OBJECTIVES The purpose of this study was to determine predictors of the height of COVID- 19 daily deaths peak and time to the peak, in order to explain their variability across European countries.STUDY DESIGN For 34 European countries, publicly available data were collected on daily numbers of COVID-19 deaths, population size, healthcare capacity, government restrictions and their timing, tourism and change in mobility during the pandemic.METHODS Univariate and multivariate generalised linear models using different selection algorithms (forward, backward, stepwise and genetic algorithm) were analysed with height of COVID-19 daily deaths peak and time to the peak as dependent variables.RESULTS The proportion of the population living in urban areas, mobility at the day of first reported death and number of infections when borders were closed were assessed as significant predictors of the height of COVID-19 daily deaths peak. Testing the model with variety of selection algorithms provided consistent results. Total hospital bed capacity, population size, number of foreign travellers and day of border closure, were found as significant predictors of time to COVID-19 daily deaths peak.CONCLUSIONS Our analysis demonstrated that countries with higher proportions of the population living in urban areas, with lower reduction in mobility at the beginning of the pandemic, and countries which closed borders having more infected people experienced higher peak of COVID-19 deaths. Greater bed capacity, bigger population size and later border closure could result in delaying time to reach the deaths peak, whereas a high number of foreign travellers could accelerate it.Competing Interest StatementThe authors have declared no competing interest.Funding StatementThis research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.Author DeclarationsI confirm all relevant ethical guidelines have been followed, and any necessary IRB and/or ethics committee approvals have been obtained.YesThe details of the IRB/oversight body that provided approval or exemption for the research described are given below:Not applicableAll necessary patient/participant consent has been obtained and the appropriate institutional forms have been archived.YesI understand that all clinical trials and any other prospective interventional studies must be registered with an ICMJE-approved registry, such as ClinicalTrials.gov. I confirm that any such study reported in the manuscript has been registered and the trial registration ID is provided (note: if posting a prospective study registered retrospectively, please provide a statement in the trial ID field explaining why the study was not registered in advance).YesI have followed all appropriate research reporting guidelines and uploaded the relevant EQUATOR Network research reporting checklist(s) and other pertinent material as supplementary files, if applicable.YesThe authors confirm that the data supporting the findings of this study are available within the article and its supplementary materials.