Some Calculations about Total Mortality in Europe in 2020 compared with 2016 and 2018
By Michael Pröbsting, International Secretary of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), 23 December 2020, www.thecommunists.net
Sometimes one feels like a Statistic Sherlock Holmes. I think I am not exaggerating in saying that I have some experience in dealing with statistics. I have written a number of books and academic essay with a focus on economic issues and in this context I often use official statistics which are available by the relevant institutions. However, I can say that it never was so challenging to find the relevant statistics for mortality for various European countries resp. for Europe as a whole for the year 2020 resp. the years before.
Usually these statistics are hidden or obscured. For example it is nearly impossible to find simple facts like how many people died in total in a given period and how many died in the same period in the past years and decades. One can find figures for extra mortality but not the total mortality. One can find figures comparing mortality this year with the years before … but these are not concrete figures but obscure “Z points”, “P points”, etc. reflecting which development the respective institutions “expected” and which development actually happened. One can find data for this and that week but not for a longer period. It is as if the official authorities would view such data as state secrets. In German we have a sarcastic saying for this: “Ein Schelm, wer Böses dabei denkt.“ (Shamed be he who thinks evil of it.)
Seriously, it is no accident that one can never hear such data in the public discussion about the COVID-19 pandemic. The governments and the media want to create the impression that Armageddon is close, that so many people are dying, etc. – so that we accept being put under curfew with massive restrictions for our freedom of movement, at least until we get the redeeming vaccination (provided by big drug monopolies having good connections with governments) and until we accept total surveillance (apps on our mobile for tracking our movements around the clock).
Why is it so important to find figures about the development of total mortality? It is important because it reflects the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. If the pandemic would be very severe and devastating, this would result in qualitatively higher figures of total mortality than this has been the case in the past years and decades. On the other hand, if total mortality is not much higher it reflects that the pandemic is not as dangerous as bourgeois governments and media claim in order to justify their anti-democratic Lockdown policy.
As readers of our publications will be aware the RCIT has argued from the very beginning of this crisis in February 2020 that while this is a serious pandemic, it is it is neither devastating nor unprecedented.  Using a number of official figures we demonstrated that the claim of bourgeois governments and their supporters among the Lockdown Left about the supposedly “unprecedented and highly dangerous COVID-19 pandemic” is simply a propaganda lie. It shall provide ideological legitimation for what we call the COVID-19 Counterrevolution, i.e. a vast expansion of the police and surveillance state and massive profits for capitalist monopolies and, at the same time, impoverishment and draconic anti-democratic restrictions for the popular masses.
On the figures available and some words of caution
As the year is coming to its end, we are now more and more in a position to compare the development of mortality of the year 2020, i.e. the COVID-19 year, with past years. In the last weeks we have published two articles on this issue based on official figures of the Swedish authorities. We did show that Sweden had a mortality rate in the first ten months of this year which is barely higher than it was in the last years. (Mortality per capita from January to October 2020 was +1% higher than in 2018.) 
Ths is particularly remarkable because Sweden is one of the few countries in the world which has neither imposed any lockdown nor mandatory mask-wearing – for which it has been unison denounced by the capitalist governments as well as by the bourgeoisified Lockdown Left.
Anyway, we are now in a position to provide the figures for the development of total mortality in Europe for the first 40 weeks in 2020 as well as the figures for the four years before. This is the period for which the latest publicly available data from Eurostat, the official statistical institution of the European Union, exist. These figures comprise 26 EU countries (except Ireland), the EFTA countries plus United Kingdom.
Before doing this we need to add a few words of caution.
1) First we can only present the development of mortality (and compare them) in absolute figures but not in per capita figures. For doing this we would need to have the exact figures for the population development of these 31 countries. What we know in general is that Europe’s population has slightly grown in the past years from 444.8 million (2016) to 447.7 million (2020), i.e. a plus of 0.65%. (See Table 1)
Table 1: Population of EU-27 (2016, 2018 and 2020) 
2) As we said above, the latest figures available cover the first 40 weeks of the year, i.e. we don’t have the complete data for the last 12 months. As we are currently facing a “second wave” of the Corona Virus we can expect that the total figures for mortality for the whole year 2020 will go up to a certain degree.
Excess death caused by other causes than COVID-19
3) As we already pointed out somewhere else, calculating total mortality has its advantages as well as disadvantages. The big advantage is that it put the figures of COVID-19 death in relation to total mortality instead of presenting absolute figures which might look big but look much less impressive when viewed in relation to death caused by other factors. Furthermore, it is well known that most people who die because of COVID-19 are old people or people with a history of a disease. Hence we have seen this year that people have died because of COVID-19 who, most likely, would have died otherwise by another disease. This becomes evident if we take e.g. Sweden where a disproportional high number of people died in spring (because of COVID-19) but a disproportional low number of people died in summer.  So for such reasons it is useful to take the figures for total mortality.
However, there is also a disadvantage with such a method. A number of people die not because of COVID-19 but because of the dramatic consequences of the Lockdown policy. People with a disease die because they can not go to hospital (or are afraid of it), can not receive regular treatment, are neglected in care homes, etc. It is very difficult to get a full overview how many people are victims of the Lockdown policy. However, we have one figure which demonstrates that we are talking about a highly significant issue.
As is known the official figure for COVID-19 death in England and Wales is currently about 62,000. What is much less known is that, according to official figures of the ONS, a total of 30,785 extra deaths not linked to Covid-19 were registered between March 7 and November 13 in care homes in England and Wales. This means more than 30,000 – half the number of the total COVID-19 deaths! – died more than usually die within this period in care homes for other reasons than the virus. The causes of these deaths are mostly heart disease and prostate cancer (for men) resp. dementia and Alzheimer’s disease as well as breast cancer (for women).  It is pretty clear that these excess deaths have been caused by the Lockdown policy and the neglect (or lack of resources because of the capitalist austerity policy in the health and care sector) to treat other diseases than COVID.
So while we still consider the figures for total mortality as the best approximation to understand the severity of the pandemic we should be aware that the numbers of death are very likely to be lower without a Lockdown policy and with an expansion of the health and care sector (more personal, better wages, more ICU’s, etc.). This is, we note in passing, another confirmation of the Marxist position against the capitalist Lockdown policy which the RCIT – in contrast to the shamefully Lockdown Left – has been advocating since the beginning of the crisis.
A rise of mortality in 2020 but neither dramatically nor unprecedented
Having said all this let us move now towards the actual figures for mortality in Europe. Below we reproduce the official figures of Eurostat which report the weekly death in 31 European countries in the first 40 weeks of 2020. (See Table 2) The results are highly interesting! 
According to these figures a total of 4,320,306 people have died in 31 European countries in the first 40 weeks of 2020. In 2018, 4,152,493 people died in the same period and in 2016 it was 3,932,522 people.
This means that in the first 40 weeks of 2020 – the COVID-19 year – +4.04% more people died than two years before.
Let us note – as we made similar calculations for Sweden some weeks ago – that total mortality in this country increased in January-October 2020, compared to the same period in 2018, by +3.3%.
It also means that in 2018 +5.59% more people died than two years before.
As we noted above we can expect, on one hand, that the growth of death in 2020 will be higher to a certain degree since the actual Eurostat figures do not cover the developments in the last weeks which saw an increase of COVID-19 caused mortality. On the other hand, mortality per capita might be slightly lower because of the growth of the population.
Nevertheless we can draw several important conclusions.
1) There has been an increase of total mortality in 2020. However this growth is not dramatic. All the public hysteria which governments have created lacks any factual base.
2) This is even more true when we take into account that such increase of death figures is nothing exceptional or unprecedented. As we have demonstrated, the increase of mortality from 2016 to 2018 (a year where COVID-19 or any other pandemic did not exist in Europe) has been even higher than the growth in the COVID year compared with two years before! In other words, the myth of “the unprecedented year of death” crumbles before our very eyes!
3) The increase of death figures in Europe in 2020 (compared to 2018) is higher than the same figures for Sweden – the country which had neither lockdown nor any other enforcement measures! Readers will remember that Sweden’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic is denounced by all governments and media in Europe and usually called a failure.
In conclusion, the latest data from the statistical office of the European Union strongly confirm the Marxist analysis of COVID-19 as a serious pandemic but neither very dangerous not unprecedented. Naturally, we don’t expect the governments to correct their course because of such facts. Their policy has never been driven by facts nor concern for public health but solely by thirst for more power and profits.
However, we hope that progressive activists who lend trust to the official propaganda of bourgeois governments and media will reconsider their position and break with any social-bonapartist support for the COVID-19 Counterrevolution. In any case, there are already substantial sectors of the working class and the oppressed who mistrust the official propaganda and who increasingly despise the draconic Lockdown policy. This is the camp of which Marxists are part of and it is our tasks to combine such justified hatred against the ruling class with a scientific socialist analysis and program!
Table 2. Weekly Deaths in 31 European Countries, 2016, 2018 and 2020 
Week\Years 2016 2018 2020
1 112327 120875 111499
2 108593 121078 117144
3 109761 120711 114839
4 109521 118083 112400
5 107619 118106 114751
6 108139 118207 111122
7 105627 120409 111708
8 106356 122865 108144
9 107650 127745 109262
10 106609 131179 110698
11 107027 122675 115902
12 104200 116098 125238
13 105692 111039 137187
14 104256 108998 147557
15 101109 107621 143048
16 97668 102392 135143
17 96915 98135 123856
18 96393 95780 112509
19 97949 93681 104586
20 94683 94010 103505
21 95053 94931 100029
22 91563 94287 94640
23 91662 93869 97112
24 90999 90924 95059
25 97173 91895 93781
26 92186 92716 96923
27 91698 94404 96874
28 92814 92850 93715
29 93826 94345 93647
30 92833 97160 95764
31 90502 102639 100828
32 89439 99218 99131
33 91735 92408 104075
34 93971 92608 98735
35 89920 89425 95930
36 91401 92637 94078
37 90750 92187 98636
38 89111 94176 100445
39 93325 92689 98500
40 94467 97438 102306
Total 3,932,522 4,152,493 4,320,306
Growth from 2016 to 2018: +5.59%
Growth from 2018 to 2020: +4.04%
 The RCIT has analyzed the COVID-19 counterrevolution extensively since its beginning. Starting from 2 February we have published more than 60 pamphlets, essays, articles and statements plus a book which are all compiled at a special sub-page on our website: https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/collection-of-articles-on-the-2019-corona-virus/. In particular we refer readers to the RCIT Manifesto: COVID-19: A Cover for a Major Global Counterrevolutionary Offensive. We are at a turning point in the world situation as the ruling classes provoke a war-like atmosphere in order to legitimize the build-up of chauvinist state-bonapartist regimes, 21 March 2020, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/covid-19-a-cover-for-a-major-global-counterrevolutionary-offensive/. In addition, we draw attention to our book by Michael Pröbsting: The COVID-19 Global Counterrevolution: What It Is and How to Fight It. A Marxist analysis and strategy for the revolutionary struggle, RCIT Books, April 2020, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/the-covid-19-global-counterrevolution/. See also our very first article on this issue by Almedina Gunić: Coronavirus: "I am not a Virus"... but WE will be the Cure! The chauvinist campaign behind the “Wuhan Coronavirus” hysteria and the revolutionary answer, 2 February 2020, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/wuhan-virus/; Michael Pröbsting: The Second Wave of the COVID-19 Counterrevolution. On the ruling class strategy in the current conjuncture, its inner contradictions and the perspectives of the workers and popular resistance, 20 July 2020, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/the-second-wave-of-the-covid-19-counterrevolution/; by the same author: The Police and Surveillance State in the Post-Lockdown Phase. A global review of the ruling class’s plans of expanding the bonapartist state machinery amidst the COVID-19 crisis, 21 May 2020, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/police-and-surveillance-state-in-post-lockdown-phase/; COVID-19: The Great Barrington Declaration is indeed Great! Numerous medical scientists protest against the reactionary lockdown policy, 11 October 2020, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/covid-19-the-great-barrington-declaration-is-indeed-great/.
 See on this e.g. Michael Pröbsting: COVID-19: How Severe is the Pandemic in Sweden Really? Once again, a comparison demonstrates that the mortality rate in 2020 is barely larger than in 2018, 8 December 2020, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/covid-19-how-severe-is-the-pandemic-in-sweden-really/; by the same author: COVID-19: Revealing Figures from Sweden. A comparison of the mortality rates of the first 9 months in 2020 with previous years confirm that this is a serious but not unprecedented pandemic, 23 November 2020, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/covid-19-revealing-figures-from-sweden/
 See the relevant figures in our above-mentioned articles on mortality in Sweden.
 See on this Press Association: Over 30,000 non-Covid-19 excess deaths at home in England and Wales since March, 24th November 2020, https://www.leighjournal.co.uk/news/national/18894043.30-000-non-covid-19-excess-deaths-home-england-wales-since-march/; BBC: Coronavirus: Almost 30,000 'excess' care homes deaths, 3 July 2020, https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-53280011
 Eurostat: Weekly death statistics, https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php?title=Weekly_death_statistics&stable#Number_of_deaths_higher_than_in_previous_years (accessed on 22 .12.2020)
 The source is Eurostat as indicated in the previous footnote. The weekly data are from the Excel table which can be downloaded at this link. The calculations for the total of the weekly data as well as the figures for growth are our own.