How much did the coronavirus increase mortality?

English2021. jan. 7.Növekedé

Spanish flu, which raged through the world in 1918, was 150 times more deadly than the coronavirus. An average of 57 million people die in the world every year. The 1.8 million victims of the coronavirus so far accounts for 3 percent of that number. In Hungary, the number of coronavirus-related deaths makes up seven percent of the average annual deaths.

Worse than flu, but better than the 1918 ‘Spanish flu pandemic

While we have already got used to having influenza epidemics every yearand the course of the disease can be hard with many elderly people dying from it, we are now facing a disease that has been unprecedented since 1918.

Fortunatelythis one is much milder, as the virus called Spanish flu and its complications claimed the lives of at least 50 million people, which made up 3 percent of the world population at the time, and the mortality rate was the highest among young adults.

The current pandemic has claimed roughly 1.8 million lives so far, mostly elderly people’s, so it accounts for 0.02 percent of the global population of 7.8 billion today, thus Spanish flu was 150 times more deadly.

Todayhowever, one hundred years after the Spanish flu pandemic medical science is much more advanced, so there is much less tolerance for severe or fatal diseases: it is no coincidence that today we are experiencing restrictive measures that were rarely and only briefly taken in 1918 (of course the primitive telecommunication facilities available at the time compared to today did not allow people to work remotely, for example).

Excess mortality in the world

As we wrote about it here,

roughly 57 million people die in the world each year, and the 1.8 million is roughly 3 percent of that, so confirmed Covid cases have increased mortality by that amount worldwide. As far as the individual countries are concerned,

the Covid-19 death count of 350,000

in the US is the highest numbermaking up 13 percent of the normal annual 2.7 million deaths.

In China, the number is virtually zero, because the virus completely disappeared after the first fierce wave (it will be exciting to find out once how they were able to achieve this), while India's 150,000 Covid victims account for only 1.5 percent in excess of the 10 million annual deaths.

Excess mortality caused by Covid-19 as a percentage of standard annual data





Great Britain

















In Russia, 
the average annual death count is 1.8 million, and although only about 60,000 Covid-related deaths have been reported, the total number of deaths increased by 230,000, on the basis of which a former official of the Russian statistical office estimates the actual figure at 180-190 thousand, which would mean 10 percent Covid-related excess mortality.

Our continent

In Europe, the country which was the first to face the coronavirus outbreak was Italy.

In Italy, there are 630-640 thousand deaths a year and the Covid-19 death count so far makes up about 12 percent of that,

so the situation is practically the same as in the US.

In Great Britain and Spain this figure is also 12 percent, while in Germany it is only 3.5 percent. The Hungarian figure is around 7 percent, which is lower than in many other countries, also because here the annual mortality relative to the population is unfortunately high under normal circumstances, as well.

Covid compared to other causes of death

If we compare Covid-related deaths to other causes, we can see that

mortality from the three major non-disease-related causes was far surpassed by COVID.

Approximately 400,000 people are murdered, 800,000 people take their own lives and 1.2 million die in road accidents each year.

In comparison with major serious diseasesCovid mortality is much lower than the 6.5 million deaths from respiratory diseases. However, AIDS, for example, claimed 780,000 lives in 2018, and if we count with a similar number for 2020, it means that Covid has taken more than twice as many lives as this previously dreaded disease, which has been with us for four decades now, and which is getting more and more curable and spreads less easily, anyway.

Covid deaths in 2020 compared to other death causes of similar magnitude in the world


400 000


800 000


780 000

Road accidents

1 200 000


1 800 000

Respiratory diseases

6 000 000

ituation in Hungary

The Hungarian data show that the 7 percent increase in annual mortality is well above the 1.3 percent suicide rate and also the 2.8 percent rate of accidentsbut it is also slightly higher than the 5 percent rate of gastrointestinal diseases and the 6.2 percent rate of respiratory diseases.

Thus, of the main death causes listed by the Central Statistical Office only the proportion of cardiovascular and cancer-related diseases is higher than the coronavirus, with roughly 50 and 25 percent, respectively. Of course, the picture is slightly modified by the fact that if the cause of death is different, but the deceased tested positive for Covid, their death is automatically included in the Covid statistics.