High excess mortality in areas with young and socially vulnerable populations during the COVID-19 outbreak in Stockholm Region, Sweden

Amaia Calderón-Larrañaga, Davide L. Vetrano, Debora Rizzuto, Tom Bellander, Laura Fratiglioni, Serhiy Dekhtyar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Introduction We aimed to describe the distribution of excess mortality (EM) during the first weeks of the COVID-19 outbreak in the Stockholm Region, Sweden, according to age, sex and sociodemographic context. Methods Weekly all-cause mortality data were obtained from Statistics Sweden for the period 1 January 2015 to 17 May 2020. EM during the first 20 weeks of 2020 was estimated by comparing observed mortality rates with expected mortality rates during the five previous years (N=2 379 792). EM variation by socioeconomic status (tertiles of income, education, Swedish-born, gainful employment) and age distribution (share of 70+-year-old persons) was explored based on Demographic Statistics Area (DeSO) data. Results EM was first detected during the week of 23-29 March 2020. During the peak week of the epidemic (6-12 April 2020), an EM of 150% was observed (152% in 80+-year-old women; 183% in 80+-year-old men). During the same week, the highest EM was observed for DeSOs with lowest income (171%), lowest education (162%), lowest share of Swedish-born (178%) and lowest share of gainfully employed residents (174%). EM was further increased in areas with higher versus lower proportion of younger people (magnitude of increase: 1.2-1.7 times depending on socioeconomic measure). Conclusion Living in areas characterised by lower socioeconomic status and younger populations was linked to excess mortality during the COVID-19 pandemic in the Stockholm Region. These conditions might have facilitated viral spread. Our findings highlight the well-documented vulnerability linked to increasing age and sociodemographic context for COVID-19-related death.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere003595
JournalBMJ Global Health
Volume5
Issue number10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 27 2020
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Descriptive study
  • epidemiology
  • public health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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