Death from Corona WHO Germany high excess mortality

Dhe latest World Health Organization (WHO) survey of excess mortality in the first two years of the pandemic has sparked a discussion about corona policy and communication statistics in Germany. For Germany, the WHO reported an excess mortality of 96 to 137 cases per 100,000 inhabitants – an average of 116 deaths – after processing national data with its own calculation model. This would place excess mortality in Germany in the top third of rich countries, behind Italy and the United States. But it would be significantly higher than in Spain, Great Britain, the Netherlands, France, Belgium and Sweden.

Joachim Muller-Jung

Serial editor, head of the “Nature and Sciences” department.

The excess mortality due to the pandemic indicates – in contrast to the pure Covid 19 report data from the health authorities – how many more people died in a period than in the “normal” years before the pandemic. In addition to direct Covid 19 deaths, this also includes those who died indirectly, for example due to deficiencies in the healthcare system. Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) is under pressure, especially with reference to the much lower excess mortality in Sweden – the figure is 56 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants – where significantly less restrictive protective measures are applied. Lauterbach, although he has only been a minister since December, had previously underlined the supposed success of the Corona measures. In fact, Sweden, which has by no means weathered the pandemic without contact restrictions, is doing worse than neighboring countries Denmark, Finland and Norway, which are the most epidemiologically comparable.

In Germany, October 2020 in particular had worsened the death statistics, while the numbers had increased exponentially for weeks and measures had not been taken until much later than in other European countries during the wave. of autumn. However, what is particularly critical in the WHO tally is the tally for the year 2021, when coronavirus vaccines had long been available to the general population. The WHO task force determined an average excess mortality of 153 in the second year of the pandemic, which would mean that during this period – especially in the last quarter of 2021 – a good forty percent of the excess mortality caused by the Covid-19 would not have been officially reported.

The WHO does not explain how this discrepancy occurs, which is unusual compared to other countries. There was no official statement on Tuesday afternoon from the Federal Ministry of Health or the Federal Statistical Office responsible for calculating excess mortality. Experts speculate that a large proportion of Covid 19 deaths caused by immunization gaps in eastern federal states have not been recorded and reported as such.

The Federal Statistical Office had recently pointed the finger several times at the excess mortality due to Covid-19. Between March 2020 and February 2021, around 71,000 more people died in the country than before Corona. And at the end of 2021, excess mortality in the country was “significantly” influenced by the pandemic, according to the authority. The sometimes extreme discrepancies between the federal states have been explained by scientists from the Ernst Abbe University in Erfurt with very different vaccination rates. The more people are vaccinated and the more often, the lower the excess mortality. In March and April 2022, the Federal Office also reported mortality rates five and six percent higher than the average for previous years, despite the absence of an influenza epidemic. The WHO excess mortality data had been criticized by India and statistical experts from some countries, some of which represented significantly more than the 15 million deaths worldwide determined by the WHO.

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