DOI: 10.1111/risa.14259 ISSN: 0272-4332

Lessons from the COVID‐19 pandemic: Mortality impacts in Poland versus European Union

Zbigniew W. Kundzewicz, Kristie L. Ebi, Jerzy Duszyński
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality


With COVID‐19 moving toward an endemic phase, it is worthwhile to identify lessons from the pandemic that can promote the effective strengthening of national health systems. We look at a single country, Poland, and compare it with the European Union (EU) to contrast approaches and outcomes. Among possible relevant indices, we examine characteristics of COVID‐19‐related mortality and excess all‐cause mortality from March 2020 to February 2022. We demonstrate that both the numbers of COVID‐related deaths and all‐cause deaths in Poland were much higher than the EU average for most months in the study period. We juxtapose the percentage of fully vaccinated population and cumulative COVID‐19 deaths per million people for EU Member States and show that typically higher vaccination rates are accompanied by lower mortality. We also show that, in addition to medical science, the use of a risk science toolbox would have been valuable in the management of the COVID‐19 pandemic in Poland. Better and more widespread understanding of risk perception of the pandemic and the COVID‐19 vaccines would have improved managing vaccine hesitancy, potentially leading to more effective pro‐vaccination measures.

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