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EU records 450,000 excess deaths between March and November

Aditya Sharma
February 17, 2021

The Eurostat agency recorded an increase in excess mortality in 2020 compared to the same period in 2016 to 2019. The deaths reached new peaks in November, with eastern Europe particularly hard-hit.

Bild des Jahres 2020 I COVID-19 I Beerdigung in Thessaloniki
The excess mortality data of Eurostat draws attention to the magnitude of the coronavirus crisis.Image: Alexandros Avramidis/REUTERS

Countries in the European Union recorded over 450,000 excess deaths between March and November 2020, compared to the same period in the past four years, according to data released on Tuesday.

The data "gives a general measure of the mortality impact of the COVID-19 pandemic because it includes all deaths independently of their causes" statistics agency Eurostat said.

"The data covered in this analysis include all deaths that have occurred from January to November 2020," it said.

First wave

Eurostat used monthly data from all EU countries, except Ireland which didn't provide data, to compare excess mortality in 2020 to a baseline of the average number of deaths recorded in the same period between 2016 to 2019.

"During the early rise of COVID-19, the excess mortality in the EU reached its first peak in April 2020, with an increase of 25% compared with the average of the same month over 2016 – 2019," the agency said.

In April, when the first wave of the pandemic was at its peak, Spain saw close to 80% increase in the average deaths whereas Belgium saw deaths sitting at almost 74% above the average.

November peak

"Between May and July, a lower level of excess mortality was registered, while yet another surge in mortality started in August – September with the next wave of the pandemic," Eurostat said.

"The excess mortality in the EU was 8% above the average in September, +17% in October and +40% in November, with the indicator rising in all EU Member States."

The November peak was particularly deadly for Poland, Slovenia, and Bulgaria, with each of them recording an increase of 90 percent.

Belgium also saw a nearly 60% increase, while both Italy and Austria neared a 50% increase.

Eurostat, however, stressed that while the substantial increase coincided with the pandemic, "the indicator does not discriminate among the causes of death and does not catch differences across sex and age classes."


DPA contributed to this report.