Excess total mortality in 2021 in Italy was about one third of that observed in 2020

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Gianfranco Alicandro https://orcid.org/0000-0002-0430-2714
Giuseppe Remuzzi
Stefano Centanni
Alberto Gerli
Carlo La Vecchia

Keywords

Covid-19, SARS-CoV-2, Pandemic, Working age

Abstract

Background: Italy was severely hit by the Covid-19 pandemic with an excess of around 90,000 total deaths in 2020. Comparable data in 2021 are needed for monitoring the effects of the interventions adopted to control its spread and reduce the burden. This study estimates the excess mortality in Italy in the first eight months of 2021, with a focus on the working age population. Methods: Excess mortality was estimated as difference between the number of registered deaths and the expected deaths. Expected deaths in March-December 2020 and January-August 2021 were estimated separately by sex, through an over-dispersed Poisson regression model using mortality and population data for the period 2011-2019 (before the Covid-19 outbreak). The models included terms for calendar year, age group, a smooth function of week of the year and the natural logarithm of the population as offset term.  Results: In the first eight months of 2021, we estimated 34,599 excess deaths (+7.9% of the expected deaths), of these 3667 were among individuals of working age (25-64 years). In this age group, mortality was 8.2% higher than expected with higher excesses among men (2972 deaths, +10.7%) than women (695 deaths, +4.1%). Conclusions: The excess deaths in the first eight months of 2021 account for about one third of that registered in 2020. Current data indicate that around 5000 excess deaths are expected by the end of the year, leading to a total excess for 2021 of around 40 thousand deaths. Despite the absence of influenza in January-March 2021, a relevant excess was also observed among the working age population.

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