Excess Mortality during the COVID-19 Pandemic in Cities of Chile: Magnitude, Inequalities, and Urban Determinants


Author Tania Alfaro, Kevin Martinez-Folgar, Alejandra Vives & Usama Bilal
Line(s)Dinámicas Socioespaciales
Year of Publication2022
Journal TitleJournal of Urban Health
COVID-19, Mortality, Chile, Urban health
AbstractWe estimated excess mortality in Chilean cities during the COVID-19 pandemic and its association with city-level factors. We used mortality, and social and built environment data from the SALURBAL study for 21 Chilean cities, composed of 81 municipalities or “comunas”, grouped in 4 macroregions. We estimated excess mortality by comparing deaths from January 2020 up to June 2021 vs 2016–2019, using a generalized additive model. We estimated a total of 21,699 (95%CI 21,693 to 21,704) excess deaths across the 21 cities. Overall relative excess mortality was highest in the Metropolitan (Santiago) and the North regions (28.9% and 22.2%, respectively), followed by the South and Center regions (17.6% and 14.1%). At the city-level, the highest relative excess mortality was found in the Northern cities of Calama and Iquique (around 40%). Cities with higher residential overcrowding had higher excess mortality. In Santiago, capital of Chile, municipalities with higher educational attainment had lower relative excess mortality. These results provide insight into the heterogeneous impact of COVID-19 in Chile, which has served as a magnifier of preexisting urban health inequalities, exhibiting different impacts between and within cities. Delving into these findings could help prioritize strategies addressed to prevent deaths in more vulnerable communities.
Corresponding Author
Alejandra Vives alejandra.vives@uc.cl