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Coronavirus: Germany sees increase in excess mortality

Elliot Douglas
May 22, 2020

Around 5% more deaths than on average were recorded in Germany during April, with experts saying coronavirus is to blame. However, several European countries have a far worse excess mortality rate.


Germany saw a slight increase in the average number of deaths in April, the Federal Statistics Office reported on Friday. April's death rate was around 5% more than the average number of deaths in April between 2016 and 2019.

As flu season is over, the statisticians place the blame on the coronavirus pandemic, which has left more than 8,200 people in Germany dead since February.

The statistics office compiles deaths per week. In Week 17, the final full week in April, 17,974 people died in Germany, an increase of 567 or 3% compared to the average of the three previous years.

Read more: COVID-19 death rate sinking? Data reveals a complex reality

Experts have been observing excess mortality rates since Week 13, beginning March 23. The largest deviation from previous years was in Week 15, beginning April 6, when 2,251 people died, 13% more than average.

Germany has less excess deaths than European neighbors

"Excess mortality in Germany is low compared to other European countries," the statisticians reported. "Italy reports 49% more deaths in March 2020 than in the years 2015 to 2019, on average [...] Sweden reports twice as many deaths in the agglomeration area of Stockholm for weeks 14 to 16 [mid-April] as, on average, the five years before."

Italywas one of the first countries in the world to enter full lockdown, while Sweden has been met with criticism for keeping schools, bars and restaurants open.

Read more: Coronavirus: When will the second wave of infections hit?

The German figures also show less excess mortality than Belgium, France, the UK, the Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland and Spain. Norway and the Czech Republic, which have both avoided high COVID-19 death rates, noted no particular increase in excess mortality.

Experts have suggested that observing excess mortality may be more useful for tracing the real effect of coronavirus than counting deaths directly caused by the virus, including deaths caused indirectly by lockdown restrictions.

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