Europe is getting worse and worse

The second wave was significantly more deadly than the first in most European countries

In the summer, many in Europe still hoped that a second wave could be prevented. Now twice as many people have died in the past four months as in the previous eight. Eastern Europe is particularly affected, as our data analysis shows.

Late summer 2020 in Europe. The number of cases is low, the restaurants are full again and some believe that the worst of the pandemic may already be over. There was hope that the infection numbers could be controlled. And that you can prevent widespread lockdowns in winter.

Germany's Health Minister Jens Spahn said in September: “With this knowledge, you would no longer close hairdressers and no retail stores. That won't happen again. " Three and a half months later, the number of infections was out of control, politicians were overwhelmed, hairdressers and retailers closed again.

The Swiss Minister of Health Alain Berset said in August: “The situation today no longer has much to do with what we experienced in February and March. We now know what it takes to protect ourselves and others. We have it in our hands. " And: "I would say we have the situation under control." A few months later, Switzerland was one of the countries with the highest number of infections per capita in the world.

We have the situation under control. We know the virus better now. We no longer need comprehensive lockdowns. Assessments from top politicians a few months ago. Always with the thought: It won't hit us that bad again. It got worse. Much worse. In Germany. In Switzerland. But also in all other European countries.

Europe was hit by the second wave. Two thirds of the approximately 800,000 people who have died of Corona across Europe since the pandemic began, died in the past four months.

Two thirds of all corona deaths in Europe have died since the beginning of November

How many of the European corona deaths died in which time periods, in percent

In Europe, more than half a million people have died of Corona since the beginning of November.

In Europe, more than half a million people have died of Covid-19 in the past four months

Cumulative number of corona deaths in Europe for different time periods

In every European country, the period from the beginning of November was the period with the highest number of deaths since the start of the pandemic. In the period up to the end of May 2020 or between June and October, significantly fewer people died of Covid-19 in each country.

Many European countries have seen the highest number of deaths since the beginning of November

Share of deaths in different periods of the pandemic of the total corona deaths in European countries *, in percent

The largest discrepancy is in Slovakia. 97 percent of all deaths from the coronavirus occurred in the past four months. It was only 3 percent by the end of October. Lithuania and Latvia were also almost completely spared from the pandemic until autumn. Both countries have suffered 95 percent of deaths from the coronavirus since the beginning of November. Only in Spain, Belgium and Belarus is the proportion of the total number of deceased in the past four months still below 50 percent.

There were clear differences in the summer months. In Belarus, Russia and Ukraine, a relatively large number of people died during this phase. In most EU countries, however, the number of infections was low - and thus also the number of deaths. That explains at least in part why the second wave could subsequently be underestimated.

While the graph above shows the temporal distribution of deaths within individual countries, there are significant differences between European countries in the number of deaths per capita. In Belgium and the Czech Republic, 15 times as many people per capita have died of corona as in Norway and Finland.

Clear differences in deaths

Corona deaths per 1 million population since the start of the pandemic in European countries

The combination of the percentage distribution of corona deaths over time and the absolute number of deaths shows how badly Central and Eastern Europe were actually affected by the second wave.

In Slovenia, the third most people have died in relation to the number of inhabitants in Europe since the pandemic began - over 90 percent of them in the past four months. In the Czech Republic, some have already declared the pandemic to be over. The Czech Republic is now the country with the highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases per capita worldwide. In the Czech Republic, the second most people per capita died from Corona, 83 percent of them in the past four months.

The pattern from the previous graphics is confirmed when looking at excess mortality in individual countries. In the Czech Republic, for example, there were no spikes in the number of weekly deaths compared to previous years until autumn. Then the pandemic situation worsened - and excess mortality was also observed. At the start of the new year, that seems to be continuing.

High excess mortality in the Czech Republic in late 2020 and early 2021

Number of deaths in the Czech Republic per calendar week in a year

In Spain, on the other hand, there was a clear excess mortality rate at the beginning of the pandemic. In autumn and winter 2020 there was again an excess mortality, which was not so pronounced, but dragged on over a longer period of time. At the beginning of 2021, more people died per week than the average in previous years.

Significant excess mortality in Spain at the start of the pandemic

Number of deaths in Spain per calendar week in a year
2015 - 2019 (average)

In Norway - the country with the fewest corona deaths per capita in Europe - there was no noticeable excess mortality throughout 2020. The number of weekly deaths was consistently in the range of the values ​​from previous years. To date, Norway has probably gotten best through the pandemic in Europe.

No abnormalities in Norway

Number of deaths in Norway per calendar week in a year