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COVID still accounting for half of excess deaths in Australia

COVID-19 is still accounting for half of all excess deaths through H1 2022, according to the Actuaries Institute of Australia, reflecting the continued risk for insurance and reinsurance firms with exposure in this market.

Actuaries Institute data shows that excess mortality in Australia for the first six months of 2022 was 13% more than predicted, or +11,200 deaths, of which COVID-19 accounted for +5,600.

And a further 1,300 deaths were in people who died with COVID-19, possibly due to conditions arising from COVID, or interactions with other causes of death.

“Multiple factors are likely to be in play, and different factors may be more or less pronounced at various times,” said Karen Cutter, spokesperson for the Actuaries Institute’s Working Group.

“It isn’t possible to identify from the data whether any or all of these issues are causing the non-COVID-19 excess deaths. We would like to see further investigation into the possible causes to try to answer this question.”

According to daily surveillance reports from State and Territory health departments, there were around 12,900 COVID-19 deaths in the first nine months of 2022. The number of deaths in the month of September 2022 was considerably lower than for July and August.

Adjusting the surveillance deaths to remove deaths ‘with’ COVID, the Actuaries Institute estimates that around 9,500 of these deaths were ‘from’ COVID-19.

At this level, COVID-19 is estimated to be the third leading cause of death for the first nine months of 2022, and it is expected that COVID-19 will also be the third leading cause of death over the whole of 2022.

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