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Fact check 2.0 – Excess deaths Part 1 

In brief
  • Excess deaths worldwide appear to be spiking.
  • In NZ the excess deaths (10.4% increase in 2022) are mainly among those over 64.
  • Is it old age, vaccine related, or something else? 
  • New Zealand is in a unique position, with low COVID exposure prior to vaccinations. 
  • NZ doesn’t seem to show excess mortality in younger populations, contrary to what  appears to be the case elsewhere.

What’s causing the spike in excess deaths? 

Excess mortality (aka excess deaths) represents the number of deaths which surpass the average for the corresponding period in previous years. While there appears to be little dispute they are spiking globally, the debate rages as to whether or not COVID vaccines are responsible. 

The role of age in the context of excess deaths in NZ

Supporters of the vaccine dismiss any connection between the two, citing age as a primary factor in increasing numbers of excess deaths. In 2020, NZ’s mortality rates dropped due to early pandemic measures. By 2022, there was a 10.4% increase in deaths, with 70% linked to COVID. About 80% of all deaths were aged 65 and older, with 53% being 80 or older.

While the crude death rate increased from 6.8 to 7.5 per 1,000, the standardised death rate, which adjusts for age, appears to have remained consistent at 3.55, aligning with the 2015-2019 average.

There are a lot of factors in the mix so it isn’t easy to be sure of the cause

Vaccine sceptics say it’s notable that post vaccine fatality rates rose with age. Such has been the case in NZ. However, where sceptics claim an acceleration in the number of older people dying due to vaccines, others say an overall increase in the ageing population is the real explanation. 

Sceptics are suspicious that the data in support of “safe and effective”  always ties back to the same medical community that has been boosting the COVID vaccines or the government. So just quoting such sources in a circular reasoning exercise isn’t very compelling and seems more designed to assuage the concerns of those who already believe this narrative.

Distrust in these official sources is deeply ingrained in many individuals. Also, the official stance on COVID vaccines has not aged well, with the lack of timely supporting evidence now exposed, as well as the increasing contrary evidence.  

For instance, there were repeated insinuations (or even outright claims) that the Pfizer vaccine was effective in reducing transmission when it wasn’t even tested for that. Or that young people should be vaccinated when Medsafe said there was no proof that was a good idea. There is clear evidence this effort was influenced by politics, not just Medsafe advice.

Fact check 2.0 - Excess deaths Part 1  - Centrist
“Is it the vaccine or just a really bad year to be a senior citizen?”

Additionally, numerous deaths have been reported shortly after vaccination, often with an unknown cause. This raises questions about the immediate dismissal of any connection to vaccines. Without knowing the cause, how can the vaccine be ruled out so readily?

NZ is in a unique position vis a vis vaccine rollouts 

An important consideration is that NZ, being one of the few countries to introduce the COVID vaccine to a population with low prior exposure to the virus, does not seem to be experiencing excess mortality amongst younger people. Such a trend would  be expected if the cause were solely the vaccine. 

It may be a different story in some other countries where it seems the young and healthy are inexplicably dying suddenly. However, widespread COVID exposure in those countries before vaccination campaigns commenced complicates the comparison with NZ. 

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