COVID-19 has been on the tip of everyone’s tongues this year, but how does its death toll compare with Malta’s other causes of death?
Information recently published by Health Minister Chris Fearne in Parliament, in response to a query by independent MP Godfrey Farrugia, could help provide the answer.
The data below comes with a few provisos.
Firstly, COVID-19 has only been with us for eight months and is being compared with other causes of death for which there is an entire year’s worth of data.
Secondly, the COVID-19 deaths aren’t spread out evenly over the entire months. While Malta registered nine COVID-19 deaths between 7th March (the day ‘Patient Zero’ was confirmed) and 7th July, it registered 67 between 7th July and 8th November. While Malta went into quasi-lockdown during the first wave, it has imposed much looser restrictions during the second one.
Thirdly, the COVID-19 deaths refer to the official figures published by the Health Ministry. As confirmed by Fearne in Parliament, COVID-19 was the underlying cause of death for 73% of the first 64 COVID-19 victims.
That being said, these are Malta’s leading causes of death in 2019, compared with the number of COVID-19 patients who died since the start of the pandemic.
A total of 3,090 people died last year, with practically a third of those dying of circulatory diseases, including heart attacks and apoplexy. Cancer was the second-highest cause of death (796 deaths) and respiratory diseases the third-highest (387 deaths).
Influenza is a respiratory illness so flu-related deaths are likely included in this category, but Lovin Malta was unable to get this confirmed by the Health Ministry of the time of writing.
193 people died of mental conditions (mainly dementia), 183 died of endocrine disorders (mainly diabetes), 97 died of digestive diseases, and 90 died in accidents, suicides and homicides.
88 died of neurological disorders, 73 of kidney and bladder diseases, 42 of non-respiratory infections, and 87 of other causes.
What do you make of these statistics?