Excess deaths remained elevated even after COVID-19 vaccines, study finds



More people died in Western countries than expected for three consecutive years amid the COVID-19 pandemic, despite containment measures and vaccines, according to a new study.

The study, published in BMJ Public Health, found more research is needed to determine why more people died than expected, a metric called excess mortality.

“Excess mortality has remained high in the Western World for three consecutive years, despite the implementation of containment measures and COVID-19 vaccines,” according to the study. “This raises serious concerns. Government leaders and policymakers need to thoroughly investigate underlying causes of persistent excess mortality.”

The authors of the study – Saskia Mostert, Marcel Hoogland, Minke Huibers and Gertjan Kaspers – examined excess deaths in 47 Western countries, including the U.S.

“This insight into the overall all-cause excess mortality since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic is an important first step for future health crisis policy decision-making,” the authors wrote. “The next step concerns distinguishing between the various potential contributors to excess mortality, including COVID-19 infection, indirect effects of containment measures and COVID-19 vaccination programs.”

They noted that differentiating between the causes was “challenging.” National statistics vary in quality and thoroughness, testing policies for COVID-19 varied by country and not everyone agreed on what qualified as a COVID-19 death, according to the study.

“During 2021, when not only containment measures but also COVID-19 vaccines were used to tackle virus spread and infection, the highest number of excess deaths was recorded: 1,256,942 excess deaths,” according to the study.

It also noted vaccine dangers: “Although COVID-19 vaccines were provided to guard civilians from suffering morbidity and mortality by the COVID-19 virus, suspected adverse events have been documented as well.”

The study noted the adverse effects of pandemic containment measures.

“Countries in the Western World promptly implemented COVID-19 containment measures (such as lockdowns, school closures, physical distancing, travel restrictions, business closures, stay-at-home orders, curfews and quarantine measures with contact tracing) to limit virus spread and shield its residents from morbidity and mortality,” the authors wrote. “These non-pharmaceutical interventions however had adverse indirect effects (such as economic damage, limited access to education, food insecurity, child abuse, limited access to healthcare, disrupted health programs and mental health challenges) that increased morbidity and mortality from other causes.”

The study called for more research on the issues surrounding excess mortality.

“This is unprecedented and raises serious concerns. During the pandemic, it was emphasized by politicians and the media on a daily basis that every COVID-19 death mattered and every life deserved protection through containment measures and COVID-19 vaccines,” the authors wrote. “In the aftermath of the pandemic, the same morale should apply. Every death needs to be acknowledged and accounted for, irrespective of its origin.”

Transparency towards potential lethal drivers is warranted. Cause-specific mortality data therefore need to be made available to allow more detailed, direct and robust analyses to determine the underlying contributors. Postmortem examinations need to be facilitated to allot the exact reason for death. Government leaders and policymakers need to thoroughly investigate underlying causes of persistent excess mortality and evaluate their health crisis policies.

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