Russia’s updated statistics on coronavirus-linked deaths showed that over 100,000 people with COVID-19 had died in the pandemic by December, a number much higher than previously reported by government officials.
According to the data released Monday by Russia’s state statistics agency, Rosstat, a total of 116,030 people with COVID-19 died in Russia between April and November. The count included cases where the virus was not the main cause of death and where the virus was suspected but not confirmed.
The data also showed that the number of deaths from all causes in the first 11 months of this year grew by 229,700, or nearly 14%, compared to the same period in 2019.
Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova told a government meeting Monday that the increase reported by Rosstat for the most part is related to the coronavirus.
“I would like to note that over 81% of the increase in mortality in this period (between January and November) is related to COVID and the consequences of being infected with COVID,” Golikova said.
Golikova’s comment suggests that some 186,000 deaths may be linked to the coronavirus.
Both Rosstat’s count and Golikova’s assessment are much higher than the 55,827 deaths in the pandemic that have been reported by the Russian government’s coronavirus task force and that include deaths that occurred in December.
The Russian task force’s relatively low death count, which is reflected in the numbers released by the World Health Organization, raised questions among experts at home and abroad as Russia’s tally of confirmed coronavirus cases became one of the world’s largest.
Critics and Western media alleged that Russian authorities might have falsified the numbers for political purposes to play down the scale of the outbreak — accusations the authorities have bristled at.
Russian officials ascribed the differences between the numbers reported by the task force and Rosstat to different counting methods. The task force told the Interfax news agency in August that their tally only includes deaths where COVID-19 was the main cause.
Officials also said the task force uses data collected from medical facilities, while Rosstat gets its numbers from civil registry offices where the process of registering a death is finalized.