Non-COVID deaths are up a significant amount this year. What’s driving the increase?

Link: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-08-08/non-covid-deaths-are-up-a-significant-amount-this-year/101309930

Excerpt:

There were an additional 4,000 non-COVID deaths, or a five per cent increase, in the first four months this year, compared with the pre-pandemic average.

The director of the Mortality Data Centre at the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Lauren Moran, said among the additional 4,000 deaths, more people died of chronic diseases compared to similar periods prior to the pandemic.

“We can see that for dementia, there’s been around a 20 per cent increase this year of the total number of deaths when we compare it to prior years, and around 18 per cent higher than expected for diabetes,” she said.

Ms Moran said that while some of the increase could be put down to natural variation and increases with an ageing population, the deaths are statistically significant and confirm a trend that began late last year.

Author(s): Annie Guest

Publication Date: 8 Aug 2022

Publication Site: Australian Broadcasting Commission News

Excess mortality in England

Link: https://app.powerbi.com/view?r=eyJrIjoiYmUwNmFhMjYtNGZhYS00NDk2LWFlMTAtOTg0OGNhNmFiNGM0IiwidCI6ImVlNGUxNDk5LTRhMzUtNGIyZS1hZDQ3LTVmM2NmOWRlODY2NiIsImMiOjh9

Data download:

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The numbers of expected deaths are estimated using statistical models and based on previous 5 years’ (2015 to 2019) mortality rates. Weekly monitoring of excess mortality from all causes throughout the COVID-19 pandemic provides an objective and comparable measure of the scale of the pandemic [reference 1]. Measuring excess mortality from all causes, instead of focusing solely on mortality from COVID-19, overcomes the issues of variation in testing and differential coding of cause of death between individuals and over time [reference 1].


In the weekly reports, estimates of excess deaths are presented by week of registration at national and subnational level, for subgroups of the population (age groups, sex, deprivation groups, ethnic groups) and by cause of death and place of death.

Author(s): Office for Health Improvement and Disparities

Publication Date: accessed 10 Aug 2022

Publication Site: Public PowerBI dashboard

CMI mortality monitor – week 28 of 2022

Link: https://www.actuaries.org.uk/system/files/field/document/Mortality%20summary%20pandemic%20monitor%20Week%2028%202022%20v01%202022-07-26.pdf

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Data sources
The provisional weekly deaths are available from:
• ONS (England & Wales)
https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/deaths/datasets/wee
klyprovisionalfiguresondeathsregisteredinenglandandwales
• NRS (Scotland)
https://www.nrscotland.gov.uk/covid19stats
• NISRA (Northern Ireland)
https://www.nisra.gov.uk/statistics/death-statistics/weekly-death-registrations-northern-ireland

Author(s): Continuous Mortality Investigation

Publication Date: July 2022

Publication Site: Actuaries UK

Think You’ve Never Had Covid-19? Think Again

Link: https://www.wsj.com/articles/think-youve-never-had-covid-19-think-again-11658741403

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Excerpt:

Dr. Ding is a member of a shrinking club of people who are pretty sure they have never been infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19. Geneticists and immunologists are studying factors that might protect people from infection, and learning why some are predisposed to more severe Covid-19 disease.

For many, the explanation is likely that they have in fact been infected with the virus at some point without realizing it, said Susan Kline, professor of medicine at the University of Minnesota Medical School. About 40% of confirmed Covid-19 cases are asymptomatic, according to a meta-analysis published in December in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

More than two years into the pandemic, most people worldwide have likely been infected with the virus at least once, epidemiologists said. Some 58% of people in the U.S. had contracted Covid-19 through February, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has estimated. Since then, a persistent wave driven by offshoots of the infectious Omicron variant has kept daily known cases in the U.S. above 100,000 for weeks.

Yet some people haven’t gotten sick or tested positive.

Author(s): Julie Wernau

Publication Date: 25 Jul 2022

Publication Site: WSJ

Millennial Massacre Part 2: Increase In Mortality for Ages 18-39 for 2020-2021 Mainly Driven by Drug Overdoses and COVID

Link: https://marypatcampbell.substack.com/p/millennial-massacre-part-2-increase

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Excerpt:

  • About 30% of the contribution to excess mortality for young adults in 2021 came from drug overdoses.
  • The percentage contribution to excess mortality of drug ODs was not that different by age group over the 18-39 age span.
  • COVID as a contribution to excess mortality was higher for older people —- for those age 35-39, 36% of their excess mortality came from COVID in 2021. In contrast, for those age 18-24, only 17% of their excess mortality came from COVID.
  • Indeed, the youngest of the adults (age 18-24) had higher contributions from homicide (20% of excess mortality) and had comparable excess mortality contribution from motor vehicle accidents (16%) in 2021.

Author(s): Mary Pat Campbell

Publication Date: 23 Jul 2022

Publication Site: STUMP at substack

Fact Check: Covid as a Leading Cause of Death in Children

Link: https://www.covid-georgia.com/pediatric-news/fact-check-covid-is-a-leading-cause-of-death-in-children/

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Excerpt:

In the CDC ACIP meeting on June 17 to discuss childhood Covid vaccines, a table was presented showing Covid was a leading cause of death in US children as part of a slide deck on the epidemiology of Covid-19 in children and adolescents by Dr. Katherine Fleming-Dutra. The source was a pre-print written by a group of academics from the UK, including Dr. Deepti Gurdasani, who is well-known on Twitter for her strong views on Covid. I later learned that a very similar slide was also presented at the beginning of the FDA VRBPAC meeting earlier in the week.

The slide was shared on Twitter by Dr. Katelyn Jetelina (“Your Local Epidemiologist”), and retweeted by many influential people including Jerome AdamsJulia Raifman (tweet now deleted), Gregg Gonsalves, and Leana Wen. Only problem? It’s completely and utterly false. The pre-print it’s based on includes significant errors that invalidate the results. And the slide makes additional errors on top of the pre-print. It’s really disturbing that data this poor made its way into the meetings to discuss childhood Covid, and that it took me less that a few minutes to find a major flaw (and then I found many more as I looked deeper). I contacted the study’s corresponding author, Dr. Seth Flaxman, who originally said he’d get back to me on Monday, but responded early Sunday morning to get more information about the source of the Underlying Cause of Death data I used for Covid (the CDC WONDER database, Provisional Mortality Statistics, 2018-present). He later posted on Twitter to say than an updated pre-print would be available soon.

….

The second major issue with the pre-print are the time periods for the deaths. The underlying cause of death data is for a single year – 2019 (more on that later). However, the rankings of Covid deaths by age group in the pre-print include both cumulative (over 26 months) AND annualized deaths for some strange reason. That means Covid is inexplicably ranked twice for each age group.

Below is the table ranking leading causes of death for 15-19 year olds. Notice that Covid is listed both as the 4th AND the 6th leading cause of death. This is non-sensical and extremely misleading. It is completely inappropriate to compare the cumulative number of Covid deaths over 26 months to deaths from other causes over a one year period. The only way to make a fair comparison is to use an annualized number. There’s no good reason the cumulative number of Covid deaths over 26 months should be included on this list at all.

Author(s): Kelley in Georgia

Publication Date: accessed 22 Jun 2022

Publication Site: COVID-19 in Georgia

Essential Terms of the Authority Crisis

Link: https://polimath.substack.com/p/essential-terms-of-the-authority

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Excerpt:

This last week, the CDC held their ACIP meeting to discuss whether or not they should recommend the COVID vaccines for children 6 months to 5 years old. While presenting on the danger of the virus for children, a slide was shown claiming that COVID presented as one of the leading causes of death for children.

Kelley, who runs covid-georgia.com, saw this slide and immediately knew it was false. She has been tracking COVID data in excruciating detail in Georgia since the beginning of the pandemic and has recently become an expert on the CDC’s pediatric death data simply because it was such a disaster and she wanted to get down to the truth of the matter.

This slide above is no small error. Not only did it count the wrong number for pediatric COVID deaths, it compared all pediatric COVID deaths in a 26-month period to annualized deaths from other causes. This is a massive data error, and yet it persisted through a supposedly rigorous data check from 11 authors and was selected by top-tier scientists for their landmark presentation to the most knowledgeable experts in the field.

Author(s): Matt Shapiro

Publication Date: 21 Jun 2022

Publication Site: Marginally Compelling at substack

Visualizing the Coming Shift in Global Economic Power (2006-2036p)

Link: https://www.visualcapitalist.com/shifting-global-economic-power/

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Excerpt:

China is expected to surpass the U.S. by the year 2030. A faster than expected recovery in the U.S. in 2021, and China’s struggles under the “Zero-COVID” policies have delayed the country taking the top spot by about two years.

China has maintained its positive GDP growth due to the stability provided by domestic demand. This has proven crucial in sustaining the country’s economic growth. China’s fiscal and economic policy had focused on this prior to the pandemic over fears of growing Western trade restrictions.

Author(s): Raul Amoros

Publication Date: 13 Jun 2022

Publication Site: Visual Capitalist

What happens when the public health emergency associated with COVID-19 ends?

Link: https://contingencies.org/the-great-unwinding/

Excerpt:

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has now spanned three years. A lot has changed and will continue to change once society and every industry, especially health care, adjusts to the new post-COVID world. With the pandemic, a federal public health emergency (PHE) was declared, and legislation was then passed that had a major impact on how health care is administered from both an operational and financial perspective. Many temporary provisions were put into place that mostly impact Medicaid but ultimately affect all health insurance payers. As we look ahead to a point at which the PHE ends, those temporary provisions start to end in what many in the industry are calling the “unwinding of the PHE.” This article aims to provide an overview of the flexibilities that have been offered as a result of legislation tied to the PHE, examine the impacts of increased Medicaid enrollment, and assess how the risk profile of covered lives for all health insurance payers has changed.

The PHE that has been in effect because of the virus SARS-CoV-2 (which causes the disease COVID-19, or simply COVID), was declared on March 12, 2020, retroactively effective as of Jan. 31, 2020. 

….

Where does this leave us now? At the time of this writing, the PHE is under its ninth renewal (90-day extensions) and is set to expire July 15, 2022. HHS has previously informed states that at least 60 days’ notice will be provided, which means the end of the PHE will occur July 2022 or later. States receive the additional FMAP bump through the end of the quarter in which the PHE ends, which is slated to be Sept. 30, 2022. Before the omicron wave, many thought the PHE would end in early 2022. Popular opinion seems to have shifted to a later time period, with mid-to-late 2022 being the likely end of the PHE. Any continued uncertainty with the pandemic, such as another wave of cases, is likely to extend the PHE.

As we get close to the end of the PHE though, the focus shifts from case counts and test kits to the virus becoming endemic and moving past the PHE. This puts, front and center, the unwinding of all of the operational and financial elements that have been tied to the PHE since FFCRA was passed. When the unwinding starts, it will radically change the risk profile of Medicaid and all other health payors. Measuring and mitigating against this changing risk profile is where the nature of our profession as actuaries becomes critical. The biggest driver in the changing risk profile is the enrollment growth that has occurred with Medicaid since the pandemic began, as a number of these new members are at risk of losing their coverage.

Author(s): Colby Schaeffer

Publication Date: May/June 2022

Publication Site: Contingencies

14.9 million excess deaths associated with the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021

Link: https://www.who.int/news/item/05-05-2022-14.9-million-excess-deaths-were-associated-with-the-covid-19-pandemic-in-2020-and-2021

Excerpt:

New estimates from the World Health Organization (WHO) show that the full death toll associated directly or indirectly with the COVID-19 pandemic (described as “excess mortality”) between 1 January 2020 and 31 December 2021 was approximately 14.9 million (range 13.3 million to 16.6 million).  

“These sobering data not only point to the impact of the pandemic but also to the need for all countries to invest in more resilient health systems that can sustain essential health services during crises, including stronger health information systems,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “WHO is committed to working with all countries to strengthen their health information systems to generate better data for better decisions and better outcomes.”

Excess mortality is calculated as the difference between the number of deaths that have occurred and the number that would be expected in the absence of the pandemic based on data from earlier years. 

Excess mortality includes deaths associated with COVID-19 directly (due to the disease) or indirectly (due to the pandemic’s impact on health systems and society). Deaths linked indirectly to COVID-19 are attributable to other health conditions for which people were unable to access prevention and treatment because health systems were overburdened by the pandemic. The estimated number of excess deaths can be influenced also by deaths averted during the pandemic due to lower risks of certain events, like motor-vehicle accidents or occupational injuries. 

Publication Date: 5 May 2022

Publication Site: WHO

Tracking covid-19 excess deaths across countries

Link: https://www.economist.com/graphic-detail/coronavirus-excess-deaths-tracker?utm_campaign=a.coronavirus-special-edition&utm_medium=email.internal-newsletter.np&utm_source=salesforce-marketing-cloud&utm_term=2022042&utm_content=ed-picks-article-link-5&etear=nl_special_5&utm_campaign=a.coronavirus-special-edition&utm_medium=email.internal-newsletter.np&utm_source=salesforce-marketing-cloud&utm_term=4/2/2022&utm_id=1119326

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As covid-19 has spread around the world, people have become grimly familiar with the death tolls that their governments publish each day. Unfortunately, the total number of fatalities caused by the pandemic may be even higher, for several reasons. First, the official statistics in many countries exclude victims who did not test positive for coronavirus before dying—which can be a substantial majority in places with little capacity for testing. Second, hospitals and civil registries may not process death certificates for several days, or even weeks, which creates lags in the data. And third, the pandemic has made it harder for doctors to treat other conditions and discouraged people from going to hospital, which may have indirectly caused an increase in fatalities from diseases other than covid-19.

One way to account for these methodological problems is to use a simpler measure, known as “excess deaths”: take the number of people who die from any cause in a given region and period, and then compare it with a historical baseline from recent years. We have used statistical models to create our baselines, by predicting the number of deaths each region would normally have recorded in 2020 and 2021.

Many Western countries, and some nations and regions elsewhere, regularly publish data on mortality from all causes. The table below shows that, in most places, the number of excess deaths (compared with our baseline) is greater than the number of covid-19 fatalities officially recorded by the government. The full data for each country, as well as our underlying code, can be downloaded from our GitHub repository. Our sources also include the Human Mortality Database, a collaboration between UC Berkeley and the Max Planck Institute in Germany, and the World Mortality Dataset, created by Ariel Karlinsky and Dmitry Kobak.

Publication Date: last updated 13 May 2022

Publication Site: The Economist

COVID-19 Mortality Study: Analytics – 2021 Q2

Link: https://www.limra.com/en/research/benchmarks/u.s.-individual-life-insurance-covid-19-mortality-experience-study/analytics/2021-q2/

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Excerpt:

LIMRA, Reinsurance Group of America (RGA), the Society of Actuaries (SOA) Research Institute, and TAI have collaborated on an ongoing effort to analyze the impact of COVID-19 on the
individual life insurance industry’s mortality experience and share the emerging results with the insurance industry and the public. The Individual Life COVID-19 Project Work Group (Work
Group) was formed as a collaboration of LIMRA, RGA, the SOA Research Institute, and TAI to design, implement, and create the study and to produce and distribute a variety of analyses.
This report is the fifth public release from this collaboration and contains the results of the study of excess mortality for individual life insurance to include the second quarter of 2021.
Data from 31 companies representing approximately 72% of the industry face amount in force have been included in the analysis in this report. A total of 3.0 million death claims from
individual life policies from 2015 through June 30, 2021 make up the basis of the analysis.


Highlights for the 2nd Quarter

  • The second quarter of 2021 showed a significant realignment of the actual to expected relative mortality ratios, across many different cuts of the data.
  • It is worth noting that the third quarter 2021 results will likely not be as favorable due to the impact of the COVID-19 Delta variant whose impact first started in July 2021 and peaked
    around mid- September
  • All age groups improved in the second quarter compared to the first quarter of 2021, but the improvement was more dramatic in the older ages. While the three age groups shown under
    age 65 were still significantly over the trend established by 2015-2019, the age 65-84 group was within the 95% confidence bands and the age 85+ group was significantly better than the
    2015-2019 trend (p < 0.05).
  • Whereas the pandemic experience so far had showed substantial variations across different regions, this appears to have moderated during the 2nd quarter of 2022.

Author(s): Individual Life COVID-19 Project Work Group, SOA

Publication Date: May 2022, accessed 21 May 2022

Publication Site: LIMRA