In 2020, nearly 10,000 more people died in Hungary than a year earlier. The increase is clearly due to the coronavirus epidemic, but it is worrying that the mortality rate only increased during the second wave, and drastically. In this period alone, nearly 15,000 more people died than in the same period of the previous year.
New statistics released by the Central Statistical Office found that a total of 139,549 people died in Hungary last year, nearly ten thousand more than in 2019. This is the highest mortality rate in the country since 1999.
Mortality only jumped significantly in the fall, the data also reveals, during which time the second wave of the pandemic started spreading. Similar to other CEE countries, the Covid pandemic had a more devastating impact during its second wave in Hungary as well.
By the end of the year, 9,667 fatalities could be attributed to the coronavirus, according to the government’s official coronavirus portal.
Up until September no surge in mortality could be observed, and even January and February brought quite encouraging numbers partly as the regular flu season was mild compared to previous years.
Even after the coronavirus first appeared in Hungary in March last year, the death toll rose by just a few hundred, and during the summer months it was even a bit less severe than a year earlier. Analysts had previously cited a decline in the number of accidents as one of the reasons behind this seasonal decline compared to 2019 data.
In contrast, during the last three months of 2020, we witnessed an increase in a mortality rate so drastic that had not been seen before in Hungary.
12,500 people died in October and more than 16,000 in November and December. In these three months alone, nearly 45,000 people died, which means 13,000 more fatalities in the last quarter than a year earlier.
Another statistic published by Eurostat also reveals how significant the excessive mortality was in Hungary in the last months of 2020. The data table shows the percentage of monthly additional deaths in 2020 compared to average monthly deaths in 2016-2019 in European countries. According to the figures excluding April, Hungary’s excessive mortality rate remained below the average of previous years. The first small jump was recorded in September (4%), but the gap widened dramatically in October. By the end of November, the death toll in Hungary shockingly increased by 57% compared to the average of the previous three years. It remained high throughout the last month of the year with 43%.
Unfortunately, based on KSH’s data, the total number of deaths increased slightly more than the official coronavirus death toll, which implies that more people have actually died from the virus than official reports by the operative board suggest, and the epidemic could have an adverse effect on patient care as well.
Featured photo illustration by Károly Árvai/kormany.hu