Excess Deaths during Influenza and Coronavirus Disease and Infection-Fatality Rate for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2, the Netherlands
Emerg. infect. dis
Since the 2009 influenza pandemic, the Netherlands has used a weekly death monitoring system to estimate deaths in excess of expectations. We present estimates of excess deaths during the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) epidemic and 10 previous influenza epidemics. Excess deaths per influenza epidemic averaged 4,000. The estimated 9,554 excess deaths (41% in excess) during the COVID-19 epidemic weeks 12-19 of 2020 appeared comparable to the 9,373 excess deaths (18%) during the severe influenza epidemic of 2017-18. However, these deaths occurred in a shorter time, had a higher peak, and were mitigated by nonpharmaceutical control measures. Excess deaths were 1.8-fold higher than reported laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 deaths (5,449). Based on excess deaths and preliminary results from seroepidemiologic studies, we estimated the infection-fatality rate to be 1%. Monitoring of excess deaths is crucial for timely estimates of disease burden for influenza and COVID-19. Our data complement laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 death reports and enable comparisons between epidemics.