Hospital nurses caring for a patient with Covid. / sur

The majority of deaths among hospital patients with Covid are from another cause

The Junta de Andalucía's Ministry of Health has set up a scheme to differentiate between patients who die because of the virus and those that test positive for the coronavirus but die from another cause

Ángel Escalera

In the current phase of the coronavirus pandemic, with a large proportion of the population vaccinated, the mortality statistics for Covid differ from those issued when the virus was causing the most devastation. Now, the majority of patients with SARS-CoV-2 who die in Andalucía and in Malaga do so from another illness. In other words, they die with Covid but not from Covid, experts have explained.

For example, someone has a heart attack and is admitted to hospital. All patients are checked for Covid and some test positive, but the reason this person is in hospital is their heart problem, not the virus. If the patient does not survive the heart attack, that was the cause of death, not Covid. Nevertheless, he or she will be included in the Junta de Andalucía’s list of Covid deaths, even though the virus was not the reason they died.

A few months ago the regional Health Ministry set up a different system to separate the figures for people who die from Covid and those who die with Covid. So far there is no conclusive data to be able to give a specific percentage in either case, but it is clear that the number of patients who die with the virus but from another cause is much higher nowadays than when the pandemic began.

Death certificate

Doctors who care for patients who are admitted because of the virus have explained that in hospitals they do differentiate on the death certificate. “When a patient dies with coronavirus, but not because of coronavirus, we put that it is the secondary cause, not the primary cause of death,” they said.

However, that distinction is not reflected in the figures issued by the Andalusian Ministry of Health every Tuesday and Friday for deaths, infections, hospitalisations, patients cured after having the virus and number of vaccinations administered. Therefore, the figures for deaths twice a week do not tell us how many patients have lost their lives directly due to the negative effects of the virus and how many tested positive for Covid but died from another cause.

Last Friday, the figures showed that since the pandemic began 2,622 people have died in Malaga province and 15,039 in Andalucía.