Vaccine roll-out and excess deaths: causation or correlation? Australians deserve to know
Mortality in 2021 was in line with 2020 in all states, before increasing after the vaccine roll- out commenced.
by Steven Keyte
Australia’s COVID-19 vaccine roll-out kicked off in March 2021 and began to gain momentum in April. Deaths in January, February and March 2021 were in line with 2020, but significantly higher from May to October.
This pattern is present in all states, regardless of the prevalence of COVID-19 and lockdowns.
States with a faster vaccine rollout have an earlier peak in excess deaths vs 2020 and faster return to 2020 levels, compared to states with slower roll-outs
• The increased death emerges prominently first in the 85+, then 75-84, then 65-74. If the vaccines are leading to increased deaths, this is what we might expect with aged care being first in vaccine roll-out. The pattern is less clear in younger age groups.
By cause of death:
Respiratory deaths and COVID-19 made a small contribution to the increase
Other major causes (Cancer, Ischaemic heart disease, Cerebrovascular disease, Dementia and Diabetes) contributed significantly from May to August
Other (non-specified) causes of death made a sustained contribution from April to October, and appear to be returning to 2020 levels in November
If there are any direct / acute vaccine deaths, we would expect them to emerge immediately and persist for the entire roll-out (which is what we see). If there is an effect of the vaccines to increase the risk of death from other chronic illnesses, we might expect these to emerge a little later, be most prominent older age groups and thus be less prominent once the roll-out moves to younger people (which is what we see).
Source: https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/health/causes-death/provisional-mortality-statistics (Australian and state death data), https://www.covid19data.com.au/vaccines (vaccine data), https://www.covid19data.com.au/deaths (COVID-19 death data).
Nationally, monthly deaths in 2021 were in line with 2020 until the vaccine roll-out started to gain momentum. Then, from May to Oct, there were an average of 988 more deaths each month in 2021 than 2020.
Increased deaths from respiratory disease and COVID-19 contributed to higher mortality in 2021; but aside from October when there was significant COVID-19 death, this was a relatively small contribution.
Major causes* aside from respiratory diseases contributed more significantly to increased mortality, particularly from May to August when they contributed an average of 467 more deaths per month in 2021 than in 2020.
Deaths from other (non-specified) causes in 2021 separated from 2020 shortly after the roll-out commenced, rather than a month later as with deaths from major causes, and remained substantially higher until October, rather than returning to 2020 levels after August.
In summary, deaths from causes other than the 6 major causes and COVID make the largest sustained contribution to excess deaths during the vaccine roll-out, with major causes contributing in the early months of the roll-out.
Mortality in 2021 was in line with 2020 in all states, before increasing after the vaccine roll-out commenced. It even appears that states with a faster roll-out had an earlier peak in excess deaths than states with a slower roll-out.
Increased mortality in 2021 relative to 2020 is most prominent in demographics over 85. There is a trend for increased mortality to start first in the oldest age groups. There may be some increased death in younger people but the data is noisy.
Written by Steven Keyte