Estimating COVID-19 mortality is impeded by uncertainties in cause of death coding. In contrast, age-adjusted excess all-cause mortality is a robust indicator of how the COVID-19 pandemic impacts public health. However, in addition to COVID-19 deaths, excess mortality potentially also reflects indirect negative effects of public health measures aiming to contain the pandemic.
The study examines whether excess mortality in Germany between January 2020 and July 2021 is consistent with fatalities attributed to COVID-19 or may be partially due to indirect effects of public health measures.
Excess mortality trends for the period from January 2020 to July 2021 were checked for consistency with deaths attributed to COVID-19 in both the German federal states and districts of Rhineland-Palatinate. The expected monthly mortality rates were predicted based on data from 2015-2019, taking into account the population demographics, air temperature, seasonal influenza activity, and cyclic and long-term time trends RESULTS: COVID-19-attributed mortality was included in the 95% prediction uncertainty intervals for excess mortality in 232 of 304 (76.3%) month-state combinations and in 607 of 684 (88.7%) month-district combinations. The Spearman rank correlation between excess mortality and COVID-19-attributed mortality across federal states was 0.42 (95% confidence interval [0.31; 0.53]) and 0.21 (95% confidence interval [0.13; 0.29]) across districts.
The good agreement of spatiotemporal excess mortality patterns with COVID-19 attributed mortality is consistent with the assumption that indirect adverse effects from public health interventions to contain the COVID-19 pandemic did not substantially contribute to excess mortality in Germany between January 2020 and July 2021.

© 2021. The Author(s).