The latest survey by the World Health Organization (WHO) on excess mortality in the first two years of the pandemic triggered a discussion about corona policy and reporting statistics in Germany.

For Germany, the WHO reported an excess mortality of 96 to 137 cases per 100,000 inhabitants - an average of 116 deaths - after processing the national data with its own calculation model.

This would place excess mortality in Germany in the top third of rich countries, behind Italy and the United States.

But it would be significantly higher than in Spain, Great Britain, the Netherlands, France, Belgium and Sweden.

Joachim Müller-Jung

Editor in the feuilleton, responsible for the "Nature and Science" department.

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The excess mortality for the pandemic indicates - in contrast to the pure Covid 19 reporting data from the health authorities - how many more people died in a period than in "normal" years before the pandemic.

In addition to the direct Covid 19 deaths, this also includes those who died indirectly, for example due to impairments in the health system.

Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) is coming under pressure, especially with reference to the much lower excess mortality in Sweden – the figure there is 56 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants – where significantly less restrictive protective measures applied.

Lauterbach, although he has only been a minister since December, had previously emphasized the supposed success of the Corona measures.

In fact, Sweden also cuts

In Germany, October 2020 in particular had worsened the death statistics, when the numbers had risen exponentially for weeks and measures were only taken much later than in other European countries in the autumn wave.

However, what is particularly critical in the WHO balance sheet is the balance sheet for the year 2021, when corona vaccines had long been available to the general population.

The WHO working group determined an average excess mortality of 153 in the second year of the pandemic. This would mean that during this period - especially in the last quarter of 2021 - a good forty percent of the excess mortality caused by Covid-19 would not have been officially reported.

The WHO does not explain how this deviation, which is unusual compared to other countries, comes about.

There was no official statement by Tuesday afternoon from the Federal Ministry of Health or the Federal Statistical Office responsible for calculating excess mortality.

Experts speculate that a large part of the Covid 19 deaths caused by the vaccination gaps in the eastern federal states have not been recorded and reported as such.

The Federal Statistical Office had recently repeatedly pointed out the excess mortality from Covid-19.

Between March 2020 and February 2021, around 71,000 more people died in the country than before Corona.

And until the end of 2021, the excess mortality in the country was "significantly" influenced by the pandemic, according to the authority.

The sometimes extreme deviations between the federal states were explained by scientists from the Ernst Abbe University of Erfurt with the very different vaccination rates.

The more and the more often people are vaccinated, the lower the excess mortality.

In the months of March and April 2022, the Federal Office also reported five and six percent higher death rates than the average of previous years, despite the absence of the flu epidemic.