European Weekly deaths: a slight increase in March/April 2021

Between March 2020 and mid-April 2021, in the European Union and EFTA countries for which data are available, there were around 750 000 more deaths, compared with the average number in 2016-2019.

After a decrease in January and February 2021, the number of deaths at the European level again increased slightly in March and April, with some countries (Czechia, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland and Estonia) well beyond the average level of previous years, while others (Portugal, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Cyprus) had no excess deaths.


The data presented above show deaths due to all causes. The international comparability of data directly associated with COVID-19 may be arguable due to different rules of causes of death classification, and coverage issues. In a pandemic, the specific mortality may be higher than what initially registered, for several reasons. In some countries, statistics may initially exclude victims who did not officially test positive for coronavirus. Delays in registration may also create lags and flaws in the data. Finally, a pandemic with lockdown measures can discourage people from going to a hospital or consult a doctor, making it harder to cure other diseases, which may indirectly lead to an increase in deaths from causes other than the pandemic itself. The death rate draws attention to the magnitude of the health crisis by providing a comprehensive comparison of additional deaths from all causes.

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