Objectives: In Japan, several studies have reported no excess all-cause deaths (the difference between the observed and expected number of deaths) during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic in 2020. This study aimed to estimate the weekly excess deaths in Japan's 47 prefectures for 2021 until June 27. Study design: Vital statistical data on deaths were obtained from the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare of Japan. For this analysis, we used data from January 2012 to June 2021. Methods: A quasi-Poisson regression was used to estimate the expected weekly number of deaths. Excess deaths were expressed as the range of differences between the observed and expected number of all-cause deaths and the 95% upper bound of the one-sided prediction interval. Results: Since January 2021, excess deaths were observed for the first time in the week corresponding to April 12–18 and have continued through mid-June, with the highest excess percentage occurring in the week corresponding to May 31–June 6 (excess deaths: 1431–2587; excess percentage: 5.95–10.77%). Similarly, excess deaths were observed in consecutive weeks from April to June 2021 in 18 of 47 prefectures. Conclusions: For the first time since February 2020, when the first COVID-19 death was reported in Japan, excess deaths possibly related to COVID-19 were observed in April 2021 in Japan, during the fourth wave. This may reflect the deaths of non-infected people owing to the disruption that the pandemic has caused.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health