Back 580 000 excess deaths between March and December 2020


© Andrii Yalanskyi /

In spring 2020, the number of deaths in the EU started to rise rapidly due to COVID-19: in some parts of Europe, deaths were exceptionally high compared with the average mortality of previous years. From here came the idea of assessing the impact of the pandemic by looking at the excess mortality, i.e. the increase in the total number of deaths, from any cause, compared with deaths in previous years.

In total, 580 000 more deaths occurred in the EU between March and December 2020 compared with the same period in 2016 – 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.


Excess mortality up to January 2021

Source data: demo_mexrt


Between May and July, a lower level of excess mortality was registered, while yet another surge in mortality started in August – September with the second wave of the pandemic. The excess mortality in the EU was 8% above the average in August and September, +18% in October, reaching its peak at +41% in November, followed by +30% in December. 

Although excess mortality was observed during most of the year across Europe, the peaks and intensity of outbreaks varied greatly across countries. For further analysis, including first data for January 2021, you can read the Statistics Explained article on excess mortality and use the new interactive tool by selecting the country you would like to analyse:



Please note that while a substantial increase in excess mortality largely coincides with the COVID-19 outbreak, this indicator does not discriminate among the causes of death and does not catch differences across sex and age classes.


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