According to provisional results, at least 82,246 people died in Germany in April 2020. The Federal Statistical Office (Destatis) also reports that this was 8% (+5,942 cases) more than the average across the previous four years. The last time that more than 80,000 deaths in Germany were recorded in April was in 1977.
In Week 18 (27 April to 3 May 2020), that is the week for which the most recent mortality figures are available, at least 17,312 people died in Germany. Mortality figures were thus down by 799 cases from the previous week (20 to 26 April); they were roughly 2% above the average across 2016 to 2019. When that week is compared with the same week of each individual year, it turns out that the number of deaths was within a range of 3% above the figure recorded for 2018 and 1% above the figure for 2017. Increased mortality figures have been observed since Week 13 (23 to 29 March). The deviation was largest in Week 15 (6 to 12 April) with 2,316 or 13% more deaths compared with the four-year average.
The total number of deaths from Week 13 to Week 18 was by 7,486 cases higher than the average across the previous four years. In regional terms, this development is mainly due to three Länder. Mortality figures in Bayern were by 2,719 deaths (+18%) above the average of the previous four years, in Baden-Württemberg by 1,958 (+16%) and in Nordrhein-Westfalen by 1,254 (+5%).
Connection with corona pandemic seems likely
These findings about excess mortality, as it is called, correspond with the data on confirmed COVID-19 deaths reported to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) when the absolute figures are considered. According to RKI information, a total 7,083 people with laboratory confirmed COVID-19 disease died in Weeks 13 to 18. The development over time was roughly parallel, too. Both the deviation of totals from the average and the number of COVID-19 deaths were highest in Week 15. However, this does not mean that all additional deaths counted in death statistics were people who died from COVID-19. Decreases or increases in other causes of death may also have an effect on the total number of deaths. This year’s influenza epidemic, which is a possible influencing factor, is deemed to be over since mid-March. Usually, waves of influenza have an impact on mortality figures until mid-April.
Excess mortality comparatively low in Germany
Excess mortality in Germany is low compared with other European countries. The statistical institute of France, for instance, reports that mortality was up 27% in the period from 1 March to 20 April on a year earlier. The national statistical institute of Italy (Istat) reports that there were even 49% more deaths in March 2020 than in the years 2015 to 2019, on average. The national statistical institutes of Belgium, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Austria, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland and Spain also record higher mortality figures. In many countries, the peak has been passed, and the extent of excess mortality is decreasing, as in Germany. No unusual changes on the preceding years have been observed in Norway and in the Czech Republic.
The figures provided by these countries are based on national methods and individual time periods. Some data refer to the reporting date, not the actual death date. The proportions of missing data reports differ, too, and depend strongly on how recent the missing data are.