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All-cause mortality started trending upwards with vax rollout, not Covid, report finds
An in-depth analysis of Queensland mortality data pinpoints the uptick in deaths during the primary series rollout, and before borders opened allowing Covid to spread in the community.
Prior to the pandemic, Australians were living longer, with death rates amongst older Australians trending downwards. But in 2021, that trendline upturned, and Australia started chalking up excess mortality at rates not seen since WWII.
When exactly did the mortality trend change, and why?
This is the question data analyst Andrew Madry set out to answer in a new report for the Australian Medical Professionals Society (AMPS), as part of an investigation into Australia’s ongoing excess deaths.
Madry selected Queensland mortality data as the perfect dataset to analyse because it offers a clear picture of mortality trends throughout three distinct sets of conditions:
No Covid, no vaccinations (2020)
No Covid, almost full population vaccination coverage (2021)
Covid and almost full population vaccination coverage (2022)
What he found was a clearly marked upturn in all-cause mortality (ACM) among those aged 60 and older coinciding with the primary series vaccine rollout, from around March 2021.
The trend is exacerbated nine months later when Queensland’s first Omicron wave causes the first spate of Covid deaths, though this is confounded by the concurrent saturation of the primary series rollout, and booster (third dose) uptake.
Strong temporal association with vaccine rollout
The temporal association between the vaccine rollout and the upturn in ACM is striking and highly significant in light of the official refrain that, because only 14 deaths have been formally associated with Covid vaccines by the Therapeutic Goods Association (TGA), the vaccines cannot have anything to do with Australia’s high rates of excess mortality.
This willingness to swallow the TGA’s official figure whole without any further analysis is major shortcoming in the work of groups like The Actuaries Institute, whose Covid Mortality Working Group provides the main source of commentary on excess deaths for mainstream media outlets, says Madry.
Notably, the majority of reported deaths following Covid vaccination are in those aged 60 and over, the same group that shows a sharp uptick in ACM during the primary series rollout in Queensland.
TGA safety monitoring system
A whole section (Section 12) is devoted to the TGA’s safety monitoring system, noting data-keeping anomalies and lapses in transparency, such as the concealment of reported deaths in children.
Given the concentration of reports of death following vaccination in the elderly, it is pertinent to note that in January 2021, the TGA received notice of a spate of deaths and adverse reactions in elderly Norwegians following vaccination with Pfizer’s COMIRNATY product.
Additional to Madry’s commentary in the report, correspondence between the Norwegian regulator and the TGA released under Freedom Of Information (FOI-4073) acknowledges a “uniform picture – nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea leading to acute kidney injury in frail patients,” with 1/1000 vaccinated patients being affected, including 30 reported fatalities.
However, an investigation by the European Medicines Agency determined that no causal link with the Pfizer vaccine could be established, and the TGA took the position that, accordingly, the product posed no specific risk to elderly people.
Before publishing its media release on the matter, the TGA invited the sponsor, Pfizer, to review and provide comment on the draft. Adjunct Professor John Skerritt replied that the sponsor’s suggestions would be incorporated.
Madry concludes that, ”the TGA monitoring system can be described as politically influenced or deficient, or both.”
In a recent post on his Substack, Datawise, Madry wrote, “all excess mortality estimates are wrong, but some are useful.” In other words, there’s no single right way to analyse or estimate ACM or excess mortality, but some are more useful than others.
To conduct his analysis, Madry purchased a custom data set from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) broken into narrower age bands of five years. He focused his analysis on ages 60 and over because this cohort is where the main of Australia’s excess mortality is seen.
By analysing each five-year age band, Madry is able to show that the rise in ACM is consistent across all age bands, although it is more pronounced in the 80+ groups. This shows that the increase in ACM is not just due to the very elderly dying a year or two early after exposure to a nasty virus. Rather, life expectancy is falling, and it started falling around March 2021.
A common explanation given for the recent rise in excess mortality (and ACM) in Australia is population change. To account for this, Madry’s analysis is population adjusted.
Madry also accounts for seasonal effects, showing that seasonal variations can explain some of Queensland’s ACM, but not all. This is another criticism Madry makes of The Actuaries Institute’s commentary on Covid mortality, which he says fails to subtract deaths that would have occurred in a regular flu season from the total Covid death count, thereby inflating the impact of Covid on ACM.
The perfect ACM test group
Queensland had a hard border until mid-December 2021, and thus was able to contain community transmission to near zero until the border opening, after which the virus spread as viruses do. By the time the border reopened, 88.2 per cent of the population had had one dose, and 81 per cent had had two doses of Covid vaccination.
There were only seven Covid-related deaths recorded in the Sunshine State up until the border opening, most of whom were cruise ship passengers. By mid-January 2022, 19 Covid deaths had been recorded in Queensland, mainly in people over 80 years old, as the Omicron wave took off in the community.
Thus, due to the late arrival of Covid to Queensland, and with a small number of deaths until mid-January 2022, Queensland mortality data offers a wider time view of the impact of government-imposed health measures, not confounded by the impact of Covid itself.
As already discussed, there is a clear indication that ACM starts to surge coincidentally with the vaccine rollout, nine months before Covid hits the state.
The uptick in ACM could have been detected in real time
In Section 9, Madry discusses several algorithms for time series forecasting that could have detected the change point in ACM trends in real time.
Madry argues that with proper data management and analysis, the alarming uptick in ACM could have been detected shortly after the vaccine rollout, and the Queensland Government’s pandemic management policies should have been reassessed with urgency.
The report concludes,
“Clearly the health of Australians has been adversely affected by the panic promulgated and health measures applied by Australian government authorities.”
Read and download Andrew Madry’s report, ‘Excess Mortality in Australia - When Were the Warning Signs Apparent?’
Inquiry into Australian excess deaths
As the Australian Parliament voted against holding an inquiry into Australia’s record excess deaths, AMPS has undertaken to run its own inquiry later this year. Madry’s report on Queensland pandemic mortality trends will form one part of a planned book to be released by AMPS later this year, coinciding with commentary from a panel of international experts, including Professor Norman Fenton. Both the book and the panel recording will be available to the public. Follow AMPS on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn for updates.
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