Germany: Number of deaths 24 percent above average at end of 2020

Germany: Number of deaths 24 percent above average at end of 2020

Significantly more people died in Germany at the end of 2020 than in previous years. According to the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis), the number of deaths in the week before Christmas was 24 percent above the average. In Saxony, the numbers have even doubled. 

Number of deaths in Germany up 24 percent in 51st week of 2020

According to preliminary figures released by Destatis, at least 23.550 people died in the 51st calendar week of 2020 - December 14 to 20. That’s 4.568 more deaths than the 51st calendar week average for the years 2016 to 2019. The figures also show that the number of deaths in the week before that, December 7 to 13, was 25 percent above average. 

“The number of deaths of people who were previously laboratory-confirmed with COVID-19 has been increasing from week to week since the beginning of October,” the statisticians reported on Friday. In the 51st calendar week, there were a total of 4.484 coronavirus deaths, according to the Robert Koch Institute. 

Particularly high number of deaths in Saxony

Destatis also noted in their report that the development of the death rate is particularly noticeable in Saxony. In the 41st calendar week at the beginning of October, the number of deaths was still below-average. By the 51st calendar week, however, the number had more than doubled to 109 percent above average, or 1.226 “excess” deaths. 

Similar trends are observable in Brandenburg (+41 percent), Hesse (+32 percent) and Thuringia (+36 percent). In all of these federal states, the number of deaths at the end of 2020 was at least 30 percent above the average for the years 2016 to 2019. 

Other EU countries reporting excess mortality at end of 2020

The EuroMOMO Network for the observation of mortality developments is currently reporting an “extraordinarily high excess mortality” rate in Switzerland and Slovenia at the end of 2020. High excess mortality is also being reported for Italy, the Netherlands, Austria and Portugal. For other EU countries, EuroMOMO characterises the excess mortality rate for this 51st calendar week as “moderate”. 

Destatis notes in their report that, in addition to the direct and indirect consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, shifts in the age structure of the population can also contribute to above-average death rates. However, they note that measures to contain the pandemic almost inevitably ensured that fewer deaths were caused in 2020 by other infectious diseases such as the flu - which also affects the difference between the death rate in 2020 and previous years. 

To provide a more comprehensive report on excess mortality in 2020, Destatis needs to put last year’s deaths in relation to the population, to adequately account for the ageing process of the population. A final report will be published in mid-2021. 



Abi Carter

Managing Editor at IamExpat Media. Abi studied German and History at the University of Manchester and has since lived in Berlin, Hamburg and Utrecht, working since 2017 as a writer,...

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