According to a new calculation by scientists at the Essen University Hospital, there was an under-mortality and no excess mortality in Germany in 2020 despite the Covid-19 pandemic.
Essen (Germany). According to a calculation of the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis) there was an excess mortality rate of just under five percent in Germany in 2020. The statisticians determined this on the basis of the number of deaths in 2020 (982,489), which was above the mean of the previous four years (934,389). In Germany, there was an excess mortality of 48,100 people.
A team led by Bernd Kowall from the Institute for Medical Informatics, Biometry and Epidemiology (IMIBE) at the University Hospital Essen now contradicts this calculation method. “It is not enough, however, to rely on net deaths alone,” said Kowall. Instead, according to the scientist, aspects such as demographic change must also be taken into account when calculating over- and under-mortality. This is particularly relevant due to the increased life expectancy and the high number of older people in Germany.
Higher mortality due to demographic change
“In 2020 there were 5.8 million over 80-year-olds, one million more than in 2016. And then of course they expect a higher mortality due to this alone, even if there had been no pandemic. And of course you have to factor that in, ”Kowall told Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk (mdr).
That too ifo institute has published a study that looks at a connection between demographic change and the supposed excess mortality. “Since the number and proportion of people in the older age groups is increasing due to demographic change, for this reason alone, due to the advancing aging, an increase in the number of deaths compared to the reference period should be ascertained”, explains Joachim Ragnitz. According to Ragnitz, the probability of death should therefore use the different age groups and not the absolute number of deaths as the basis for calculation.
No excess mortality in Germany
The scientists around Kowall have therefore calculated again on the basis of their method whether there was over- or under-mortality in Germany during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020. According to their publication in the specialist magazine PLOS ONE there was no excess mortality throughout 2020. The study by the scientists from the University Hospital Essen thus confirms the results of the study by the Ifo Institute and even comes to the conclusion that despite 34,000 people who died of Covid-19, there was a minimal under-mortality rate of 2.4 percent.
Fewer traffic fatalities in lockdown
According to the study, various reasons are responsible for this decline. For example, hardly any people died of the seasonal flu, which was almost completely absent due to the pandemic measures. There were also indirect effects such as a significant decrease in road deaths during the initial lockdown.
The scientists also explain that many people with previous illnesses would have died promptly without Covid-10. This is also reflected in the median age of those who died on or with Covid-19, which in 2020 was over 80 years in Germany.
“Statistically speaking, people with health problems at an advanced age have a significantly reduced life expectancy even without SARS-CoV-2 infection”, according to the authors. According to the scientists, people who died with a Covid 19 infection despite such a prognosis have no share in the excess mortality.
PLOS ONE, doi: doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0255540