The number of people who have died because of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Netherlands might be almost twice as high as official figures suggest, according to data from the CBS Dutch statistics office – a reminder of the dangers of the coronavirus even as the country has largely moved away from COVID measures.
A report, published by the CBS on June 3, shows that the true number of lives lost to the pandemic by January 31, 2022, was close to 40,679. That far outstrips the 22,324 deaths that were reported by public health institute RIVM for the same period, the Dagblad van het Noorden says. The difference is down to significant undercounts in the health agency’s stats, owing to delayed and incomplete reporting.
To estimate COVID-19 deaths, the CBS used a measure called excess mortality, which is a commonly employed tool to overcome variation in the ways that various municipalities and healthcare institutions identify and record deaths from the virus. Statisticians estimate excess deaths by comparing the total deaths reported in a region, from all causes, with how many deaths would be expected given trends in recent years.
The Netherlands has lifted the majority of its domestic COVID-19 restrictions. The requirement to wear a face mask in public places, except in health-care settings, has also been dropped. The country has eased all coronavirus travel rules for EU travelers, meaning they can enter restriction-free, regardless of their vaccination status, but non-EU travelers still need to present proof of vaccination or recovery to gain entry into the country.