Far too many people are still dying – why is this not frontpage news?

When we faced significant levels of excess mortality during the Covid-19 outbreak, the mainstream media pounded us with a harrowing account of such deaths, day in and day out. We were pummelled with Covid death statistics from morning to night by men in white coats. I am not saying they were wrong to keep us informed about the impact of Covid-19 on the population. But it is surely very strange indeed that these same people are barely reacting in the face of alarming rises in mortality across much of the Western world, let alone jamming our airwaves with emergency talk, as they did in the face of the 2020 surge in Covid deaths.

According to a Euromomo estimate, in 2022 alone Europe has already had some 278,000 more deaths than would be expected under normal circumstances. That is potentially 278,000 human lives that ended due to unusual causes or causes that are not representative of what normally happens any given year. We know from UK’s ONS mortality data that around half of excess deaths in 2022, at least in England and Wales, were not attributable to Covid-19. So we cannot view these new waves of excess death simply as a by-product of the coronavirus.

According to Eurostat data, in July 2022 we saw a dramatic peak in excess deaths in Europe, of 16% above the average rate recorded for the same month in 2016-2019. This compares with a mere +3% increase in July 2020, the year of the pandemic outbreak, and +6% in July 2021. In the week ending 21st October 2022, England saw an excess death rate 16.8% above the five year average, according to UK Office for National Statistics data, so we cannot attribute these high levels of excess death to a summer heat wave.

One analyst writing in the BMJ, based on UK ONS data, writes that “from 2 April to 30 September 2022 there were almost 26 000 (11%) more deaths than expected (in England and Wales). About half (54%) of the excess deaths involve covid-19.” So what about the other half?

These levels of excess death, though falling short of excess mortality during the peak months of the pandemic, are still considerably higher than they should be under normal circumstances, and therefore we urgently need a public inquiry to determine the cause of these deaths.

To the statistician, these unexpected deaths may seem like numbers to be analyzed and converted into spreadsheets. But to their friends and families, they are loved ones who die in the middle of the night of an unexpected heart attack, or suffer a fatal blood clot in the brain, or pass away after a protracted battle with cancer.

I prefer not to speculate about the reasons for the media’s relatively low-key coverage of these alarming waves of excess death (it is not that there has been no coverage at all, just that it has been very low-key and of a very limited quantity compared with the level of coverage of Covid-related deaths during the pandemic). But the vastly less prominent coverage of 2022 excess deaths, their failure to become a “hot topic” in public discussion, and the apparent lack of will to critically investigate their underlying causes, suggests there are double standards for Covid and non-Covid deaths.

What could be driving this alarming wave of excess mortality? Only a properly conducted and adequately staffed public inquiry can provide any definitive answer.

But here are a few potential factors, worth investigating carefully and exhaustively:

  • untreated illnesses due to disruptions in the health system during the lockdowns
  • untreated illnesses due to the fear surrounding hospital visits, resulting in many people staying at home instead of having health issues addresse by healthcare professionals
  • physical illnesses brought on or exacerbated by depression due to job loss, isolation, or other knock-on effects of the lockdowns
  • cardiac and other health conditions caused by exposure to Covid-19
  • cardiac and other health conditions caused by adverse effects of Covid vaccine

Here is the direct link to the Europe-wide Euromomo data on excess death. Below, you can find graphs showing excess mortality levels in Europe since February 2020, also broken down by age bracket. Anything above the dotted red line represents a “substantial increase” in mortality.

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