France – World | Decryption: understanding the excess mortality linked to the coronavirus

It will take several years to get a precise assessment of the excess mortality caused by Covid-19.

The 2003 precedent

Inserm, the state research institute on diseases, only published in May 2007 the results of its study on excess mortality linked to the heat wave of August 2003. The number of deaths linked to the episode high heat from August 3 to 11, 2003 was established at 19,400 based on vital statistics. But in the regions most affected, the death curve dropped slightly in the five months that followed compared to the previous year. Hence an excess mortality finally established around 15,000. Statistically, a quarter of deaths can be considered as anticipated. However, this notion does not exist from a scientific point of view.

The excess mortality of the Covid-19

Regarding Covid-19, Professor Jérôme Salomon, Director of Health, announced excess mortality rates of 48% on April 11, of 57% on April 13. This is in fact the percentage obtained if we take into account the average daily number of deaths and the number of deaths linked to coronavirus in hospitals and the few Ehpad that have reported data.

Why it will be necessary to qualify these figures

This excess mortality must however be qualified. At the margins, the number of road fatalities (3 per day), leisure accidents, falls will decrease markedly during the confinement period. Above all, as with the heat wave, many patients have what is known as comorbidities. To simplify, the virus is grafted onto other pathologies. Smoothed over the year, this excess mortality will undoubtedly have decreased, over five years even more.

What do we die in France?

In all age groups, even in children, cancers became the first cause of death at the turn of the century due to cardiovascular diseases, despite a decrease in cancer mortality each year, the gap widens each year especially in men. These two causes are responsible for more than half of the deaths. AIDS killed 4,800 people in 1994, 300 to 320 from 2012 to 2016.

Regarding violent deaths, accidents at work kill 12 times less than in the 1980s and road accidents five times less than in the 1970s. Suicides have decreased by 30% in 25 years. Less publicized, deaths from accidents in life and leisure (suffocation, drowning, falls, burns, shocks) remain at the same level.

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