October 20, 2020

this is how the lethality of the worst pandemic of the 21st century has evolved

One million deaths from coronavirus worldwide

Weekly evolution of deaths per million inhabitants accumulated around the world since the start of the pandemic

Source: Johns Hopkins University

On January 11, 2020, the news came that a 61-year-old man, a regular customer of the market in the Wuhan region, in China, had died as a result of a new type of coronavirus. Less than a year later the SARSCoVtwo, and the disease it causes have gone from being unknown to monopolizing the attention of the entire planet. Nine months and seventeen days later, the COVID-19 it has been the cause of at least one million deaths worldwide. Although the worst daily figures were reached in April, the average number of new cases in the world is not yet falling.

The following shows how the evolution of deaths with coronavirus has been around the world since the beginning of the pandemic. Each bar represents the new deaths reported daily by the health authorities of each country; the black line shows the weekly average, so it is more suitable for checking the trend.

Deaths from COVID-19, day by day

Evolution of the number of daily new kills and of the average of the last 7 days around the world since the start of the pandemic

Source: Johns Hopkins University

After the virus caused its first fatalities in China, the epicenter of the – still – epidemic reached the Italian region of Lombardy. Soon after, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic.

Once in Europe, SARS-CoV-2 spread rapidly, causing the highest mortality spike to date. Only during the week of April 6 to 12, nearly 30,000 people died from the virus in the old continent, the highest figure in a single week recorded so far.

In Spain, the first deceased with coronavirus was a 69-year-old patient suffering from severe pneumonia, who died in Valencia on February 13. Along with Italy and Belgium, Spain was the European country hardest hit by the virus, each registering in the first wave – until mid-May – more than 500 deaths per million inhabitants.

Just two weeks later, North America recorded its peak mortality. On April 21, the region registered its worst figure, mainly influenced by the deaths in the United States, the country that accumulates the most deaths from coronavirus to date.

Meanwhile, the death curve in Latin America and the Caribbean countries advanced more slowly, but in mid-May it exceeded those of the neighboring continent, reaching serious mortality figures. It is currently the region of the world that registers the most weekly deaths from coronavirus.

A million dead (at least)

How to prepare for a global pandemic that nobody expected? Throughout this year, governments and health authorities around the world have been forced to manage and control the coronavirus crisis by force. The lack of homogeneous criteria when recording and reporting deaths, or the methodological changes in these processes, make it impossible to know exactly the deaths attributed to the virus

The million deaths figure reflects only those officially registered, but could have been many more, since especially during the harshest months of the pandemic, at a time of collapse of hospitals, funeral homes and civil registries, there was no capacity to detect all the people who died from the virus.

The above must be taken into account if comparisons are to be made between the fatality levels of different countries. Here we explain why the death toll associated with the coronavirus is higher in Italy and Spain than in South Korea. In France, for example, in the worst moments of the first wave (late March), the president of the French Hospital Federation acknowledged that the death toll with COVID-19 in the Gallic country was higher than the official count, already that only those who died in hospitals were counted, and did not include those who died at home or in nursing homes. Andrés Gil reports.

In the specific case of Spain, the coronavirus epidemic has left the worst mortality crisis in Spain since official records exist: 43,000 deaths above the historical average in the first wave and 2,000 in the month of September. This is the highest number of deaths recorded in 45 years of democratic history. Although not all of them can be attributed to COVID-19, it is an excess indicative of the consequences of the pandemic.

Source: Johns Hopkins

A more deadly virus among the elderly population

The new coronavirus has hit one of the most vulnerable segments of the population with special force: the elderly. The highest mortality rates have been registered among the oldest people, therefore, countries with an older population pyramid, as is the case of Spain, have registered higher mortality among their elderly. Already in March, at the beginning of the pandemic, Europe’s nursing homes suffered the first wave of deaths.

Although it must be taken into account that the differences in mortality by age groups in each country are explained, among other factors, by the number of tests carried out, the phase of the epidemic, the characteristics of the population, or the protocol of accounting for each government, the pattern is common.

The elderly, the most vulnerable to the virus

Fatality (deaths over cases), percentage of total deaths and percentages of confirmed COVID-19 cases in each age group in some of the most affected countries

Made with Flourish

Source: Data published by each Government. * Data for Spain only include those who died up to May, due to lack of updating by age group

In the following search engine you can consult the mortality data by country. The number of accumulated deaths since the beginning of the pandemic is shown, as well as the number of deaths adjusted to the population of each country. Another indicator that allows us to know how the virus has impacted is lethality, the proportion of deaths over confirmed cases. The table is navigable: use the search engine or click on the headers to sort the information.


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