Australia: Excess deaths in 2022 ‘incredibly high’ at 13 per cent; the Australian government should be urgently investigating the “incredibly high” 13 per cent excess death rate in 2022, the country’s
by Paul Alexander
peak actuarial body says; an extra 15,400 people died in first eight months of the year, according to new analysis of Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS); one-third of those have no link to COVID
‘The Australian government should be urgently investigating the “incredibly high” 13 per cent excess death rate in 2022, the country’s peak actuarial body says.
An extra 15,400 people died in the first eight months of the year, according to new analysis of Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data by the Actuaries Institute, with around one-third of those having no link to Covid.
Karen Cutter, an actuary of more than 25 years and spokeswoman for the institute’s Covid-19 Mortality Working Group, said 13 per cent was an “incredibly high number for mortality” and that it was “not clear” what was driving the increase.
“Mortality doesn’t normally vary by more than 1 to 2 per cent, so 13 per cent is way higher than normal levels,” she said.
“I’m not aware [of anything comparable] in the recent past but I haven’t gone back and looked [historically]. They talk about the flu season of 2017 being really bad, and the mortality there was 1 per cent higher than normal. So it’s well outside the range of normal.”
She added, “In addition to Covid-19 deaths, there are significant numbers of non-Covid deaths – it is not clear what is causing these as there are many factors at play.”
Possible causes of non-Covid excess deaths in Australia. Source: Actuaries Institute
Actuaries are behind-the-scenes data experts who specialise in analysing risk – and one of their key focuses is mortality statistics.
“Looking at mortality and how that might be different from expectations is part of the core of what we do,” Ms Cutter said.
“A lot of insurance products rely on mortality assumptions – life insurance, death and disability, superannuation – it crosses over a lot of things. Similarly with morbidity. I tell my friends we do all the maths behind insurance.”
While sounding the alarm was one thing, Ms Cutter said what happened next was a “very good question”.
“I think the government should be looking at it – I don’t know to what extent they are or not, I don’t know what kind of investigations are underway,” she said.
“The AIHW [Australian Institute of Health and Welfare] is the Australian body tasked with investigating and reporting on the health of the Australian population, so part of it probably falls under their remit. I don’t know what they’re doing.”
A spokeswoman for AIHW said, “The AIHW does not routinely report on excess mortality.”
Ms Cutter noted the Australian parliament was currently holding an inquiry into “Long Covid”, but that excess mortality likely fell outside the committee’s terms of reference.
“Covid’s such a new thing, there’s just so much research going on, new papers coming out all the time,” she said.
“I feel like somebody should be doing something – but I don’t know who and what.”’