University of Duisburg-Essen: 2020 had lower mortality than expected

In the year 2020, fewer people died than expected. This is according to a recent study. Although 34,000 people died last year due to the coronavirus pandemic, there was no excess mortality in Germany, according to the study.

A total of 985,620 people died in 2020, according to the Federal Statistical Office. Between 2016 and 2019, an average of 934,394 people died – in other words, 51,226 more people died in a pandemic year than in previous years. Researchers from the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Duisburg-Essen, however, came to a different conclusion about mortality when taking demographic factors into account. As Bernd Kowall of the Institute for Medical Informatics, Biometrics and Epidemiology at Essen University Hospital explains: “It is not enough to rely solely on the number of net deaths.”

Researchers: underestimation of mortality occurred in 2020 

In their study, the researchers also referred to the increasing life expectancy and the growing number of elderly people. Kowall explains that about one million more people over the age of 80 were alive in 2020 than in 2016. “In that situation, of course, you should expect higher mortality rates just because of that, even if there were no pandemic. And of course that has to be taken into account.” – continued the study’s lead author. The researchers therefore noted that there was even a slight underestimation of mortality by 2.4 percent in Germany in the year of the pandemic.

The study took into account every cause of death – whether it was prostate disease, heart attacks or accidents. According to the study, there are a number of reasons for the apparent drop in mortality: first, almost no one died from the disease in the past two winters. Second, traffic fatalities dropped significantly during lockdown.

Many of those who died from coronavirus – the median age at death here was more than 80 – had already suffered from previous illnesses. The researchers point out that older people with pre-existing health conditions tend to have a significantly “shortened life expectancy” even without coronavirus infection. Covid 19 sufferers, who according to medical projections would not survive even without Corona 2020, do not contribute to excess mortality, they say.


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