Spain's first wave mortality rate highest in EU

Between March and June the country registered 48,000 more deaths than the average for the last four years

As the coronavirus pandemic progresses, the impact it is having on society can be drawn more accurately, both from a demographic and an economic or social point of view. In the first case, in terms of population mortality, there were 170,000 excess deaths in the European Union last spring (during the first wave or peak) in comparison with the average number of deaths for the same period between 2016 and 2019. Spain is the country where the peak was highest, with an increase in deaths of 48,000.

These figures, published on Monday by the European statistics office Eurostat, raise the figure calculated in June by up to 140,000 people. At that time, however, Eurostat had only obtained data from 21 EU countries. Now it has obtained data from 26 EU Member States and the total figure is 170,000 deaths. These correspond to the period from March to June, week 10 to week 26 of the year. According to Eurostat, "the data includes all deaths without making any difference in their causes but it may be useful to assess the direct and indirect impact of the pandemic on the European population".

The highest peak was recorded in week 14 (between March and April), with an additional 36,000 deaths compared to the average for the same week in the previous four years, a figure that declined as the period progressed, when containment and prevention measures were taken to slow the spread of the virus.

Compared by country, Spain is where mortality rose the most, with 48,000 excess deaths compared to the average of the same period over previous years. It is followed by Italy with 46,000 and then France and the Netherlands with around 10,000. The remaining 21 Member States account for an additional 25,000 deaths between them. "Compared to the average from 2016 to 2019, Spain recorded more than double the number of deaths during weeks 13-15, followed by Belgium," says Eurostat. These are the two countries with the most victims of coronavirus per number of inhabitants and also two of the EU countries that are suffering the strongest second wave.

Belgium currently has a rate of more than 750 infections per 100,000 inhabitants, the highest in Europe and well above the 312 infections per 100,000 inhabitants in Spain, according to data updated daily by the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). The Netherlands and France also currently exceed the level of infections in Spain with ratios of over 500 and 400 infections per 100,000 inhabitants respectively. Hence Belgium and France have opted for strict measures to stop the spread of the virus in this second wave with curfews, for example.

On the other hand, Eurostat also shows in which European regions mortality grew most. The highest peaks were recorded in Bergamo and Segovia, with peaks of 895% and 634% respectively.

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