German Presidency of the Council Working Party on Statistics Belgium

Statistical Office:
Statistics Belgium (STATBEL)

COVID-19 dedicated website:

COVID-19 related project/initiative:
In-depth weekly mortality figures

Belgium is one of the hardest hit European countries by the COVID-19 Pandemic, and has witnessed marked excess mortality throughout the period mid-March to May, amongst its eldest populations in particular.

As everywhere in Europe, public health instances struggled to assess the exact size of Covid-related mortality, leading to sometimes fierce public debate e.g. on whether or not to include deaths not confirmed by a test. As a consequence, focus soon shifted to overall excess mortality figures, as these are much more reliable and allow international comparison.

Statistics Belgium developed, in the early stages of the crisis already, a consolidated database covering all deaths since 2009, including those occurring during the 2020 mortality peak. This database serves primarily as input for Eurostat's publication on weekly deaths (EURO-WDC), and our own publication. From the start on, however, the scope of this database was much wider conceptualized than merely these publications.

The key to this is full Integration in our data system, allowing for linkage with information from census and other administrative data sources. Variables like educational attainment, income, and to some extent residency in residential care were integrated. This makes detailed analysis on e.g. the social gradient of excess mortality and the spatial distribution a real possibility.

The database is to some degree a catalyst for collaboration between Statistics Belgium, the public health instances and Belgian universities. A number of studies run and several papers are in preparation. As the resulting excess mortality figures are completely in line with the EURO-MOMO figures for Belgium (, feasibility for integration between both statistics is explored.

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