The social patterning of mortality during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in Belgium [Gadeyne et al. 2021]

The International Journal for Equity in Health published Belgian research by Gadeyne and colleagues, focussing on social differences in excess mortality during the first wave of the COVID-19 crisis. The study builds on the individual-level linkage between the Belgian National Register, the 2011 administrative census and the tax register. Mortality patterns between the 9th of March 2020 and the 17th of May 2020 were compared to the same weeks in 2015-2019. Excess mortality was investigated in light of potential differences in i.a. educational attainment, income, household living arrangement and migrant background.

The study shows that the social patterning during the first COVID‐19 wave was exceptional. Excess mortality did not follow the classic lines of higher mortality in lower classes and patterns were not always consistent. Compared to the prepandemic mortality, differences in relative inequalities were generally small and insignificant, except by household living arrangement. 

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Prof. dr. Brecht Devleesschauwer

Sciensano, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, Service Health Information