"Everyone has the right to clear, accessible, timely and meaningful information about the nature and extent of the threat to their health".

(Esteban Beltrán, Director of Amnesty International's Spanish Section, before the Economic and Social Reconstruction Commission of the Spanish Parliament, European Union Group, 12 June 2020)

1.1. Definition of the problem

Following the declaration of the SARS-CoV-19 virus epidemic as a pandemic by the World Health Organisation in spring 2020, nation-state attempts to contain it have proliferated: from data collection through testing and corresponding quarantines, to travel restrictions, restrictions on movement in general, to more or less pronounced regional and national so-called "lockdowns".

The significance of a pandemic is demonstrated above all by its effects on the death rate of societies.
Accordingly, all these measures pursued the goal of reducing the number of severe cases and deaths caused by the pandemic by interrupting the chains of infection and stretching the curve of the number of infected persons over time, also in order to avoid overloading the health systems.

In Germany, a "scenarios paper" from the Federal Ministry of the Interior became public in April 2020 (today available on the website of the Federal Ministry of the Interior. Also available in Materials, downloaded on 16/05/2021), in which, "in order to achieve the desired shock effect", it was and still is demanded to move away "... from a case mortality rate that sounds insignificant in percentage terms", to the clarification of the "concrete effects of a contamination on human society":

"... Many seriously ill people are brought to hospital by their relatives, but are turned away and die in agony at home, struggling to breathe. (...)
If they (the children, R.W.) then infect their parents, and one of them dies in agony at home and they feel they are to blame because, for example, they forgot to wash their hands after playing, it is the most terrible thing a child can ever experience."

Media outlets published their accounts of the pandemic situation and the responses of the governments of various countries. This was done mainly through detached figures of test results, i.e. infected persons, hospital admissions, intensive care treatments, invasive ventilation becoming necessary, and deaths related to the virus infection.

In both countries covered by this study, the focus was on absolute figures without reference, i.e. without their context, in which they must necessarily be seen and without which they lose their meaning.
They were limited to detailed discussions of the effectiveness and significance of tests, the possible overloading of the health service, the utilization of intensive care beds, the lack of ventilators, the significance of incidence or R-values and the effectiveness of protective masks outdoors and indoors.
The symptomatology of pneumonia and problems of mortuary practices in selected locations were also highlighted regularly, as were the long-term effects of the disease.

The significance of a pandemic, however, is measured primarily by its impact on the deaths of societies, which - like births - have been registered for a long time by the nation-state institutions charged with this task and, for some years now, have been reported by some European countries to a central registration office in Copenhagen, EuroMoMo, https://www.euromomo.eu.

The first step presented here therefore attempts to trace the changes in mortality during the so-called "first wave" in spring 2020 for two of those countries, Spain and Germany, which experienced very different courses of the pandemic.

A second step will be reserved for gaining information about the effects of the measures taken in each case on the course of mortality - possibly in contrast with the courses of events in some other countries.

Attempt to view in perspective the health hazard posed by the COVID-19 pandemic

Mortality in spring of 2020 in Spain and Germany compared to the general death rate in both countries

Tenagua, 12th June, 2020

1. Definition of the problem and summary of findings

1.2. Summary

Mortality Spain, week 20-2020

(https://www.euromomo.eu/graphs-and-maps/, updated every Thursday; diagram for Spain, bulletin week 20/2020, consulted on 15/05/2020)

The death rate in Spain is significantly higher during the period mentioned. This is also confirmed if we look not only at specific regions or periods of time, but at the entire country and at a period of four months, usual for an influenza epidemic.

Regardless of the way it is viewed or presented, it is an unusual phenomenon in terms of the severity of its course and its timing in the year.

In purely quantitative terms, it is no longer within the range of deaths during the 2017/18 flu epidemic - after the delayed reporting of around 12,000 deaths at the end of May 2020 - but 6 % above it, with no extraordinary measures taken at the time of flu in 2017/18.

There was a direct temporal coincidence of excess mortality with the emergence of the new virus and a significantly increased number of deaths with* laboratory-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection. This suggests a causal relationship.

While an average of 526 people officially died every day with* COVID-19 from 17 March to 3 May 2020, the 48 days of excess mortality or "first wave", simultaneously 787 people continued to die daily from the usual circulatory system diseases, tumours and other respiratory diseases.

Mortality Germany, week 20-2020

(https://www.euromomo.eu/graphs-and-maps/; diagram for Germany, bulletin week 20/2020, consulted on 15/05/2020. At the time, only Berlin and Hesse participated in EuroMoMo.)

In Germany, the death rate during the period from January to the end of April 2020 is unchanged and below what happened in previous strong influenza epidemics when no extraordinary measures were taken.

The new virus did not develop statistical significance. Thus, for the deaths with* laboratory-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection,
- either the new virus was not the cause
- or the measures taken have led to an overall reduction in mortality, thus statistically offsetting the possible additional COVID-19 deaths
- or a combination of both.

When, from 17 March to 3 May 2020 (the 48 days with excess mortality in Spain, chosen here only for reasons of comparability), an average of 139 people officially died daily in Germany with* COVID-19, simultaneously 1,770 people continued to die daily from the usual diseases of the circulatory system, tumours and other respiratory diseases.

---> Continue reading: Spain

* I present the official data here for reasons of comparability, even though I know that a death with a confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection does not mean that it caused the death. The death could have been caused by a different disease or hastened by the infection. Both probably happened in cases where one or more pre-existing conditions were present.


1. Definition of the problem and summary

1.1. Definition of the problem

1.2. Summary

2. Spain

2.1 General mortality pattern

2.2 Deaths in Spain between February and the end of May 2020

Table 1: Monthly deaths (all causes) in Spain at times of influenza and COVID-19

3. Germany

3.1 General mortality pattern

3.2 Deaths in Germany between January and the end of April 2020

Table 2: Monthly deaths (all causes) in Germany at times of influenza and COVID-19

4. The usual "background" mortality patterns in Spain and Germany
compared to deaths with COVID-19

5. Open questions

6. Personal follow-up comments in May 2021

7. Sources

8. Materials

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