Overall mortality

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The COVID-19 pandemic in Spain. First wave: from the first cases to the end of June 2020

Monographs from the National Atlas of Spain.

Thematic structure > The COVID-19 pandemic in Spain > Overview > Overall mortality

Overall mortality registered a remarkable rise in Spain from March to June 2020, i.e. during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. The total amount of deaths during this period was 183,297, i.e. 25% more than expected.

  • Statistical graph: Evolution in the number of deaths. January - June 2017 - 2020. 2017-2020. Spain.
  • Statistical graph: Age-sex pyramid of the deceased. 1 March - 30 June 2020. 2020. Spain.

The graph on the Evolution in the number of deaths shows both the usual or expected mortality (understood as that which occurred on average in the three-year period 2017-2019) and the mortality recorded in 2020 during the first six months of the year. The differences are clear. A peak was reached in April 2020, with 60,566 deaths, compared to an average of about 34,000 deaths in the previous triennial. This means over 26,000 deaths above the average; that is +78%. Also 57,500 deaths were recorded in March 2020 compared to an average of about 37,500 over the previous three years; that is +53%. There was also a slight increase in deaths registered during the month of May 2020 (less than +5%) compared to the previous three years. By contrast, the months of January, February and June 2020 saw a slightly lower mortality rate than the average for the same months of the previous three years (between -5% and -10%).

Overall mortality had a greater impact on older age groups as shown in the Age-sex pyramid of deceased for the months from March to June 2020. It shall be noted that not all deaths were directly caused by the virus. However, it could well be argued that the effects of the pandemic were felt more severely in the upper reaches of the pyramid. The lack of symmetry in the figure with longer sections corresponding to the female population may be explained by the greater longevity of women, which means that they were more exposed to the action of the virus and to death in general.

In addition, the cumulative average number of deaths in the months from March to June of the three-year period 2017-2019 and those recorded during the same months in 2020 were calculated. The results are shown on two maps using the province as the spatial unit of analysis. The differences between one and the other are significant. The provinces of Madrid and Barcelona stand out. In the former, 32,222 deaths were registered in 2020 compared to an average of 15,323 in the previous three-year period, i.e. more than double (+110%). In the latter, the figures showed 25,537 deaths in 2020 compared to an average of 15,233 during the previous three years, i.e. +68%.

Finally, it may be interesting to look closely at the eight maps of monthly fatalities by province. There are four maps showing, on the one hand, the average amount of deaths during the months of March, April, May and June of the three-year period 2017-2019, and, on the other hand, the number of deaths during the same months in 2020. Particularly striking is the behaviour of the month of April, when the impact of the pandemic was very severe even in the least populated provinces.


Co-authorship of the text in Spanish: José Sancho Comíns. See the list of members engaged

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You can download the complete publication The COVID-19 pandemic in Spain. First wave: from the first cases to the end of June 2020 in Libros Digitales del ANE site.