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Comparison of Excess Deaths in Australia and Other OECD Countries

In this video, we take a look at some OECD data showing us the number of excess deaths by week of occurrence in 2022. For the purposes of this presentation, Iā€™ll just be looking at the data from Australia, Canada, Sweden, the UK, and the United States, although feel free to look up the data for other countries if you wish.

The website that weā€™ll be using is OECD.Stat, which is the official OECD statistics website. First, weā€™ll need to click on ā€œHealthā€. Then click on ā€œCOVID-19 Health Indicatorsā€. Then we need to click on ā€œMortality (by week)ā€. Then finally click on ā€œExcess deaths by week, 2020-2022ā€. This will show us a table of data with a whole bunch of countries included, but as I said at the start, Iā€™m only wanting to use those five countries that I mentioned previously. So you can simply click on ā€œCustomiseā€, then ā€œCountryā€, and then select the countries that you wish to include.

Iā€™m going to click on the export button, and export the data as an Excel spreadsheet, so that itā€™s easier to present and to add up numbers and so on.

The table shows you the data for each of the countries, Australia, Canada, Sweden, and so on, and the Week number for each week of 2022 so far. Not all countries have released all the data so far, for example, Australia only has up until Week 30, which is up until the end of July. For each country, there are two columns, Excess Deaths as a number, that is, how many extra people died in that week compared to historical averages, and the Percentage Change, again, as compared to historical averages.

One thing I wanted to know from this data was how many total extra deaths there have been so far this year, so I just found the sum of each of the columns using Excel. Australia, for example, has almost 19,000 extra deaths this year alone! And thatā€™s only up until the end of July! Canada is similar at 21,000 excess deaths. UK 27,000. The US 349,000, remembering though, that the US has a much larger population at around 332 million which is around 12 or 13 times the population of Australia, but even so, thatā€™s a lot of extra deaths! But the standout, I suppose, is Sweden with only 158 extra deaths in total, a fraction of the other countries, noting that Sweden has a population of around ten-and-a-half million people. So why would that be? Why would Sweden have so few excess deaths?

Hereā€™s a comparison of the raw data between Sweden and Australia, noting that Australia has about two-and-a-half times the population. But even so, thereā€™s a huge disparity in excess deaths between the two countries. The excess deaths in Sweden, shown in orange, are relatively stable, in that sometimes theyā€™re positive, sometimes theyā€™re negative, but overall, theyā€™re hovering around the x-axis ā€“ the zero mark. Whereas Australia in blue has clearly stayed well above historical averages. Depending on the week, thereā€™s been between 400 and 1000 extra deaths every week this year. I mean, that would be like a jumbo jet falling out of the sky every single week.

If we compare the percentage change of excess deaths between Sweden and Australia, which basically takes out the population difference, we can still see that Australia is well above Sweden in terms of excess deaths. They kind of follow the same pattern, but a lot less extra people are dying in Sweden. Letā€™s add Canada in yellow. It pretty follows the same percentage of extra deaths as Australia, except that by about Week 20, it drops off quite rapidly. Australia though, continues to have significant excess deaths. Letā€™s add the UK to the mix in green. At the start of the year, it was faring fairly well, but then numbers went a bit crazy in the middle, coming back to some sense of normalcy in the latest reporting period, but who knows how long that will last? And finally, the United States in brown. It seems to be following a similar trend to Australia, although started out with more excess deaths early on in the year, but then dipped below Australia, but seems to have risen in more recent months. Either way, percentage wise, it certainly has more excess deaths than Sweden.

Look, weā€™d have to follow this data over the long term to see how this all plays out, but as I said before, isnā€™t this worth investigating? Why is the government basically not talking about this? Does anybody know? I suppose itā€™s just not in their political interests. They have more to lose than to gain.

Anyway, that will do us for this video. In a future video, I would like to talk about causes of death with regards to these excess deaths and see how thatā€™s been trending. Talk soon.

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Written by Daily Insight

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33 Comments

  1. To me quite an obvious omission from this video is to compare Sweden's excess deaths agaist these other countries through 2020 and 2021 as well. What is probably happening is that through that period, when Sweden had fewer Covid control measures in place, excess deaths were higher and this was mostly contributed to by older less heathly people that under other circumstances would have a high chance of dying in the next 1-2 years. Those people are therefore absent from the death statistics in 2022 reducing the net excess death rate.

  2. I hope for you to attempt to show 2020, or 2020-2022 (greater than 100 weeks). I suspect that the 2020 pattern for Sweden/Australia is the reverse of the 2022 pattern. I checked the deaths per million of population on the worldometers covid website. Sweden had 2055, which isnā€™t terrible. Australia had 619, which is perhaps the best performance of any of the countries you listed.

  3. Instead of stating the difference in population over and over, just normalize the data to per capita first.

    Also, why did you only look at 2022? To see if sweden has done better overall you need to look at all the data starting with 2019. This looks like cherrypicking data for a desired result.

  4. It's very interesting that Sweden got hammered by media for it's covid policies despite showing relatively low death tolls from very early on in the pandemic. On top of that, the population was very content with the government action and applauded the 'no lockdown'-policy.
    Most western countries have had outcries over their much stricter policies and yet have been unable to keep deaths down.

  5. Compare apples to apples. From the point of view of a scientific study, you could not have a better case study than Sweden.
    Sweden has a population of about 10 million. It's neighbors to the East and West, Finland and Norway have about 5 million each, with a total close to Sweden's 10 million. All three countries have extremely similar demographics. All three have a major city for their capitols with similar demographics.
    What makes this such a great example is how the 3 countries initially reacted to the pandemic.
    Finland and Norway locked down while Sweden stayed open. The result? Sweden has had twice as many Covid deaths as Finland and Norway combined.
    It's also interesting to note that the differences have diminished as Sweden adopted more of a protective attitude and as Finland and Norway eased up on their restrictions after the first year.
    Why compare Sweden with the US or Australia when you have an almost exact demographic group to compare them with?

  6. The flaw with this is the snapshot nature of it. For this ā€˜analysisā€™ to have any credibility you need to select an appropriate timescale. Different countries took different measures at different times. If a country took the view that they would just let CoVid cull the weak back in 2021, take a huge loss in their population say, then their figures would probably look great for 2022. This isnā€™t a million miles away from what happened in Sweden. Conversely, if you locked everyone down and set out to protect all the vulnerable, not just from CoVid, but any other nasty virus like influenza that would ordinarily be stalking the vulnerable, then when those protections come down, thereā€™s an element of paying the piper. Youā€™d look great in 2021; 2022 not so much! This isnā€™t a million miles away from what happened in Australia.

    You might as well do a snapshot of temperatures versus the northern hemisphere over the last few months without acknowledging the impacts of the seasons.

    The only analysis that you can draw any conclusions from is too look at the period from when this first emerged in 2020 and extending it probably into next year. Then you can compare the relative success of various approaches.

    Even then you need to factor in underlying demographics (age of population), other health impacts (overweight Americans) and so on, but youā€™d be closer. This just doesnā€™t cut the mustard mate.

  7. They handled the pandemic right it seems. I remember being in Sweden to visit family and you could almost live like a free man during the pandemic! (Iā€™m half Swedish) If only they had handled that other issue beginning with Immi- and ending with -gration Sweden would still be a nice country.

  8. i dont understand why you are constantly using the amount of people instead of the percentages, but you keep saying oh keep in mind the population difference, i dont know man. just use the percentages next time because in this type of analysis it feels kindof useless to be throwing around nr of deaths.

  9. If you take your tin-foil hats off for a minute and go to the website in the video, you'll see that Sweden had a very high (up to 47%) rate of excess deaths in 2020 and early 2021. Australia's rate during 2020 was NEGATIVE. In 2022, most Australian states stopped lockdowns – and now deaths have gone up. If you want to link lockdowns to excess deaths – the relationship is pretty obvious, lockdowns save lives. Australia is just going through now what Sweden experienced previously – and exactly what our governments warned us would happen.. The media doesn't want to report on this because it's old news.

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