Discovery reveals shock death stats in South Africa

The value of death claims almost tripled and suicides rose 18% last year as South Africa was battered by coronavirus infections, Discovery Life Ltd. said, citing data from its clients.

In early 2021, South Africa grappled with the later stages of a beta variant-driven wave of Covid-19 infections. It was hit by the delta variant in mid-year and omicron toward the end of the year.

“It was completely unprecedented,” Discovery Life’s Deputy Chief Executive Officer Gareth Friedlander said in an interview on Thursday. “Add all causes of death together – that’s your cancers, motor-vehicle accidents, heart attacks, strokes – add them all together and it’s still 50% less than the Covid-death claims.”

The data from the Johannesburg-based life insurer, which has more than 600,000 clients, is another indication of how hard South Africa has been hit by the pandemic. While official deaths from Covid nationally are just over 100,000, excess-death data, which measures mortality against historical statistics, shows more than 300,000 people – or one in 500 South Africans – died from the disease.

During 2021, Discovery Life paid out R9.1 billion ($587 million) on more than 10,000 life claims, of which R6.46 billion was paid in coronavirus-related claims. In total 6.31 million people have officially died from Covid-19 across the world, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.

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