Impact of COVID-19 on the total Italian Mortality

This article provides a strict and condensed summary of the ISTAT document named Impatto Dell’epidemia Covid-19 Sulla Mortalità Totale Della Popolazione Residente Primo Trimestre 2020 released May 4th 2020. This article is a non-sensationalized analysis the 30 pages content in the orginal, non-translated ISTAT PDF linked below.

The document and this articles compares the March mortality in 2020 vs the average March mortality of 2015-2019.

Important to note that there have not been any notable demographic changes between 2015 and 2020. The average mortality data is coherent from year to year.

49.4% growth in deaths from all causes

  • From the February 20 2020 (first COVID-19 death in Italy) to March 31 2020, there has been 90,946 total deaths in Italy.
  • From the same period in 2015-2019, there were an average of 65,592 deaths.

There is an excess of 25,354 deaths, of which 54% (13,710) are deaths diagnosed with COVID-19.

91% of this mortality excess is concentrated in areas highly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic

In 3,271 municipalities and 37 provinces in North Italy, the mortality in March 2020 more than doubled in comparison of the average mortality in 2015-2019.
The most affected region was Lombardy (most populated Italian region), which saw an increase of 186.5%. Impact of COVID-19 in Italy on Total Mortality

Mortality excess is nearly 2x more important in males

  • Mortality of men between 70-79 years increased by 2.3 times between Feb 20 and Mar 31, and by 2.2 times in the 80-89 years category.
  • Mortality of females, in all ages above 70, increased by 1.2 times.

Three hypotheses may explain the excess of 11,600 deaths not caused by COVID-19

  1. Further mortality associated with Covid-19, in which the swab test was not performed (no covid testing).
  2. Indirect mortality associated with Covid-19, that resulted from organ (heart, kidney) disfunction triggered by the viral infection.
  3. Indirect mortality not related to Covid-19, but caused by the crisis of the hospital system and the associated fear of going to the hospital. 

COVID-19 deaths were the major cause of death in March 2020 vs March 2017

  • Since the first days of March, deaths caused by Covid-19 were higher than Alzheimer, dementias and diabetes.
  • At mid-month, Covid-19 deaths were more common than all respiratory diseases and cancer deaths.
  • By March 22, Covid-19 was the main cause of all deaths.


Istat (Istituto Nazionale di Statistica), 04 May 2020

Press release:

Full PDF: Impatto Dell’epidemia Covid-19 Sulla Mortalità Totale Della Popolazione Residente Primo Trimestre 2020

Translated text PDF (via Rapporto_Istat_ISS_translated (30 pages)