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Cause-Specific Excess Mortality During the COVID-19 Pandemic (2020–2021) in 12 Countries of the C-MOR Consortium

Beeks, V. V., Achilleos, S., Quattrocchi, A. , Pallari, C. T., Critselis, E., Salameh, P., Rahmanian Haghighi, M. R., Rodriguez-Llanes, J. M., Ambrosio, G., Artemiou, A., Gabel, J., Bennett, C. M., Cuthbertson, J., Zimmermann, C., Schernhammer, E. S., Costa, A. J. L., de Carvalho, L. F., Lobato, J. C. P., Athanasiadou, M., Critchley, J. A., Goldsmith, L. P. ORCID: 0000-0002-6934-1925, Kandelaki, L., Glushkova, N., Davletov, K., Semenova, Y., Erzen, I., Verstiuk, O., Alekkou, D., Polemitis, A., Charalambous, A. & Demetriou, C. A. (2024). Cause-Specific Excess Mortality During the COVID-19 Pandemic (2020–2021) in 12 Countries of the C-MOR Consortium. Journal of Epidemiology and Global Health, 14(2), doi: 10.1007/s44197-024-00242-4


This study investigated cause-specific mortality rates in 12 countries during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021.

We collected weekly cause-specific mortality data from respiratory disease, pneumonia, cardiovascular disease (CVD) and cancer from national vital statistic databases. We calculated excess mortality for respiratory disease (excluding COVID-19 codes), pneumonia, and CVD in 2020 and 2021 by comparing observed weekly against expected mortality based on historical data (2015–2019), accounting for seasonal trends. We used multilevel regression models to investigate the association between country-level pandemic-related variables and cause-specific mortality.

Significant reductions in cumulative mortality from respiratory disease and pneumonia were observed in 2020 and/or 2021, except for Georgia, Northern Ireland, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine, which exhibited excess mortality for one or both causes. Australia, Austria, Cyprus, Georgia, and Northern Ireland experienced excess cumulative CVD mortality in 2020 and/or 2021. Australia, Austria, Brazil, Cyprus, Georgia, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Slovenia, experienced increased crude cumulative cancer mortality during 2020 and/or 2021 compared to previous years. Among pandemic-related variables, reported COVID-19 incidence was negatively associated with increased cancer mortality, excess respiratory, (2020) and pneumonia (2021) mortality, and positively associated with respiratory and CVD mortality (2021). Stringency of control measures were negatively associated with excess respiratory disease, CVD, and increased cancer mortality (2021).

This study provides evidence of substantial excess mortality from CVD, and notable reductions in respiratory disease and pneumonia in both years across most countries investigated. Our study also highlights the beneficial impact of stringent control measures in mitigating excess mortality from most causes in 2021.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit
Publisher Keywords: Cause-specific mortality, COVID-19, Cardiovascular diseases, Cancer, Respiratory tract infections, Public health measures
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HA Statistics
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Healthcare Services Research & Management
SWORD Depositor:
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