Excess mortality in 2022 is so far higher than in either 2020 or 2021. | Pere Bota

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In the Balearics in July, there were 197 more deaths than the forecast number. These made July the month with the second highest excess mortality since the start of the Covid pandemic; in January 2021 there were 214 more deaths than expected.

Public health and preventive medicine specialist Joan Carles March says that excess mortality is higher in 2022 than in 2021. In 2020, there were 286 more deaths than expected. This figure increased to 732 in 2021. Up to the start of August this year there were 934; March points to a particular increase in the 45 to 64 age group in July.

He explains that available data prevent causes from being specified but that the excess mortality figures from the daily mortality monitoring system for all causes at the Carlos III Health Institute "show a trend that is as clear as it is worrying; the increase in deaths in people aged over 85 in July was very high".

While he does attribute deaths to Covid, he also highlights the heat and believes that the degree to which the health service has been overstretched is a factor.

"Some of the excess deaths in July are linked to the pressure on the health service, mainly the situation in primary care, with delayed appointments and a lack of follow-up of patients with chronic patients, as was done before the pandemic. It is evident that Covid has caused the health service to be very stretched. There are patients with cancer, HIV and chronic conditions who have not been adequately followed up. There has also been a delay in diagnoses."

For the most fragile people, he says that a loss of antibodies over the months can leave them exposed to coronavirus, which would complicate existing health problems. However, when it comes to a fourth Covid jab, he adds that "a problem with the available vaccines is that they do not follow the evolutionary rhythm of the variants".

March concludes that treating Covid like flu was "a huge mistake". "It is normal to want to eliminate measures, but the reality is that they were removed too soon."