Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Ukrainian mortality, 2020–2021

Neil K. Mehta, Ihor Honchar, Olena Doroshenko, Khrystyna Pak, Mariia Daniuk, Pavlo Polikarchuk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The mortality impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in Ukraine has remained incomplete. We estimated excess deaths associated with the pandemic in Ukraine during 2020 and 2021. Excess deaths may be attributed directly to SARS-CoV-2 infection or indirectly to deaths associated with social and economic upheavals resulting from the pandemic. Data on all deaths registered in government-controlled Ukraine from 2016–2021 (N = 3,657,475) were utilized. Using a model-based approach, we predicted monthly excess deaths in 2020 and 2021. We estimated 47,578 excess deaths in 2020 as a whole (7.71% of all recorded deaths). This figure reflects both positive (higher than expected) excess deaths from June-December and negative (lower than expected) deaths in January and March-May. From June-December 2020, we estimated 59,363 excess deaths (15.75% of all recorded deaths in those months). In 2021, we estimated 150,049 excess deaths (21.01% of all recorded deaths). Positive excess deaths were detected across age groups even groups younger than 40 years. The number of excess deaths exceeded that of deaths with COVID-19 coded on the death certificate by more than two-fold in 2020, but that difference narrowed in 2021. We furthermore provide provisional estimates of the effect of low vaccine coverage on excess deaths in 2021 drawing from European cross-national evidence and provisional estimates of the hypothetical evolution of the pandemic in 2022 to serve as a rough basis for future studies analyzing the joint impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russian invasion on Ukrainian demography.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0285950
JournalPloS one
Issue number5 May
StatePublished - May 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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