Population-level mortality burden from novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in Europe and North America

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Abstract

As of 31 January 2021, 63.9 million cases and 1.4 million deaths had been reported in Europe and North America, which accounted for 62.5% and 62.4% of the global total, respectively. Comparing the level of mortality across countries has proven difficult because of inherent limitations in the most commonly cited measures (e.g., case-fatality rates). We collected the cumulative number of confirmed deaths from COVID-19 by age in 2020 from the L’Institut National d’études Démographiques (INED) database and Statistics Canada for 15 European and North American countries. We calculated age-specific death rates and age-standardized death rates (ASDR) for each country over a 1-year period from 6 February 2020 (date of first COVID-19 death in Europe and North America) to 5 February 2021 using established demographic methods. We estimated that COVID-19 was the second leading cause of death behind cancer in England and Wales and France and the third leading cause of death behind cancer and heart disease in nine countries including the US. Countries with higher all-cause mortality prior to the COVID-19 experienced higher COVID-19 mortality than countries with lower all-cause mortality prior to the pandemic. The COVID-19 ASDR varied substantially within country (e.g., a 5-fold difference among the highest and lowest mortality states in Germany). Consistently strong public health measures may have lessened the level of mortality for some European and North American countries. In contrast, many of the largest countries and economies in these regions may continue to experience a high mortality level because of poor implementation and adherence to such measures.

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Soneji, S., Beltrán-Sánchez, H., Yang, J. W., & Mann, C. (2021). Population-level mortality burden from novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in Europe and North America. Genus, 77(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s41118-021-00115-9

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