South Africa: The Majority of Excess Deaths in South Africa Are Due to Covid-19

South African president Cyril Ramaphosa, right, and his deputy David Mabuza with the first batch of Covid-19 vaccine at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg on February 1, 2021.

Lockdown restrictions are not responsible for the massive increase in mortality.

The South African Medical Research Council (MRC) has been publishing excess deaths weekly during the Covid-19 pandemic. We and others have been stating that the excess deaths are mostly due to Covid-19, and not the lockdown restrictions. This has been disputed by some people. We therefore asked Alex van den Heever of the Wits School of Governance to analyse the data. This article is longer and more technical than those we usually publish but it convincingly shows that excess deaths are almost entirely due to SARS-CoV-2 infections.

The regular publication by the South African Medical Research Council (MRC) of excess deaths in 2020 and 2021 tends to pass with only nominal commentary on their implications for understanding the impact of Covid-19 on South Africa. The purpose of this article is to analyse the excess death information to better understand its relationship to the Covid-19 pandemic.

How are excess deaths quantified?

The method used by the MRC to estimate excess deaths broadly involves three steps:

The data for natural deaths for people over the age of one are sourced from death registrations. As the cause of death is not yet...

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