Ukraine marks the grim tally of 100,000 dead of COVID-19 as the arrival of Omicron has led to record numbers of cases – but how does Ukraine match up against its neighbors?

Less than two years after confirming its first case of COVID-19, today Ukraine marks its 100,000th death from the disease.

As Ukraine deals with a record-breaking, post-holiday Omicron spike, the country becomes the 15th nation in the world to reach this grim milestone.

Even as the country deals with record case numbers that are expected to grow, the newest wave in Ukraine is different from those before thanks to an increasingly effective vaccination campaign.

We predict that there will be at least twice as many cases as we had in October-November of 2021

said Ukrainian Health Minister Viktor Lyashko, referring to the most recent peak of nearly 28,500 cases/day.

“At the same time, there will be fewer hospitalisations [and] the number of [COVID] deaths should also be less. This is because the number of immunised Ukrainians has significantly increased due to vaccination and because the Omicron strain … is less aggressive.”


While the case numbers may be at record highs, Ukraine’s death tally remains much lower than its peak of 848 in November 2021. In a week where the daily case count set records on four consecutive days, fewer Ukrainians died of COVID-19 over the last seven days – 825.

100,000 deaths are a stark reminder of how serious the pandemic remains, but how does the COVID death rate in Ukraine compare to its neighbours?

Ukraine Faring Better Than its Neighbours

In the number of total deaths, Ukraine is the 15th country worldwide to hit 100,000 COVID deaths. The United States was the first, taking just four months to cross the 100,000 mark in May 2020.

Ukraine becomes the seventh European country to pass the lamentable milestone, after Russia, the UK, Italy, France, Germany, and Poland.

But absolute deaths are generally tied to population size. Ukraine stands out in Central and Eastern Europe when it comes to death rate per capita.

According to Statista, Ukraine has the 24th highest COVID death rate per million in the world, with 17 European nations facing more difficult COVID realities.


Looking at a map of Europe, Ukraine stands above its European neighbors when it comes to death rate per capita.

Ukraine’s death rate per capita is lower than 17 other European nations: Armenia, Belgium, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czechia, Georgia, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, North Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia.

The Omicron Test

The arrival of Omicron ahead of Ukraine’s long holiday season, marked by travel and revelry with family and friends, has led to an unprecedented surge in post-holiday COVID cases in Ukraine.

Ukraine has set records all week – 32,393 on Jan. 26; 34,408 on Jan. 27; and 37,351 yesterday, Jan. 28.

The caseload is expected to grow, with estimates as high as 70,000 cases per day.

Speaking to the Ukrainian parliament earlier this week, Mykhailo Radutsky, the chair of the parliamentary committee on health, gave a worst-case scenario.

For the next two or three weeks, we will have more than 60,000 to 70,000 patients per day

The National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine uses statistical models to predict caseloads. While its estimates are lower than Radutsky’s, they still represent a spike not seen before in Ukraine.


In a report based on its models published earlier this week, the Academy estimates a caseload of not more than 52,651 cases/day, with a median case prediction of 32,055 cases/day.

Even with the record cases, the death rate is down from the last spike, in October-November 2021. As Ukraine set a record for cases on Friday, 149 people died of the disease – an 82.4% decrease from November.

Vaccinations Way Up

As Lyashko rightly pointed out, the impact of Omicron will be lessened by Ukraine’s successful ramp-up of its vaccination campaign.

Ukraine has now fully vaccinated nearly half its eligible population, with 15,306,057 receiving at least one dose; 14,600,434 receiving two doses, and over 320,000 receiving a booster shot.

This is a significant increase from November when the government announced that all fully vaccinated citizens of Ukraine would receive Hr. 1,000. At the time, less than one-third of Ukrainians were vaccinated.

The vaccination campaign is in full swing. More than 80,000 Ukrainians were vaccinated on Jan.28 alone, according to the Ukrainian Ministry of Health.

The vaccine campaign is saving lives, says Lyashko.

According to mathematical modelling, vaccination has saved 18,000 lives in Ukraine

he told the Verkhovna Rada this week.

“This is as many as those Ukrainian citizens that died of the coronavirus disease in the first year of the pandemic.”

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