During March 2020, the number of deaths due to COVID-19 started to rise rapidly in some European countries: in some parts of Europe, deaths were exceptionally high, when compared to 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 the previous years.
In total, around 297 500 more deaths occurred in the EU between March and October 2020 compared with the same period in 2016 – 2019. With a peak during the early rise of COVID-19, the excess mortality in the EU was highest in April 2020, with an increase of 25% compared to the average of the same month over 2016 - 2019.
Source data: demo_mexrt
During May - July, a lower level of excess mortality was registered in the EU, and yet another surge in mortality started in August – September, with the next wave of the pandemic. The excess mortality in the EU reaching +8% in September and +17% in October above the average. The indicator rose further in November 2020 in all EU Member States with available data.
Although the excess mortality was observed during the entire year, across Europe, the peaks and intensity of outbreaks varied greatly across countries. For further analysis, 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 a COVID-19 outbreak, the indicator does not discriminate among the causes of death and does not catch differences across sex and age classes.
- The European Union (EU) includes 27 EU Member States. The United Kingdom left the European Union on 31 January 2020. Further information is published here.
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