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Pandemic excess mortality in Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 was at its highest since 1918


Staub, Kaspar; Panczak, Radoslaw; Matthes, Katarina L; Floris, Joel; Berlin, Claudia; Junker, Christoph; Weitkunat, Rolf; Mamelund, Svenn-Erik; Egger, Matthias; Zwahlen, Marcel; Riou, Julien (2021). Pandemic excess mortality in Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 was at its highest since 1918. medRxiv 21261825v1, University of Zurich.

Abstract

Estimating excess mortality allows quantification of overall pandemic impact. For recent decades, mortality data are easily accessible for most industrialized countries, but only a few countries have continuous data available for longer periods. Since Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland were militarily neutral and not involved in combat during both world wars, these countries have monthly all-cause mortality statistics available for over 100 years with no interruptions. We show that during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland recorded the highest aggregated monthly excess mortality (17%, 9% and 14%) since the 1918 influenza pandemic (53%, 33% and 49%), when compared to respective expected values. For Sweden and Switzerland, the highest monthly spikes in 2020 almost reached those of January 1890. These findings emphasize the historical dimensions of the ongoing pandemic and support the notion of a pandemic disaster memory gap.

Abstract

Estimating excess mortality allows quantification of overall pandemic impact. For recent decades, mortality data are easily accessible for most industrialized countries, but only a few countries have continuous data available for longer periods. Since Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland were militarily neutral and not involved in combat during both world wars, these countries have monthly all-cause mortality statistics available for over 100 years with no interruptions. We show that during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland recorded the highest aggregated monthly excess mortality (17%, 9% and 14%) since the 1918 influenza pandemic (53%, 33% and 49%), when compared to respective expected values. For Sweden and Switzerland, the highest monthly spikes in 2020 almost reached those of January 1890. These findings emphasize the historical dimensions of the ongoing pandemic and support the notion of a pandemic disaster memory gap.

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Item Type:Working Paper
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Institute of Evolutionary Medicine
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Uncontrolled Keywords:COVID-19
Language:English
Date:August 2021
Deposited On:20 Aug 2021 20:15
Last Modified:19 Oct 2021 07:28
Series Name:medRxiv
Additional Information:Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
OA Status:Green
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.08.12.21261825v1
Official URL:https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.08.12.21261825v1

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