The role of data collection systems on COVID-19 deaths age structure: An illustration from Latin American countries

Jenny Garcia, Institut National d'Études Démographiques (INED)
Andres Castro, University of Pennsylvania
Catalina Torres, Muséum National D'histoire Naturelle
Stéphane Helleringer, Columbia University

The lack of timely monitoring systems of the COVID-19 lethality has been an unrelenting need in Latin America since May 2020, when the region became the pandemic’s epicenter. To alleviate the pitfalls of their national vital statistics systems, particularly those related to the timely production of COVID-19 reports, Latin American countries have used different collection systems for counting COVID-19 deaths, primarily based on hospital records and surveillance systems. Little attention has been paid to the potential age bias of death counts across these reports. We examine the age distribution of COVID-19 death rates using health systems’ counts and vital statistics from the year 2020 from Chile, Mexico, Ecuador, and Brazil. Next, we compare the age distribution of COVID-19 deaths to all-cause and the excess mortality in these countries. Our results indicate that incompleteness of official reports likely concentrates at older ages regardless of the data collection system. Age-reporting bias is highly related with usual mortality age patterns by place of death in each country.

Keywords: Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (CRVS), COVID-19, Cross-country comparative analyses, Mortality

See extended abstract.

  Presented in Session 186. Demographic Analysis of the Covid-19 Pandemic