COVID-19 Mortality - Epidemiological surveillance of COVID-19 mortality

Last updated on 14-12-2022 by Pierre Daubresse
March 1, 2020
Project with no end date

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In short

Mortality is a key indicator for the surveillance of the COVID-19 epidemic, by informing health authorities and the general public about the course and the severity of the COVID-19 epidemic in Belgium. However, the standard registration procedure of the specific causes of death through death certificates is typically a 2 to 3-year process in Belgium. For this reason, an ad hoc surveillance of COVID-19 deaths was established to respond to this public health emergency. 

Project summary

The epidemiological surveillance of COVID-19 mortality was put into place to acquire real-time COVID-19 mortality data and to monitor the severity of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. As illustrated in Figure 1, the surveillance combines information on COVID-19 related deaths from three places of death (in hospitals, in long-term care facilities and in the community), using the hospital surveillance (surge capacity survey), the nursing home surveillance, and notifications of deaths to regional health inspection authorities. The data flow is conducted through nine different channels depending on the type of place of death and the territory where the death occurred.
Sciensano collects, verifies, validates and consolidates these data at the national level and ensures the analysis and publication of the COVID-19 related deaths.
Sciensano makes the information on the epidemiological evolution of the COVID-19 epidemic in Belgium available to health authorities, to scientists and to the general public. Policy makers use it to take appropriate support actions. The results of the mortality and other surveillances also allow for (inter)national comparative analyses in cooperation with other researchers.

Figure 1: Dataflow of the epidemiological surveillance of COVID-19 mortality

AViQ: Agence pour une Vie de qualité; AZG: Agentschap Zorg en Gezondheid; BXL: Brussels-Capital Region; COCOM: Commission Communautaire Commune de la Région de Bruxelles-Capitale; COVID-19: coronavirus disease; FLA: Flanders; GSC: German-speaking Community; LTCF: long-term care facilities; WAL: Wallonia.

The yellow line represents the exchanges between COCOM and the nursing homes for data quality before sending the data to Sciensano.

  • Tools: The data platforms used were different for each territory.
  • Belnet FileSender: national platform for secure data transmission);
  • e-loket: specific online tool for AZG;
  • LimeSurvey;
  • Matra website: specific online tool from Sciensano;
  • Plasma: specific online tool for AViQ.

Associated publications

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