Átlátszó has received unprecedented details from the National Public Health Center (NNK) on the number of people who have died from coronavirus infection. The data shows the number of people who died as a result of coronavirus infection by municipality each day up to the end of January 2022.
The data reveals that by far the highest number of deaths occurred in Miskolc (475), followed by Debrecen (414), and Szeged (399).
Among the districts of the capital, III, XI, XIII, and XVIII stand out, with the number of deaths from the coronavirus exceeding 300 in all three districts during the period concerned. At the bottom of the list in Budapest is District V, where 35 people have lost their lives during this year of the epidemic. But nationally, there are hundreds of typically small villages where only one person died, according to the NNK.
At the end of February, Átlátszó submitted a public interest data request to the National Center for Public Health (NNK) led by Cecília Müller, asking for time-lapsed, municipality-level data on daily deaths and daily recoveries (non-cumulative) of coronavirus-related deaths and deaths in the last 12 months.
Finally, they obtained municipality-level data on those registered as infected with the coronavirus at the time of death between February 1, 2021, and January 32, 2022.
FactAs it turns out, the statistics on the cause of death (which is derived from the processing of death certificates) are not held by them, but by the Central Statistical Office (KSH). The data are based on the database available to the NNK. However, the reply to the request for public interest data also shows that they do not have daily data on recovered persons.
It is not so obvious who counts as a person who died due to Covid-19 in the statistics and this is not only true for Hungary. As Átlátszó reports, the number of deaths attributable to the coronavirus is influenced by the protocol used in the country, which determines who exactly is considered to have died from COVID. There is no uniform method for recording deaths: most countries follow the WHO recommendation to include deaths likely to be caused by COVID-19 in addition to clinically confirmed cases. In this case, for example, deaths at home may also be included in the registry, but not all cases have been tested. However, many countries consider a positive test as the relevant test.
It also makes a difference whether someone dies from coronavirus or a coronavirus infection. Some countries count all deaths recorded as infected in their mortality statistics. In other countries, registration is more rigorous, and only deaths where the fact of infection can be justified as the cause of death are included.
In Hungary, the former situation is the case: the Hungarian protocol includes all deaths from coronavirus in the deaths of those who had tested positive for coronavirus during or before the period of illness. Thus, people who died as a result of some other pre-existing condition but were infected at some time are also included as COVID deceased.
Compared with the regular data released by koronavirus.gov.hu (which includes the number of newly registered infected, cured, deceased, and vaccinated), there are differences in the mortality data of the table sent by the NNK, according to Átlátszó.
According to data sent by the NNK, 27,251 people died of coronavirus between February 2021 and the end of January 2022, while the official epidemiological information site reported 28,881 deaths in the same period. This means that 1,630 deaths are not included in the municipal-level records now available.
It is also important to note that, according to Átlátszó, the NNK has a detailed database of deceased persons, which not only includes the age, sex, illness, address, etc. of the deceased but also their medical history of vaccination against the coronavirus.
Whether the data from koronavirus.gov.hu or the NNK is accurate is not yet known.
Featured image: illustration via Károly Árvai/MTI/kormany.hu