Coronavirus: England suffers most excess deaths in Europe

Madrid recorded highest peak mortality of Europe's major cities

People wait in line at a testing centre near the Crown and Anchor pub following a spike in cases of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) to visitors of the pub in Stone, Britain, July 30, 2020. REUTERS/Carl Recine
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England suffered the most excess deaths in Europe during the coronavirus pandemic, the UK’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

Excess mortality is a measure of how many more people died during a certain period than would be expected under normal circumstances.

Spain had the highest peak excess mortality at a national level with some areas in northern Italy and central Spain hit with rates as much as 847 per cent more than the average.

Edward Morgan, an analyst at the ONS, said excess mortality was more geographically widespread in the UK but more localised in much of the rest of western Europe.

"Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the first half of 2020 saw extraordinary increases in mortality rates across countries in Western Europe above the 2015 to 2019 average,” he said.

Spain's capital, Madrid, had the highest peak excess mortality rate out of Europe's major cities at about 432 per cent higher than average for the week ending March 27. Birmingham had the highest peak rate of any British city at about 250 per cent above average for the week ending April 17.

Experts say excess mortality rates are a more effective way of assessing how badly a country has been hit by Covid-19.

“Due to the differing population sizes and age structure between the countries and regions of Europe, a simple side-by-side comparison of death counts is not a useful comparison,” Mr Morgan said.

The UK government's daily count of deaths by people who had tested positive for Covid-19, shows the country has suffered the deadliest outbreak in Europe.

That toll, a less comprehensive measure than excess mortality, currently stands at 45,961 deaths.

The ONS has already reported that Britain recorded 65,000 more deaths than usual during the first few months of the pandemic to the end of June.