Excess Mortality in the Western World since the COVID-19 Pandemic

Amsterdam, NL…Excess mortality during the COVID-19 pandemic has been substantial. Insight into excess death rates in years following WHO’s pandemic declaration is crucial for government leaders and policymakers to evaluate their health crisis policies. This study explores excess mortality in the Western World from 2020 until 2022.

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Methods All-cause mortality reports were abstracted for countries using the ‘Our World in Data’ database. Excess mortality is assessed as a deviation between the reported number of deaths in a country during a certain week or month in 2020 until 2022 and the expected number of deaths in a country for that period under normal conditions. For the baseline of expected deaths, Karlinsky and Kobak’s estimate model was used. This model uses historical death data in a country from 2015 until 2019 and accounts for seasonal variation and year-to-year trends in mortality.

Results The total number of excess deaths in 47 countries of the Western World was 3 098 456 from 1 January 2020 until 31 December 2022. Excess mortality was documented in 41 countries (87%) in 2020, 42 countries (89%) in 2021 and 43 countries (91%) in 2022. In 2020, the year of the COVID-19 pandemic onset and implementation of containment measures, records present 1 033 122 excess deaths (P-score 11.4%). In 2021, the year in which both containment measures and COVID-19 vaccines were used to address virus spread and infection, the highest number of excess deaths was reported: 1 256 942 excess deaths (P-score 13.8%). In 2022, when most containment measures were lifted and COVID-19 vaccines were continued, preliminary data present 808 392 excess deaths (P-score 8.8%).

Conclusions Excess mortality has remained high in the Western World for three consecutive years, despite the implementation of containment measures and COVID-19 vaccines. This raises serious concerns. Government leaders and policymakers need to thoroughly investigate underlying causes of persistent excess mortality.