24 Dec, 2021 @ 10:30
2 mins read

ANALYSIS: The stats that reveal who died from COVID-19 in Spain during first year of pandemic

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Employees of the Ciriego Cemetery in Santander, Spain, on May 25, 2020, remove a coffin, the first day they opened to the public in phase 2 of the de-escalation of the mandatory confinement imposed by the Government due to the coronavirus. (Photo by Joaquin Gomez Sastre/NurPhoto)

SPAIN’S National Institute of Statistics (INE) this month published the first dataset on COVID-19 deaths according to age and location.

The figures allow for visualisation of the 494,000 deaths in 2020, which were 70,000 above normal (17.9%) and the highest annual death toll in the last century.

Data shows Madrid was the worst-affected region with eight of the capital’s districts registering in the 10 municipalities with most excess deaths across Spain’s 8131 municipalities.

Leganes in the capital’s southwest was the worst-affected municipality in Spain, registering 875 more deaths than an annual average of 1,300 over the last four years – a 67% increase. 

The hospital Severo Ochoa in the district was one of the first to collapse during the first wave in early 2020, where people residents routine operations caught COVID-19 in corridors overwhelmed with patients and died without seeing their families again.

Neighbouring Alcorcon, Alcalà de Henares in the northeast and Mejorada del Campo in the east of Madrid also featured in the top 5 worst-affected municipalities, alongside Ciudad Real in Castilla La Mancha.

The entire region of Madrid registered 9,800 more deaths than normal (+33%), followed by Barcelona with 3,500 above normal (21%) and Zaragoza with 1,300 above normal (+20%).

It’s the first time researchers have been able to map COVID-19 across municipalities, and INE researchers adjusted statistics to include deaths in care homes among patients without a positive PCR test though where COVID-19 was the likely killer.

According to figures some 60,358 died following a positive COVID-19 test, to which the INE added 14,481 extra suspected deaths.

The majority of excess deaths occurred in April (81.9% above normal) and March (59.3%) in the weeks after Spain went into lockdown on March 14.

excess deaths from COVID-19 in 2020 Source: INE
Excess deaths in Spain throughout 2020. Source: INE and ElDiario.

November 2021 saw the third highest figures for excess deaths (21% above normal) in 2020. 

Data showed 87.3% of registered COVID-19 deaths were among over-70s in Spain – this rose to 93.3% of undiagnosed but suspected COVID-19 deaths.

While urban areas over 500,000 population showed the highest excess death rates (23,1%) villages 500 inhabitants showed the second-highest excess death rates (21.7%).

Regions where death rates were the lowest in 2020 – and often even less than normal – occurred in regions popular with expats.

Adeje in Tenerife showed 12% fewer deaths than normal, and is the municipality with the highest population of foreign residents in Spain. 

Other municipalities with high percentages of foreign-born residents and lower-than-normal death rates include Alfaz del Pi and Javea in the Valencian community, and Fuengirola in Malaga province. 

You can see a visualisation of COVID-19 deaths by municipality with foreign-born populations here.


Joshua Parfitt

Joshua James Parfitt is the Costa Blanca correspondent for the Olive Press. He holds a gold-standard NCTJ in multimedia journalism from the award-winning News Associates in Twickenham. His work has been published in the Sunday Times, Esquire, the Mail on Sunday, the Daily Mail, the Sun, the Sun on Sunday, the Mirror, among others. He has appeared on BBC Breakfast to discuss devastating flooding in Spain, as well as making appearances on BBC and LBC radio stations.

Contact me now: [email protected] or call +44 07960046259. Twitter: @jjparfitt

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