The higher number of total mortality during the COVID-19 pandemic compared to the flu seasons of previous years and the threat of overburdening the health system in Germany are due to demographic changes and not to COVID-19. An analysis of mortality rates and hospital occupancies.
KARSTEN MONTAG, 24. Mai 2021, 0 Kommentare
Note: This article ist also available in German.
In its weekly report on May 21, 2021, the German equivalent of the CDC, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), reported a total of 83,602 COVID-19 victims in Germany. About 74,000 of them occurred during the 2020/21 flu season alone. These numbers, which are constantly repeated in the media, sound very threatening. In contrast, according to the RKI, an estimated 25,000 people died of influenza in the 2017/18 flu season.
At first glance, COVID-19 appears to be about three times more dangerous as a severe seasonal flu in Germany. But a comparison of the weekly course of age-specific mortality rates during the flu season 2020/21 with previous years shows no particular deviations, except that the peak in the flu season 2020/21 was recorded around the turn of the year, while in previous years it took place at the end of winter.
Figure 1: (click here for a larger display) Illustration by the author, data source: European Statistical Office. In order to include demographic changes, the weekly age-specific mortality rates were added up in this chart.
In fact, during the 2020/21 flu season in Germany, in all age groups fewer people died in relation to the size of their respective age group than in the 2017/18 flu season.
Where do more than 74,000 COVID-19 victims in the 2020/21 flu season in Germany come from?
Looking at the annual numbers of total mortality in Germany, a steady increase with slight fluctuations since the beginning of the millennium can be noticed.
Figure 2: (click here for a larger display) Illustration by the author, data source: European Statistical Office
The reason for the increasing numbers, however, is not related to more dangerous illnesses or other external circumstances, but is simply based on the fact that the German population,