On January 4, Facebook page ბიბლიის მორწმუნე ქრისტიანები (Bible Believing Christians) published a post, claiming that the coronavirus pandemic is a hoax. It also provides Germany’s mortality figures for 2017-2020. According to the post, number of deaths for all causes is much lower in 2020 compared to the deaths reported in 2017-2019. The post is accompanied by a screenshot from countrymeters.info, containing information about the mortality rates in Germany in 2020.
On January 7, 2021, Facebook user Shore Shanidze also published an identical post in the group “Anti-COVID fascism movement,” where she claims that the pandemic actually does not exist. Providing Georgia’s statistical data, Shore Shanidze notes that number of COVID-19 deaths has reached 2,666 in Georgia with 90% of them actually attributed to the novel coronavirus. The author also provides number of deaths for all causes reported before December 2020, claiming that the figure has decreased compared to previous years.
Facebook user Kakhaber Kurtsikidze also published an identical post providing mortality rates in Georgia.
The information about the absence of pandemic represents a conspiracy theory and it is not well-founded. Moreover, German statistics provided in the post do not reflect the reality, because Germany’s mortality figures in weeks 1-50 of 2020 exceed average mortality figures of 2016-2019. The website referred to as the source is quite dubious and its IP address is located in Moscow. As for Georgia’s statistical data, National Statistics Office of Georgia has yet to publish the 2020 official data on deaths.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has outlined international guidelines for certification and classification of COVID-19 as cause of death. According to these guidelines, “a death due to COVID-19 may not be attributed to another disease (e.g. cancer) and should be counted independently of preexisting conditions that are suspected of triggering a severe course of COVID-19.”
The definition of COVID-19 cases was approved in Georgia on 31 January, 2020, in accordance with the definition provided by the World Health Organization.
It is noteworthy that according to the data released by EuroMOMO, a European mortality monitoring activity, compared to 2018 and 2019, number of deaths significantly increased in European countries in 2020 (see a graph).
Mortality rates in Germany
The 2017-2019 statistical data provided in the post published by Facebook page “ბიბლიის მორწმუნე ქრისტიანები” actually coincide with the official statistics (see a chart); however, the 2020 data do not show the real picture. The post refers to countrymeters.info as its source of information about mortality rates in 2020. The latter, however, notes that it is not the original source of statistics, but rather works to ensure that its “forecasts reflect a demographic picture as really as possible.” Moreover, the website’s “About the project” section is available only in Russian and its IP address is located in Moscow.
In fact, according to the data provided by the Federal Statistical Office of Germany, total number of deaths in weeks 1-50 of 2020 stood at 921,989. Difference from the 2016-2019 average number is 28,428. It is worth noting that week 50 covers 7 to 13 December. Thus, about two-week data need to be added. So, the 2020 statistical data are compared to weeks 1-50 data of previous years, not complete years.
to Statista, based on preliminary figures, number of deaths in Germany in 2016-2019 stood at 910,902, 932,272, 954, 874 and 939, 536, respectively. Since weeks 1-50 data for 2020 exceed weeks 1-50 data of previous years and simultaneously, record high death cases were reported in weeks 49-50 of 2020 – 21,953 and 22,897 (by 23% more than 2016-2019 average number), we can suppose that according to the last two week forecasts, mortality rates of the entire 2020 year will exceed the figures of past four years.
Source: The Federal Statistical Office of Germany
It is worth noting that the coronavirus death rates were remarkably low in Germany compared to other European countries that can be explained by Germany’s robust public health care system, early and widespread testing and so on. According to the Federal Statistical Office of Germany, since March 2020, the coronavirus pandemic has affected life in Germany. In particular, lockdown, home office and social distancing have caused changes in mobility. This has also impacted the development of traffic accidents and number of people killed or injured in accidents. The police recorded at total of roughly 670,000 accidents between March and the end of June 2020. The figure declined by 26% y/y.
It is especially noteworthy that measures to contain the pandemic can also ensure that fewer deaths are caused by other infectious diseases such as the flu, which also affects the difference from the average.
However, regardless of the above factors, the data provided by the Federal Statistical Office of Germany point at increased number of deaths in Germany compared to the same periods of previous years.
The National Statistics Office of Georgia (Geostat) has not yet published any information about death rates in 2020, whereas the data from the same year provided in Shore Shanidze’s post cannot be searched through open sources. According to Geostat’s calendar, the data on deaths will be released on March 30, 2021. Myth Detector reached out to Geostat for comments. The latter clarified that the 2020 figures have yet to be calculated and only preliminary data on vital statistics for January-June 2020 are available so far.
should be noted that as of January 11, a total of 239,229 coronavirus cases were reported in Georgia, 2,773 of which were fatal, making up 1.2% of confirmed cases.
According to the National Center for Disease Control and Public Health of Georgia, number of deaths totaled 12,474 in the first three months of 2020 that is a 4% decline compared to the same period of 2019 (13,011). Noteworthy that the first coronavirus death was reported only on April 4, when the country had only 156 confirmed cases. NCDC also notes that the same figure was by 5% more in 2019 compared to the first three months of previous year (total number of deaths in 2018 – 12,335).
Prepared by Lusine Pichikyan
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