I’ve been busy the last few days and have taken a wee minute to get this blog written up. Excess deaths seem now to be plateauing. That’s better news than if they were rising, but remember these are EXCESS deaths. We are now settling at the January 2021 excess level (Weeks 53 to 57). This is really concerning, especially as it is not an isolated event, it’s part of a sustained trend. That is now us getting on for a full half year with excess deaths.
In 2020 we had 6155 excess deaths. So far in 2021 (up to Week 44) we have had 4697. By Week 44 in 2020 we had had 4863.
Is this year going to be worse than last year was, for excess deaths? It’s looking distinctly possible.
Why are politicians and medics and the general population not jumping up and down about this? I am.
Graph 1 shows how bad things are and the extent of this period of excess. The excess does look like it has peaked and is at least levelling off, if not dropping.
In Graph 2, we see the shape of the excess and it is quite clear what is happening in terms of setting. We have had a really high excess death in the home count since early 2020. It has remained elevated until now. What has changed since Week 63 is that the care home deaths have been rising from a maximum deficit and since Week 66 hospital deaths have been rising. These increases, not matched by a decrease in deaths in the home, have come together to contribute to soaring excess deaths. It looks like hospital excess deaths are flattening now and care home deaths are back to average, and this is why the excess is now falling. However, as we head in to winter, the question is whether deaths in the home or in hospital are going to fall down to normal levels (zero excess)? It doesn’t look like it. But at the same time, in a population, you only have so many people vulnerable to death from anything. To maintain an excess for any length of time is highly unusual. We should be concerned by what we are seeing because it is so utterly extraordinary.
Graph 3 shows that cancer deaths have been rising steadily to an above-average state. It is fairly subtle, but overall this year we have had 269 excess deaths from cancer. There have been seven consecutive weeks of excess in which 169 excess deaths have been seen. So more than half of the excess seen in the year 2021 have been in the last seven weeks. For comparison, for the whole of 2020, 34 excess deaths were seen.
Graph 5 shows a steadily rising baseline in excess circulatory deaths since the start of the year. There have been 477 excess deaths of this category in the last 30 weeks. It is just heartbreaking. We will certainly end this year with a significant excess in this category.
Graph 6 shows the extraordinary deficit in respiratory deaths since the start of 2020. I have no explanation for this except that covid either took many people who would have died anyway, or there has been significant misattribution of deaths that were respiratory as covid. Respiratory deaths are now at an average level.
‘Other’ excess deaths have been really concerning. Over the two years since the start of 2020 we have seen 3173 excess deaths of ‘other’. Only 11 weeks out of the 97 have been in deficit. You can see the rising baseline in ‘other’ deaths looks very different in 2021 (Week 54 onwards) to 2020. We have had an excess of 1656 so far this year. In 2020 by week 44, we had had an excess of 1231. Every way I look at deaths, this year is looking worse. I’m really sorry. I just cannot find any news that isn’t bad.
Covid deaths – there isn’t much to say about Graph 8. My question is: why are they coming down so much slower than the three previous waves of covid deaths? In an epidemic (even an endemic viral surge) the deaths should come down.
For the first time in five weeks we see that excess deaths are below the autumn peak of 2020 when we were in our second wave of covid. I have drawn a yellow line to show the weekly level deaths must drop below and sustain in order for there to be fewer excess deaths in 2021 than 2020.
Graphs 11 & 12 show how covid deaths matched the excess in 2020. In 2021, they have switched from exceeding the excess to being significantly less than the excess. It is impossible for anyone to argue rationally that covid is driving the excess now.
Finally, this period is not looking totally unprecedented in Scottish history in terms of excess deaths. Its not good news. But it’s something.
Please, friends, talk to people about this.
Stay tuned ?
Stay sane ?
Stay strong ?
And remember I love you. We are all on the right side. ❤