Estimating the severity of COVID-19: Evidence from the Italian epicenter

PLoS One. 2020 Oct 1;15(10):e0239569. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0239569. eCollection 2020.


We provide results on the level of COVID-19 excess mortality in the Italian region of Lombardy and in the province of Bergamo using official and original data sources. Since February 2020 Lombardy and in particular the province of Bergamo have been severely hit by the novel COVID-19 infectious disease. Combining official statistics, retrospective data and original data (i.e., obituaries and death notices) we provide a tentative estimate of the number of deaths either directly or indirectly, associated with COVID-19 as well as the total number of persons infected. Our findings suggest that the reported number of deaths attributable to COVID-19 identified by public authorities accounts only for one half of the observed excess mortality between March 2020 and previous years.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Betacoronavirus
  • COVID-19
  • Coronavirus Infections / mortality*
  • Disease Notification / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mortality / trends*
  • Pandemics
  • Pneumonia, Viral / mortality*
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Young Adult

Grants and funding

The authors received no specific funding for this work.