Estimation of all-cause excess mortality by age-specific mortality patterns for countries with incomplete vital statistics: a population-based study of the case of Peru during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic

Lucas Sempé*, Peter Lloyd-Sherlock, Ramón Martínez, Shah Ebrahim, Martin McKee, Enrique Acosta

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Background: All-cause excess mortality is a comprehensive measure of the combined direct and indirect effects of COVID-19 on mortality. Estimates are usually derived from Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (CRVS) systems, but these do not include non-registered deaths, which may be affected by changes in vital registration coverage over time.

Methods: Our analytical framework and empirical strategy account for registered mortality and under-registration. This provides a better estimate of the actual mortality impact of the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in Peru. We use population and crude mortality rate projections from Peru's National Institute of Statistics and Information (INEI, in Spanish), individual-level registered COVID-19 deaths from the Ministry of Health (MoH), and individual-level registered deaths by region and age since 2017 from the National Electronic Deaths Register (SINADEF, in Spanish).

We develop a novel framework combining different estimates and using quasi-Poisson models to estimate total excess mortality across regions and age groups. Also, we use logistic mixed-effects models to estimate the coverage of the new SINADEF system.

Findings: We estimate that registered mortality underestimates national mortality by 37•1% (95% CI 23% - 48•5%) across 26 regions and nine age groups. We estimate total all-cause excess mortality during the period of analysis at 173,099 (95% CI 153,669 - 187,488) of which 108,943 (95% CI 96,507 - 118,261) were captured by the vital registration system. Deaths at age 60 and over accounted for 74•1% (95% CI 73•9% - 74•7%) of total excess deaths, and there were fewer deaths than expected in younger age groups. Lima region, on the Pacific coast and including the national capital, accounts for the highest share of excess deaths, 87,781 (95% CI 82,294 - 92,504), while in the opposite side regions of Apurimac and Huancavelica account for less than 300 excess deaths.

Interpretation: Estimating excess mortality in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) such as Peru must take under-registration of mortality into account. Combining demographic trends with data from administrative registries reduces uncertainty and measurement errors. In countries like Peru, this is likely to produce significantly higher estimates of excess mortality than studies that do not take these effects into account.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100039
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalThe Lancet Regional Health - Americas
Early online date20 Aug 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2021
Externally publishedYes

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