Official data on the numbers of deaths among care home residents linked to COVID-19 is not available in many countries but an increasing number of countries are publishing data.
International comparisons are difficult due to differences in testing availabilities and policies, different approaches to recording deaths, and differing definitions of what constitutes a “care home”.
There are three main approaches to quantifying deaths in relation to COVID-19: deaths of people who test positive (before or after their death), deaths of people suspected to have COVID-19 (based on symptoms or epidemiologically linked), and excess deaths (comparing the total number of deaths with those in the same weeks in previous years).
Another important distinction is whether the data covers deaths of care home residents or only deaths in the care home (as there are variations in the share of care home residents who are admitted to hospital and may die there).
This updated report contains data from a larger number of countries and this shows that earlier suggestions (when data were available for fewer countries) that the share of all COVID-19 deaths who were care- residents increases with the total number of deaths may not be a robust finding, as New Zealand and Slovenia, despite having had relatively small numbers of total COVID deaths, have had a large share of those deaths among care home residents (72 and 81% respectively).
Comas-Herrera A, Zalakaín J, Litwin C, Hsu AT, Lemmon E, Henderson D and Fernandez-Plotka J-L (2020) Mortality associated with COVID-19 outbreaks in care homes: early international evidence. LTCcovid.org, International Long-Term Care Policy Network, CPEC-LSE, 26 June 2020.
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Assistant Professor, London School of Economics, Co-lead STRiDE-Dementia, United Kingdom
Adelina Comas-Herrera is co-lead of the Strengthening Responses to Dementia in Developing Countries (STRiDE) project, a multi-national research project funded by the Research Councils UK’s Global Challenges Research Fund involving Brazil, India, Indonesia, Jamaica, Kenya, Mexico, and South Africa. The project aims to build capacity to generate research to support the development of policy responses to dementia. She is the curator of LTCcovid.org, a website that has played a key role in generating and sharing evidence on the impacts of COVID-19 on people who use and provide Long-Term Care and measures adopted to mitigate these impacts.