremated and military trucks transporting the dead bodies of the coronavirus. The pandemic shown in this way appears as a war.

What is Italy objectively suffering? Although the dynamics of the infection are still alive, and the prognosis is not easy to make, by observing Italy’s vital statistics, it is possible to dimension the phenomenon. According to official data from the Italian Institute of Statistics (istat.it), it can be seen that in 2019

  • The total population of Italy was about 60 million
  • Annual births were about 436,000.
  • Annual deaths amounted to approximately 650,000.

These data show that Italy is a society aging rapidly. The population, before the appearance of the coronavirus, was shrinking by having more deaths than births. In perspective, the number of deaths with coronavirus represents a smaller proportion of the deaths that occur each year. Assuming the mortality maintains the path of the last two months, in 2020, people who die with coronavirus will hardly exceed 10% of total deaths.

An additional contribution to the understanding of the phenomenon is provided by a study published in the Jama magazine (a prestigious international medical publication -jamanetwork.com-) carried out by 3 Italian doctors who are at the center of the pandemic. Out of 355 cases of deaths with coronavirus in Italy, it appears that the average age is 80 years, with a concentration between 72 and 88 years. 25% had a pre-existing chronic disease when they contracted the coronavirus, another 25% had 2 pre-existing diseases and 50% had 3 or more diseases. Only 3 cases were elderly without pre-existing conditions. This is another indication that many deaths occurring in Italy would have occurred anyway, without coronavirus. What the coronavirus would have caused is to make them die in intensive care, while without the coronavirus, they would have had a less traumatic death.

This evidence suggests that linking the spread of the coronavirus to death count does not help to an objective assessment. In every population, there are deaths, every day, for different reasons. Because of Italy’s demographic characteristics, many people died of coronavirus because they were at the end of their life cycle. It is possible that in young populations immersed in poverty, as there are in Argentina, the impacts of the coronavirus are similar. But this evidence is not yet known. In any case, the sensationalism of showing coffins generates panic that does not help to attack the problem.

The images from Italy promote the idea that confinement is the only way out. When in reality, it is an emergency action, with enormous social costs. Fear has produced a great imbalance between the applause to health professionals –who still care for a marginal number of coronavirus patients in Argentina– and the indifference to the anguish of millions of Argentines who are already suffering the consequences of confinement because they have lost their income.


Highly effective reporting to reveal accurate information on a wide range of research areas.
Consult us about your project to provide you with the solutions we have at your disposal.