COVID Death Rates in Europe Are Overtaking U.S. as Multiple Nations Gripped by Second Wave

Coronavirus death rates in Belgium and Spain have surpassed that of the U.S. The death rates in Italy and Sweden were reported to be not far behind the figure in the U.S., according to data compiled by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The latest reports come as Europe battles a second wave of the COVID-19 outbreak. Several countries in Europe have announced new restrictions following a recent rise in new cases, including in the U.K., Spain, Italy, France, Germany and the Netherlands.

Belgium has a death rate of 886.83 per one million people, the highest among European Union (EU) nations, while Spain has 714.64 fatalities per one million, according to WHO. Both death rates surpass the 650.14 deaths per million people reported in the U.S., as of October 16.

Belgium has the world's third-highest number of deaths per 100,000 people, while Spain has the eighth-highest number of deaths per 100,000, according to the latest report Friday by Johns Hopkins University (JHU).

The U.S. has the 11th-highest number of deaths per 100,000 people in the world, while Italy and Sweden have the world's 14th and 15th-highest number of fatalities per 100,000, respectively, according to JHU.

The death rate in Sweden, where a nationwide lockdown was never imposed, is trailing not far behind that of the U.S., with 584.89 fatalities per million, according to WHO.

COVID-19 deaths per one million in the European Union

Source: World Health Organization, as of October 16

  1. Belgium: 886.83
  2. Spain: 714.64
  3. Italy: 600.2
  4. Sweden: 584.89
  5. France: 502.19
  6. Netherlands: 388.83
  7. Ireland: 371.62
  8. Romania: 291.15
  9. Luxembourg: 212.47
  10. Portugal: 207.62
  11. Bulgaria: 133.7
  12. Denmark: 116.54
  13. Germany: 115.89
  14. Czech Republic: 109.44
  15. Hungary: 108.9
  16. Malta: 99.65
  17. Austria: 98.6 deaths
  18. Poland: 85
  19. Croatia: 81.36
  20. Slovenia: 71.19
  21. Finland: 63.17
  22. Estonia: 51.26
  23. Greece: 45
  24. Lithuania: 40.04
  25. Latvia: 21.74
  26. Cyprus: 20.71
  27. Slovakia: 12.09

The weekly death count across WHO's Europe region has been rising consistently since late August, peaking in the week commencing October 5, when 6,396 fatalities were reported. Before that, weekly new deaths in Europe declined from early April to early June before flattening out. The weekly death toll in the U.S. declined from mid-April to late June before flattening out.

Several European nations have imposed partial lockdowns and other measures following a recent increase in new infections. Weekly new cases in Europe increased by 42 percent in the week commencing October 5 from the previous week, according to WHO. The region reported 217,211 cases from October 5 to 11, with its total case tally reported to be at 7,406,193, as of Friday.

Madrid Spain coronavirus protests September 2020
Protesters in the Usera neighborhood of Madrid demonstrating against new COVID-19 restrictions, pictured on September 20. The COVID-19 death rate in Spain has surpassed that reported in the U.S. Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images

The wider picture

The novel coronavirus has infected more than 39 million people across the globe since it was first reported in Wuhan, China, including over 7.9 million in the U.S. Globally, more than a million have died following infection, while more than 26.9 million have reportedly recovered as of Friday, according to JHU.

The graphic below, provided by Statista, illustrates countries with the most COVID-19 cases.

countries covid 10 oct 13

Uncommon Knowledge

Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.

Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.

About the writer

Soo Kim is a Newsweek SEO Reporter is based in London, UK. She reports on various trends and lifestyle stories, from health, fitness and travel to psychology, relationships and family issues. She is also a South Korea expert who regularly covers Korean culture/entertainment for Newsweek, including the latest K-dramas, films and K-pop news, and is the author of the book How to Live Korean, which is available in eight languages. Soo also covered the COVID-19 pandemic extensively from 2020 through 2021 after joining the general news desk of Newsweek in 2019 from the Daily Telegraph (a U.K. national newspaper) where she was a travel reporter/editor from 2010. She is a graduate of Binghamton University in New York and the journalism school of City University in London, where she earned a Masters in international journalism. Languages spoken: English and Korean.

Follow her on Twitter at @MissSooKim or Instagram at

You can get in touch with Soo by emailing

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