BC had unexplained excess deaths during first weeks of coronavirus pandemic

Jun 21 2020, 2:18 pm

British Columbia experienced more deaths than normal during the first weeks of the coronavirus pandemic, even after accounting for virus-related deaths, according to new data from Statistics Canada.

In a news release Friday, Statistics Canada explained the concept of “excess mortality” means there are more deaths during a period of time than expected given past trends.

From March 15 to April 25 there were 372 more deaths in BC than any of the previous five years for those same week.

BC reported 99 coronavirus-related deaths during that period, meaning there are still 273 excess deaths with no clear explanation.

excess mortality chart

Number of deaths by week from January to April, British Columbia, 2015 to 2020 (Statistics Canada)

“Beyond deaths attributed to the virus itself, the pandemic may result in increased deaths from other causes,” the report said.

BC, Alberta, and Quebec all experienced excess mortality at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic as well. There was no data available from Ontario.

In all three provinces, StatsCan said excess mortality was observed for both men and women and appeared to disproportionately affect those over age 85.