EU COVID-19 Healthcare Pressure Indications


European countries have been facing enormous pressure on their healthcare systems resulting from exponential increases in the number of active COVID-19 cases and COVID-19 related deaths. The healthcare system in Italy was found to be close to overloaded on March 11. We calculate the relative pressure on healthcare systems by analyzing the proportion of COVID-19 related deaths in the past 21 days (intensity approach) and COVID-19 active cases (magnitude approach) in real-time relative to the number of hospital beds, number of physicians, and healthcare expenditure, in European countries. Additionally, we added composite measures looking at healthcare workers and the number of critical care beds combined. We normalize the results to a benchmark situation representing the number of cumulative deaths (827), and number of active cases (10 590), in Italy on March 11. As such, when a country scores 1 on a specific indicator, this read as: “currently similar pressure as in Italy on March 11 according to this indicator”. A score of 2 means that the healthcare pressure on the base capacity in this country is currently twice as large as in Italy on March 11, and so on. We compared the healthcare pressure of European countries to this benchmark situation for different measures, the results of which can be found on this website. Note that we compare these countries by their base capacity, while clearly many countries have expanded their base capacity to differing degrees (e.g. additional beds, mobilizing volunteers or retired health care workers). We therefore will track at which relative pressure individual countries can no langer handle the volume of critical patients and which pressure on their base capacity they experience at the peak. Note also that we do not account for health care workers’ incapacitation from COVID-19 or other causes as the epidemic unfolds.


Frederik Verelst (University of Antwerp)
Elise Kuylen (University of Antwerp, Hasselt University)
Philippe Beutels (University of Antwerp)

SIMID website


This work is funded by the Epipose project from the European Union’s SC1- PHE-CORONAVIRUS-2020 programme, project number 101003688