Dorrucci M, Minelli G, Boros S, Manno V, Prati S, Battaglini M, Corsetti G, Andrianou X, Riccardo F, Fabiani M, Vescio MF, Spuri M, Mateo-Urdiales A, Del Manso M, Pezzotti P, Bella A, Italian Integrated Surveillance COVID-19 Group , Italian Integrated Surveillance COVID-19 group
Ann Ist Super Sanita 58 (1) 25-33 [2022-03-25; online 2022-03-25]
To assess the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on all-cause mortality in Italy during the first wave of the epidemic, taking into consideration the geographical heterogeneity of the spread of COVID-19. This study is a retrospective, population-based cohort study using national statistics throughout Italy. Survival analysis was applied to data aggregated by day of death, age groups, sex, and Italian administrative units (107 provinces). We applied Cox models to estimate the relative hazards (RH) of excess mortality, comparing all-cause deaths in 2020 with the expected deaths from all causes in the same time period. The RH of excess deaths was estimated in areas with a high, moderate, and low spread of COVID-19. We reported the estimate also restricting the analysis to the period of March-April 2020 (first peak of the epidemic). The study population consisted of 57,204,501 individuals living in Italy as of January 1, 2020. The number of excess deaths was 36,445, which accounts for 13.4% of excess mortalities from all causes during January-May 2020 (i.e., RH = 1.134; 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.129-1.140). In the macro-area with a relatively higher spread of COVID-19 (i.e., incidence rate, IR): 450-1,610 cases per 100,000 residents), the RH of excess deaths was 1.375 (95% CI: 1.364-1.386). In the area with a relatively moderate spread of COVID-19 (i.e., IR: 150-449 cases) it was 1.049 (95% CI: 1.038-1.060). In the area with a relatively lower spread of COVID-19 (i.e., IR: 30-149 cases), it was 0.967 (95% CI: 0.959-0.976). Between March and April (peak months of the first wave of the epidemic in Italy), we estimated an excess mortality from all causes of 43.5%. The RH of all-cause mortality for increments of 500 cases per 100,000 residents was 1.352 (95% CI: 1.346-1.359), corresponding to an increase of about 35%. Our analysis, making use of a population-based cohort model, estimated all-cause excess mortality in Italy taking account of both time period and of COVID-19 geographical spread. The study highlights the importance of a temporal/geographic framework in analyzing the risk of COVID-19-epidemy related mortality.