MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines reported a total of 768,504 deaths in 2021, the highest death rate recorded in the country in 63 years, the Commission on Population and Development (Popcom) reported on Tuesday.
Popcom, citing the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), said in its report that the country’s death rate in the first 11 months of 2021 is 6.98 per 1,000 Filipinos, a 25% increase – even with another month and a half worth of data yet to be included – up from 5.8 per thousand in 2020.
The total number of deaths recorded during this period last year was 768,504, which is 154,562 higher than all of 2020, according to the commission.
“This latest version already shows a 25% increase in mortality, with another month and a half of data to consider for 2021. This also set a record for the number of Filipinos who died in a year since post-World War 2,” Popcom executive director Juan Perez III said in a statement.
Perez also estimated that once the full year is recorded, the number of deaths in 2021 would point to the highest annual death statistic in the nation’s recorded medical history.
“In 2019 and 2020, the death rate was about the same at 5.8 per 1,000 Filipinos. By the end of 2021, I think it hit 7.5 or 8 per 1,000 – not the highest death rate ever recorded in the country, but certainly the highest number of Filipinos who died in a single year” , added Perez.
“We are expecting more figures from November and December last year. We can assume that there were around 800,000 or more deaths at the time,” he added.
The executive director also noted that the last time the country experienced the same level of death rate was in 1958-1959, when it reached between 7.3 and 8.4, but at that time only 218 816 Filipinos had been recorded as dead.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death; COVID-19 second
Popcom also said that ischemic heart disease is the leading cause of death in the country, while COVID-19 – both “identified” or “unidentified” – is the second leading cause of death in the country.
There were 110,332 deaths from ischemic heart disease in most regions in 2021, compared to 86,164 in 2020.
COVID-19, on the other hand, is the second leading cause of death for 75,285 Filipinos according to available data last year, more than the 30,140 deaths from March to December 2020.
“Thus, the above statistics elevated COVID-19 as the second deadliest killer of Filipinos in 2021,” Perez added.
According to the latest data available, the PSA reported 51,514 deaths from “identified” COVID-19 and 23,771 and “unidentified” COVID-19, for a total of 75,285.
Perez said there are two classifications of COVID-19 affecting the country: “identified,” or those that can be confirmed by RT-PCR testing, and “unidentified,” with lab tests or clinical findings from a doctor indicating symptoms of the new coronavirus, but without a confirmatory test until the moment of death.
The classification is considered valid and accepted methods by the World Health Organization for reporting the disease, according to Popcom.
From zero deaths in March 2020, Perez said COVID-19 has become the fifth leading cause of death in 2020.
“The growing number of deaths indicates a health system severely strained by the pandemic and its consequences,” Perez stressed.
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