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Human Mortality Database: Portugal with the highest excess mortality in Western Europe between 2020 and 2021

Portugal is amongst the countries with the highest excess mortality in Europe, solely surpassed by a-few Eastern nations. Scandinavian countries such as Denmark, Norway or Sweden produce the lowest numbers.

Mortality excess is a global measure which calculates the real impact of a crisis, similarly to the pandemic, and provides greater comparisons between countries.

As eurostat explains:

“While the international comparability of data directly associated with COVID-19 may still be arguable due to the possibility of different rules of causes of death classification and coverage issues, this approach gives a general measure of the impact of the crisis on the mortality rate because it includes all deaths regardless of their cause.”

Excess Mortality in Europe

Based on data collected from the Human Mortality Database portal, we identified countries in Europe with a higher rate of excess mortality in contrast to other nations with lower numbers.

The research was conducted referencing data from the pandemic years 2020 and 2021, compared to the previous period of 2015 to 2019.

Small Western European countries with less than 500.000 inhabitants are not included in this database (Andorra, Liechtenstein, Malta, San Marino). Moreover, several Eastern European states are not present or provide incomplete data (namely Russia).

Summary Table

Footnote: Week 40 used as the reference point for the analysis of most countries, in order to have comparable consolidated data not subjected to further changes. Some countries show data from earlier weeks and are therefore falling behind or susceptible to minor adjustments.
*No mortality rate figures submitted for Russia in 2021

Countries with lower Excess Mortality


Mortality deficit per million inhabitants (-130), up until week 40 of 2021.


Higher number, although low compared to other countries: 430, up to week 40.


The country which recorded a high excess mortality at the beginning of the pandemic, by week 40 of 2021, has 550 excess deaths per million population.


One of the countries with the fewest Covid deaths, shows an excess mortality of 632 per million population.

Countries with the highest Excess Mortality rate


Encompassed in the Eastern European countries that only registered a significant excess mortality throughout the second half of last year. Bulgaria shows a high number of excess mortality until week 40 of 2021, with 5428 excess deaths per million inhabitants, the highest of all the countries analysed.


More changes and peaks in excess mortality are presented in the statistical graph for Poland. Nevertheless, by week 40 of 2021, the registered number of excess deaths is 3864.

Czech Republic

Renowned as one of the successful cases at the beginning of the pandemic, Czech Republic presents an excess of mortality of 3454 per one million inhabitants, until weel 38 of 2021.

Excess Mortality in Portugal

In comparison to the afore analysed countries, Portugal is amongst those with the highest excess mortality in Europe.

With the exception of Eastern Europe nations, Portugal shows the highest excess mortality.

Until week 40, it presents a value of 2348 excess deaths per million inhabitants.

Periods of high general estimated mortality whilst Covid mortality was considerably low, are noteworthy for the country, namely in the summer of 2020.

*Article written in collaboration with Eduardo Pinto Leite


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