The seventh wave of Covid-19 and heat puts Spain ahead in excess mortality

More than two years after Covid-19 arrived in Spain, the feeling among a lot of the population and administrations is that the worst of the pandemic is over. The high immunisation, although only 54% of the population have been boosted, and the lower severity of the disease encourage this, but there are data that reminds us to remain vigilant with this and other health crises.

The European Statistical Office (Eurostat) has updated the statistics on excess mortality. With data for the month of July, based on a compilation of weekly death reports, this surplus of deaths in the EU was 15.8% higher than pre-pandemic levels (collected between 2016 and 2019).

However, there are notable differences depending on the Member States. In July, Spain again became the country with the highest rate, more than double the EU average, with an excess of 36.9%. The excesses registered by Cyprus (32.9%), Greece (31.2%), Portugal (28.8%), Malta (26.4%) and Italy (24.9%) also stood out.

Coincidentally, the countries in which a higher volume of deaths were reported compared to previous years are located in the south of the continent, a circumstance that could be related to the seventh wave of Covid-19 infections but also to the high temperatures recorded in these territories during the summer, which in some cases has broken all records. For example, in Spain it has been estimated that there have been 1,594 deaths attributable to heat, exceeding those in 2020 and 2021.

In these two and a half years of the pandemic, there have been several periods in which the increase in deaths has been more evident and significant, coinciding with the different epidemiological waves of infections that have affected European citizens.

At the European Union level, significant peaks in excess mortality were recorded at four specific times: April 2020 (+25.2%), November 2020 (+40%), April 2021 (+20.9%) and November 2021 (+26.5%). Meanwhile, the highest figure for 2022 was the +11.2% that was reported in the month of April, half that in the same month as in previous years.

As for the data reported by Spain, there have also been four peaks in deaths:  April 2020 (+80%), November 2020 (+24.4%), August 2021 (+18.5%) and July of 2022 (+36.9%). For its part, on two occasions it was below the pre-Covid-19 death levels: in June 2020 (-3%) and in March 2021 (-2.2%).