Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Australia: COVID-19 Was 3rd Leading Cause of Death In 2022



Although minimizers like to equate COVID with seasonal influenza (which is far from benign), its impact has constantly exceeded what we've come to expect from regular flu.  In 2022 Australia's Bureau of Statistics cited 305 deaths from influenza - up from just 2 in 2021 - but 9,859 deaths from COVID.

Not only was COVID the 3rd leading cause of death in Australia last year, it was the first time since 1970 that an infectious disease had cracked the top 5 list.

Despite the exactness of the numbers presented, not every influenza or COVID death is identified as such. We've looked at the difficulties in counting influenza and COVID deaths many times before (see here, here, and here).  

While officially the pandemic has claimed nearly 7 million lives since 2020, unofficial estimates run 2 or 3 times higher.  Some countries are obviously better equipped to count COVID deaths than others, but no country can be expected to accurately capture all of them. 

Regardless of the exact number of cases, the abrupt ascent of COVID into 3rd place is remarkable.  I've posted the Australian Bureau of Statistics press release below.  Those wishing a deeper dive into the number can access the full report here

COVID-19 first infectious disease in top 5 causes of death since 1970
Media Release
Causes of Death, Australia, 2022
Deaths, Australia, 2022

COVID-19 was the third leading cause of death in 2022, accounting for more than one in 20 deaths (9,859 of 190,939 deaths), according to figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Lauren Moran, ABS head of mortality statistics, said: “this marks the first time an infectious disease has appeared in the top five leading causes since 1970, when influenza and pneumonia was ranked fifth.

COVID-19 was among the top ten leading causes of death in all states and territories in 2022, ranging from the third leading cause in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory to ninth in the Northern Territory. The virus was the sixth leading cause in Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania.

“Broken down by sex, we saw that COVID-19 was the third ranked cause of death for males (5,484) and the fourth ranked cause of death for females (4,375). Those who died from COVID-19 had a high median age at death of 85.8 years”.

Overall, there were almost 20,000 more deaths recorded in 2022 than in 2021. Ischaemic heart disease remained the leading cause of death, accounting for more than 18,500 (one in 10) deaths, with more than 60 per cent of these being males.

Dementia (including Alzheimer’s disease) was the leading cause of death for females and the second leading cause for males. Females comprised almost two-thirds of dementia deaths.

“The top five causes of death in 2022 were ischaemic heart disease, dementia (including Alzheimer’s disease), COVID-19, cerebrovascular diseases (strokes) and lung cancer, which when combined, accounted for more than a third of all deaths,” Ms Moran said.

Ischaemic heart disease, followed by diabetes, chronic lung diseases, lung cancer and suicide remained the top five leading causes of death for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people in 2022. COVID-19 was the ninth leading cause of death.

There were 3,249 people who died by suicide in 2022 (rate of 12.5 per 100,000 people), with males accounting for around three quarters of those deaths. The median age at death for people who died by suicide was 45.6. This compares to a median age at death of 82.2 years for the total population. Suicide was the leading cause of premature death in 2022.

If you or someone you know requires assistance or support, please call Lifeline (13 11 14) or Beyond Blue (1300 224 636).

Media notes
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