There are minimisers who spread misinformation, like butter on hot toast. And yes, it can sink in and spread further. One of these piles of melted fat ridiculously claims that excess deaths align with the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines. It takes a Herculean level of deliberate denial to skip over the true alignment here – the one with waves of COVID-19 disease. Let’s explore another piece of evidence that further cools the toast (I’ve gone too far with this, haven’t I?); Australia.
Vaccination was associated with fewer deaths
A person on Twitter, in response to a graph I made showing that COVID-19 hospitalisation peaks are driven by constantly renewing SARS-CoV-2 variants, said, “first wave curve concurrent with mass vaccination it seems”.
So let’s look at that claim.
Data from the COVID-19 Mortality Working Group at the Actuaries Digital arm of the Actuaries Institute Australia show that during Australian lockdown periods, deaths were below what was predicted for the period when vaccination was ongoing. This is shown by the blue-grey line dipping below the zero horizon in the figure below.
This was a time when borders were closed to most travellers, and those who did arrive were placed into quarantine at the border. Travel was also mostly restricted between the States and Territories within Australia. In fact, during these closures, excess deaths fell well below the expected levels, especially around winter 2020 and 2021 when influenza viruses had also been shut out by the absence of infected travellers and internal travel.
As soon as vaccines were available locally (this lagged other parts of the world due to political disorganization), Australia began vaccinating its population en masse.
Over 80% of Australians over 12 years of age had received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine by mid-November 2021.
During this time of mass vaccination, there was no signal of excess death due to vaccination. However, when international borders began opening up, starting from the 21st of October 2021, then at a much large scale on the 21st of February 2022, the influx of inevitably infected cases and then hospitalisations began to increase. See the graph below for a few key time points.
It’s shown very clearly by data presented in the first two images above, that excess deaths were below the expected level during the vaccination period. However, once the “let it rip” phase began, excess deaths began to occur in proportion to the wild and widespread community transmission of SARS-CoV-2.
There most definitely was a new cause of above-average deaths, and, for at least half of those with obvious data, its name was SARS-CoV-2.
To prevent this level of “excess” death from becoming part of a revised baseline of death in the future, we could do things to prevent the transmission of respiratory viruses like SARS-CoV-2, influenza, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), human metapneumovirus (hMPV) and others and to reduce the dose of virus, if we do manage to get infected. Those goals could be achieved by an aggregate of:
- Purifying the air in places where people – including children – congregate
- Wearing tight-fitting N95/P2 masks (also called ‘respirators’)