Scientists have tracked how the excess mortality rate has changed in 29 economically developed countries of the world. It turned out that this indicator changed the most in the USA, Italy, Great Britain and Spain. Their findings were published by the British Medical Journal.
“In 2020, deaths in all these countries were about a million more than the average in previous years. In many countries, this figure significantly exceeded <...> [the number of deaths] from COVID-19, which suggests that for To fully assess the consequences of the epidemic, we need to take into account excess mortality, “the researchers write.
Excess mortality is a statistical indicator that indicates how much the number of deaths in a given time period deviates compared to other similar periods of time. This figure attracted widespread attention last spring, when doctors noticed that it increased – probably in connection with the first outbreaks of coronavirus infection. Subsequently, scientists began to constantly monitor changes in excess mortality, trying to determine the factors that may affect it.
In a new study, demographers and medical professionals led by Ben Lacey of the University of Oxford are revisiting this indicator. They collected and analyzed data on excess mortality in 29 countries that are members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The authors of the work found out how the weekly excess mortality rate changed in these countries, and also determined this indicator for men and women and representatives of different age groups. As a result, scientists have identified the countries whose populations are most affected by the pandemic and its socio-economic consequences.
The overall level of excess mortality in all studied OECD countries was about 979 thousand people. About 80% of these losses occur in five countries – the United States, Italy, the United Kingdom, Spain and Poland. And in just three countries, the number of deaths did not exceed expected values - in Norway, New Zealand and Denmark.
Taking into account differences in population, the highest excess mortality rates were found in Lithuania, Poland, Spain, Hungary and Italy. He was lowest in Latvia, Israel, Finland and South Korea. The largest differences in the number of excess deaths among men and women were found in Poland, Lithuania, Hungary, Slovenia and the Czech Republic, while in Germany, Finland and Estonia these figures were almost the same.
Lacy and colleagues also found that in most of the countries studied, excess deaths were significantly higher than the official losses from COVID-19. For example, in the United States and Britain, they differed by more than 30%, and in Spain, Poland, Estonia and South Korea – by more than 50%. In several other countries, including Israel, Denmark, France and Switzerland, the number of deaths from COVID-19 was higher than the estimated excess mortality rate.
The researchers hope that the data they have collected will help experts from relevant health authorities in these countries prepare more detailed and accurate assessments of how the coronavirus pandemic has affected the lives and health of the population of these countries, as well as develop effective strategies to counter new outbreaks of COVID-19.