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Taking the pulse on all-cause mortality

Closer look at possible reasons behind rise in mortality

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David Heller

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David Heller

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David analyzes the conventional view and delivers clear fact-based articles

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September 06, 2022

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09:03 AM

Taking the pulse on all-cause mortality

There has been recent talk about the rise in all-cause mortality in the alternative press. Most mainstream news outlets have simply ignored the topic, being consistent with the claim that COVID vaccination has kept COVID under control.  

A notable exception is the UK's Daily Telegraph, which reported on a silent crisis of soaring excess deaths and attributed the rise to the lockdowns. During the lockdowns hospitals and medical clinics were diagnosing and treating illnesses far less.  As a result, illnesses such as cancer and heart disease got worse, and now the UK is seeing the results. 

During 14 of the past 15 weeks, England and Wales have averaged around 1,000 extra non-COVID related deaths each week, reported the Telegraph. Blaming the excess deaths on the lockdown makes a lot of sense at first glance since it is well established that lockdowns cause significant damage to people's health.

Sweden

To assess the effectiveness or damage caused by lockdowns, Sweden can be viewed as a natural control group, since Sweden was the only European country that did not impose drastic lockdown measures. From the graph below it is fairly clear that excess mortality in Sweden is significantly lower than the European average after the very first few months of the pandemic.

Source: https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/en/web/products-eurostat-news/-/ddn-20220615-2

In general, it would be reasonable to conclude that lockdowns are responsible for some of the excess deaths we're seeing in 2020 – 2022. However, we would expect them to be somewhat evenly spread out over the months.  Lockdowns would not account for the spikes in all-cause mortality.  

Another possible cause for the rise in excess mortality is the COVID vaccine. We'll now examine a number of other countries' experiences and see if there is a connection.     

The Netherlands

One study in the Netherlands looked at how much the COVID vaccination affected overall mortality. This is an important question since vaccination may reduce 'COVID deaths', a term that has an imprecise and overly broad definition, but it may also increase death from other causes. So looking at mortality from all causes can help give a clearer picture.   

The study charted excess deaths, COVID deaths, vaccinations, and at the bottom the corresponding z-score.  

Source: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/361818561_Covid-19_vaccinations_and_all-cause_mortality_-a_long-term_differential_analysis_among_municipalities Page 6

The study's authors stated that "we could not observe a mortality-reducing effect of vaccination in Dutch municipalities after vaccination and booster campaigns. We did find a 4-sigma-significant mortality-enhancing effect during the two periods of high unexplained excess mortality.

Meaning, that the vaccination campaign was not associated with a reduction in overall mortality, but instead was associated with a significant rise in mortality beyond what was attributed to "COVID deaths" (see the two periods labelled "excess" on the right side of the above graph) 

The study shows that the COVID vaccines failed at saving lives and may have even caused more deaths. The study concludes, "Our main result remains alarming and calls for more research on the effect of current covid vaccines on all-cause mortality."

Cyprus

The Netherlands' experience is not unique. A study of Cyprus' all-cause mortality found the same thing. 

Based on our data analysis, we observed a substantial increase of 9.7% in all-cause mortality in Cyprus in 2021 compared to 2020, with an overall mortality increase of 16.5% in 2021 compared to the mean mortality of the previous five years. Particularly, we documented a sharp increase over the third and fourth quarters of the year 2021.

The study concludes, 

the substantial increase in mortality in Cyprus in 2021 is not entirely explained by COVID-19 deaths and is parallel to the concurrent vaccination campaign. This concerning observation should be comprehensively investigated by the National and European public health authorities to identify and address the underlying causes.

Australia

Australia provides an interesting situation since it vaccinated about 75% of its population months before its first major wave of COVID. That the vaccine did not prevent the wave, nor the subsequent deaths that were attributed to COVID, should not be overlooked. 

The Australian data below show that all-cause mortality was 9% higher than baseline according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics following the vaccination campaign, but before the COVID wave that followed. 

The elevated all-cause mortality increased through the summer months peaking at 23% during the COVID wave in Jan 2021 (summer in Australia). Despite the reduction of COVID infections in April, all-cause mortality was still 14% above baseline until May 2022 – the last month with available data. 

Source: https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/health/causes-death/provisional-mortality-statistics/latest-release

Germany

Just last week a new study looked at the excess mortality in Germany since the start of the pandemic. It started by explaining the need for such a study. As mentioned above the designation of "COVID death" is very ambiguous, however, the study cites autopsies showing that about 86% of COVID deaths actually died of COVID.  The rest were from other causes. 

"For the pandemic years 2020 and 2021, it is clear that the number of deaths has been influenced directly and indirectly by COVID-19. First, clearly, there has been a serious number of COVID-19 deaths, either as the only reason for death or in combination with several other causes. . . . Second, the vaccination campaign which started in 2021 should be visible in reduced excess mortality, or even better as a mortality deficit."

Here's what the study found.

Excess deaths during the months of March and April of 2021 increased dramatically without much accompanying "COVID deaths". What caused this increase? Later in October - December there is an increase in both excess mortality and "COVID deaths" however it is the first time since the start of the pandemic that excess deaths are consistently higher than "COVID deaths".

In nearly all months, across all ages, the blue lines ("COVID deaths") are the same or equal to the red lines (excess deaths). That changed in the fall of 2021. The same question remains – what caused the jump in excess deaths to even surpass "COVID deaths"?  

The paper further points out that "maybe [the] most surprising fact is that the second year produces in all age groups a significant mortality increase, which is in sharp contrast to the expectation that the vaccination should decrease the number of COVID-19 deaths. The only exception is the last age group (80, ∞), wherein the first year a large number of excess deaths was observed." 

What happened in the spring and then the fall of 2021?

The study looked at one of the obvious events that took place in 2021 – the mass COVID vaccination campaign. In the graph below there are three important observations. 

The first is that excess mortality in January dropped dramatically before mass vaccination. The second observation is that excess mortality rose dramatically at the same time as the first dose was given. The final observation is that it happened again with the third dose in October-December.  

"The following graph illustrates that the deviation of the observed mortality from the expected mortality is not uniform over the different age groups, and in particular, the structure changes from 2020 to 2021. A closer look reveals that the excess mortality observed in 2021 is almost entirely due to an above-average increase in deaths in the age groups between 15 and 79. The highest values are reached in the age group 40-49, where an increase in the number of deaths is observed that is nine percent higher than the expected values."

This paper used a "state-of-the-art method of actuarial science" to set the expected all-cause mortality in 2020 and 2021 and see if there is a difference between what was expected and what actually occurred. 

The paper concludes that, "In 2020, the observed number of deaths was close to the expected number with respect to the empirical standard deviation. By contrast, in 2021, the observed number of deaths was two empirical standard deviations above the expected number."

To put that in context, "A bound of 2.24 times the standard deviation leads to a 2.5% confidence interval, which roughly speaking means that this event occurs 2-3 times every hundred years." 

Put differently, 97.5% of the time we would expect a lower number of deaths.   

The discussion surrounding the cause of increased mortality since the launch of the COVID vaccine is unlikely to end soon. Mainstream observers might point to COVID which somehow causes death months after infection. Sceptics will likely keep analyzing the data to see what role lockdowns or the COVID vaccine play in heightened excess mortality. Clearly though, the vaccines have not reduced excess mortality as mainstream experts asserted it would.  

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