According to an investigation published by the El Pais newspaper on Sunday, the number of COVID-19 deaths in Spain could be almost 60% above the official number of 28,432.
The official number of deaths in the country only includes people who have been officially diagnosed with the novel coronavirus, not suspected cases that have never been tested.
The lack of widespread testing, especially in the early stages of the outbreak, means that the official count could underestimate the number of viruses, as in many other countries.
By counting regional statistics on all suspected and confirmed deaths from the virus, El Pais had a total of 44,868 deaths. If this were true, the outbreak of Spain would be the second deadliest in Europe after Britain.
The Ministry of Health said it had followed all international protocols to account for COVID 19 deaths and stressed that the higher death rate is reflected in other official indicators.
"There is evidence that indirect deaths are increasing in all pandemics," he added. "This also happened with the COVID-19 pandemic."
El Pais is roughly the same as the National Epidemiology Center and the National Statistics Center (INE) – both government institutions – that register excessive mortality by comparing deaths across the country to historical averages.
In June, the INE reported 43,945 more deaths in the first 21 weeks of 2020 than in the same period in 2019, but could not say how many were due to the pandemic.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and published from a syndicated feed.)