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Official statistics released by the Philippines Statistics Authority (PSA) show a huge rise in deaths in 2021.
On 24 February 2023, the PSA released its 2021 Vital Statistics data including numbers of deaths from all causes.
“In 2021, a total of 879,429 deaths were registered in the Philippines, an increase of 43.2 percent from 613,936 in 2020”, wrote the PSA.
Let’s round the number to 43% just to keep things simple.
How unusual is it for deaths to rise by 43%?
Well, according to Philippines historical data going back to the year 2000, the largest annual rise in deaths prior to this dramatic rise in 2021 was 5.7% in 2005.
The graph below shows the excess death rates in the Philippines since 2005. We’ve used the PSA figures for death rates (deaths per thousand population) rather than the straightforward number of deaths to take into account changes in population size over time.
We think you will agree that a 43% rise in the death rate is highly abnormal! (More details about the graph are given in the notes at the end)
The data behind the graph can be downloaded here
Are the excess deaths due to covid?
You may ask whether the excess deaths are simply covid deaths? In 2021 the PSA reported 112,772 covid deaths. In all, 12.8% of total deaths were attributable to covid in that year, they say.
If there were 43% more deaths than normal, but only 12.8% of all deaths were covid deaths, then death from covid cannot be the explanation for the majority of these excess deaths! If we look at the data in the way the PSA has looked at it – comparing deaths in 2021 with deaths in 2020 (which of course was a pandemic year) – there were 265,493 extra deaths.
[Incidentally, we think it makes more sense to compare deaths in 2021 with the average number of deaths in the pre-pandemic years of 2015-2019 (when there were 586,630 deaths per year). Measuring that way there were even more excess deaths – 292,799. That’s a 49.9% rise in deaths compared to pre-pandemic levels! But we will be conservative and use the PSA’s way of measuring and say there were ‘only’ 265,493 extra deaths.]
It likely that some of the 112,772 people who were classified as dying from covid in 2021 would have died from flu or from other comorbidities in the same year. So, these covid deaths should not all be seen as ‘extra deaths’. Nevertheless, even we assume they were all extra deaths, that still leaves 152,721 whose untimely deaths have no explanation at all.
For each family of those 152,721 people, an unexplained tragedy struck in 2021.
The figures come to life even more if we imagine them as plane crashes. Let’s use a plane carrying about 300 people – maybe an Airbus 380 – to measure deaths.
In 2021 the extra deaths (including deaths from covid) equate to more than two such planes crashing every single day!
And if we take the covid deaths out, the excess deaths still amount to between one and two such crashes daily for the entire year.
With just a few consecutive days of such carnage one can be sure there would have been a public outcry and the President would have been on TV promising to do something about it.
Instead, we wonder whether the average Filipino even knows that the carnage is happening. The media is certainly not talking about it!
What caused all these extra deaths?
So, what is the cause – or causes – underlying these excess deaths? We need to look for things that were different during the pandemic compared with the pre-pandemic years of 2015-2019
Here are some possibilities which, we argue, should be carefully examined:
The people of the Philippines need to know that in 2021 there were huge numbers of deaths, far more than normal. Furthermore, PSA death statistics for 2022 remain partially complete, so we don’t know whether people are still dying at unusually high rates.
Filipinos deserve answers! Please act to spread the word.
Thank you to SuperSally of https://supersally.substack.com/ for spearheading the provision of PSA statistics and providing the intimate local knowledge and background that enabled the creation of this page.
Notes for the graph
The source data is the ‘crude death rate’ published by the PSA for 2000-2018 and crude death rates published annually by the PSA for 2019, 2020 and 2021. This is the number of deaths per thousand population.
(Using a death rate – deaths per thousand of the population – helps allow for increases or decreases in the number of deaths which are simply due to changes in the size of the population.)
For years 2005-2019 the line shows the percentage excess death rate compared with the average death rate over the preceding five years.
For 2020 and 2021 the percentage excess death rate is calculated compared with the average death rate in the five years before the pandemic (2015-2019).
The way the PSA calculates crude death rates is explained here.
All data sources were accessed on 5th April 2023
PSA data on deaths for 2021: https://psa.gov.ph/content/registered-deaths-philippines-2021-1
PSA data on deaths for 2020: https://psa.gov.ph/content/registered-deaths-philippines-2020
PSA data on deaths for 2019: https://psa.gov.ph/content/registered-deaths-philippines-2019
PSA data on deaths for 2000-2018 https://view.officeapps.live.com/op/view.aspx?src=https%3A%2F%2Fpsa.gov.ph%2Fsites%2Fdefault%2Ffiles%2Fkmcd%2FSummary%2520of%2520Death%2520Statistics%2520in%2520the%2520Philippines%2520%25282000-2018%2529.xlsx&wdOrigin=BROWSELINK