“Compared with the predicted number of natural deaths from historical data in the week ending August 4, Free State had 118% more, Gauteng had 102% more, Eastern Cape had 96% more, KwaZulu-Natal had 69% more, Mpumalanga had 63% more, Northern Cape had 51% more, North West had 38% more, Western Cape had 37% more and Limpopo had 15% more.”
Explaining the epidemic's different provincial trajectories, Prof Debbie Bradshaw, chief specialist scientist from the council's burden of disease research unit, said: “The Western Cape, the first province to experience community spread, stands out as having a much slower epidemic.
“It took several weeks to set in and is now taking time to recede. In contrast, the epidemics in the Eastern Cape, Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal had much quicker increases.”
The number of deaths from unnatural causes, such as road accidents and homicides, was 34% below the predicted number in the latest week analysed.
The authors of the report said one approach to understanding Covid-19 mortality was to compare their estimates with statistics issued daily by the department of health.
“This comparison is hampered to some degree by the fact that the excess deaths are classified by week in which the death occurred; the reported Covid-19 deaths are classified by date the numbers are reported to the department,” they said.
“If all excess natural deaths were due to Covid-19, and all Covid-19 deaths were perfectly identified and reported, the two series would be identical.
“The number of estimated excess deaths has begun to decrease, consistent with the trend in the number of confirmed Covid-19 deaths.
“Though more data are needed on the underlying causes of death, this observation is strongly supportive that a significant proportion of the current excess mortality being observed in SA is likely to be attributable to Covid-19.”