Monitoring the mortality impact of COVID-19 in Europe: What can be learned from 2009 influenza H1N1p mortality studies?

Lisa Staadegaard, Robert J Taylor, Peter Spreeuwenberg, Saverio Caini, Lone Simonsen, W. John Paget

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Objectives: Understanding the proportion of pandemic deaths captured as ‘laboratory-confirmed’ deaths is crucial. We assessed the ability of laboratory-confirmed deaths to capture mortality in the EU during the 2009 pandemic, and examined the likelihood that these findings are applicable to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. Methods: We present unpublished results from the Global Pandemic Mortality (GLaMOR) project, in which country-specific mortality estimates were made for the 2009 influenza H1N1p pandemic. These estimates were compared with laboratory-confirmed deaths during the 2009 pandemic to estimate the ability of surveillance systems to capture pandemic mortality. Results: For the 2009 influenza H1N1p pandemic, we estimated that the proportion of true pandemic deaths captured by laboratory-confirmed deaths was approximately 67%. Several differences between the two pandemics (e.g. age groups affected) make it unlikely that this capture rate will be equally high for SARS-CoV-2. Conclusion: The surveillance of laboratory-confirmed deaths in the EU during the 2009 pandemic was more accurate than previously assumed. We hypothesize that this method is less reliable for SARS-CoV-2. Near-real-time excess all-cause mortality estimates, routinely compiled by EuroMOMO, probably offer a better indicator of pandemic mortality. We urge more countries to join this project and that national-level absolute mortality numbers are presented.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Infectious Diseases
Volume102
Issue number102
Pages (from-to)115-117
Number of pages3
ISSN1201-9712
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • Europe
  • Influenza
  • Mortality
  • Surveillance

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