The INPS study on the true number of deaths from the epidemic


The National Institute of Social Security (INPS) has published a study according to which between March 1 and April 30, 2020 in Italy there were about 47 thousand more deaths than the average of previous years in the same period, against 28 thousand deaths officially attributed to coronavirus in the same period. There is therefore a gap of about 19 thousand deaths that has not ended up in the official bulletins of the regions and the Civil Protection. A further confirmation of the fact, known for months now, that the real death toll due to the coronavirus epidemic is much higher than the official one.

The INPS reminds that this data must be taken with caution, because a number of factors linked to the epidemic intervened to influence the number of deaths in March and April 2020. It is practically certain that part of these 19,000 deaths did not end up in the official bulletins because it was not due to COVID-19, but to the more or less direct consequences of the epidemic. The overload of the health system, for example, has worsened the assistance of people with other diseases and with sudden health problems: the expectations for ambulances, for one, have drastically increased in certain areas of Northern Italy. Other patients may have given up going to hospital for fear of infection, and therefore may not have received the treatment that would have saved their lives under normal conditions.

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There were also extraordinary characteristics of those two months that certainly lowered deaths due to other things: for example road accidents, which drastically decreased during the lockdown, or those at work.


To compare 2020 with previous years, in short, many factors must be taken into account. But it is the INPS itself that concludes that the real budget due to the epidemic is certainly higher than the official one, and there are further elements that confirm it: the excess deaths in fact affect men and older age groups to a greater extent , i.e. the categories in which the highest lethality rate is registered. The territorial distribution of these deaths, then, matches that of the spread of the coronavirus in Italy.

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«We can attribute a large part of the greater deaths in the last two months, compared to those of the baseline referring to the same period, to the ongoing epidemic “says INPS, who remembers how virological tests, the only ones that can end a person in official bulletins, were carried out mainly in the hospital, and very rarely when the death occurred in home.


To calculate the average deaths in Italy in previous years, INPS built a “baseline“, That is an average of the daily deaths in the period 2015-2019 weighted with the resident population. A first element found by the study was that between January and February 2020 the number of deaths was aligned with the baseline, and indeed even lower: it is due to a lower incidence of the seasonal flu mortality of the winter 2019/2020.

The percentage change in deaths in March and April 2020 compared to the average of previous years. (INPS)

But then things change. In the North, male mortality increased by 94 percent between March 1 and April 30, and by 75 percent among females; in the Center it grew by 14 percent and 8 percent, in the South by 6 percent and 4 percent. The increases are higher among the older age groups.


The provinces of Bergamo, Brescia, Cremona, Lodi and Piacenza all have a death rate of over 200%. Almost the entire north-west of Italy is affected by an increase in deaths of over 50%. The regions bordering the Adriatic Sea show moderate but significant increases. In southern Italy, Puglia, which was the region affected by the greatest returns from the north on the eve of the exit of the DPCM on 9 March, is the one that shows a greater increase in mortality.


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