From: Alice Taylor
WHO Estimates 13,000 COVID Deaths in Albania

The World Health Organisation estimates that almost 13,000 people died in 2020 and 2021 in Albania as a direct or indirect result of COVID-19, a far cry from the 3,217 reported by the Ministry of Health.

Exit has previously sounded the alarm over the significant increase in excess deaths in Albania during the first two years of the pandemic. Figures from INSTAT showed an increase in excess deaths of around 16,000 people over the two years while the government only attributed 3,217 to COVID during the same period.

WHO figures estimate that 12,689 people died in the country between 2020 and 2021, as a result of COVID, a figure that is almost four times higher than the official death statistics. Excess deaths are calculated as the difference between the number of deaths that have occurred and the number that was expected to occur in the absence of a pandemic, based on data from previous years.

Globally, there were some 15 million deaths more than would have been expected and less than a quarter were reported as COVID.

But Albania is not the worst performing in terms of discrepancies as in Egypt, the WHO figures were 12 times higher than the official death count.

“These sobering data not only point to the impact of the pandemic but also to the need for all countries to invest in more resilient health systems that can sustain essential health services during crises, including stronger health information systems,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “WHO is committed to working with all countries to strengthen their health information systems to generate better data for better decisions and better outcomes.”

In January 2021, Exit reported that figures from INSTAT show an increase of deaths equivalent to 25.8% during 2020 when compared to 2019.  For that year, the government reported 1315 deaths from COVID-19 while there were around 6000 excess deaths.

As for 2021, the government reported 2,031 deaths from COVID while INSTAT showed some 10,000 excess deaths.

This brings the total to at least 16,000 excess deaths, more than WHO estimates.

The Albanian government has been criticised for its low testing abilities and failure to diagnose those with COVID-19 adequately. Furthermore, many citizens refused to go to hospitals out of fear and opted to be treated at home instead. It is also unknown how they classify COVID-19 deaths.

At the end of 2021, the International Monetary Fund reported that Albania had the highest excess mortality rate in Europe.