Evaluation of the virulence of SARS-CoV-2 in France, from all-cause mortality 1946-2020
by D.G. Rancourt, Maurine Baudin, Jérémie Mercier
Technical Report (PDF Available)
· August 2020 with
We analyzed historic and recent all-cause mortality data for France, and other jurisdictions
for comparison, using model fitting to quantify winter-burden deaths, and deaths from exceptional
events. In this way, COVID-19 is put in historic perspective. We prove that the "COVID-peak" feature
that is present in the all-cause mortality data of certain mid-latitude Northern hemisphere jurisdictions,
including France, cannot be a natural epidemiological event occurring in the absence of a large non-
We are certain that this "COVID-peak" is artificial because it:
i. occurs sharply (one-month width) at an unprecedented location in the seasonal cycle of all-cause
mortality (centered at the end of March),
2 ii. is absent in many jurisdictions (34 of the USA States have no "COVID-peak"), and iii. varies widely
in magnitude from jurisdiction to jurisdiction in which it occurs.
We suggest that:
• the unprecedented strict mass quarantine and isolation of both sick and healthy elderly people, together
and separately, killed many of them,
• that this quarantine and isolation is the cause of the "COVID-peak" event that we have quantified,
• and that the medical mechanism is mainly via psychological stress and social isolation of individuals
with health vulnerabilities.
According to our calculations, this caused some 30.2 K deaths in France in March and April 2020.
However, even including the "COVID-peak", the 2019-2020 winter-burden all-cause mortality is not
statistically larger than usual. Therefore SARS-CoV-2 is not an unusually virulent viral respiratory
disease pathogen. By analyzing the all-cause mortality data from 1946 to 2020, we also identified
a large and steady increase in all-cause mortality that began in approximately 2008, which is too
large to be explained by population growth in the relevant age structure, and which may be related
to the economic crash of 2008 and its long-term societal consequences.