U.S. excess mortality down
In this video, Dr. Seheult of MedCram, discusses the current excess mortality statistics and explains how they are calculated. In a graph, Dr. Seheult shows the deaths per week for multiple chronic diseases some of which include heart disease, stroke, diabetes, etc. It is noted that for every single year, there is always a peak and increase in deaths between the months of December and January for patients with these chronic diseases. This is usually exactly when we see the sun lowest in the sky during this time. It is noted that the lowest mortalities occur in the summer months i.e. July when the sun is at its highest peak. MedCram has done a number of videos on the importance of sunlight and why this may be contributing to this phenomena including Light as Medicine and the Case for Sunlight in COVID. Vitamin D is important, but it is also a marker for near infrared exposure.
Cardiovascular disease and COVID
In the year 2020, before COVID vaccines came out, there was a notable spike in cardiovascular deaths around the time a COVID spike occurred. These deaths were not labeled as COVID deaths; however, it should be noted that COVID can cause cardiovascular complications.
Excess deaths calculation
On another graph Dr. Seheult shows there is a seasonal baseline that is known and monitored. When deaths rise above this, it is noted as abnormal. It is important to know how to calculate excess deaths. To calculate the excess deaths you have to take the total number of deaths expected and take it away from the seasonal baseline during that time. Due to an undulating seasonal baseline you need to take a look at the data above it.
What’s happening now with excess deaths?
So for 2023, from the Our World in Data source, since July of 2022 there has been a decline in excess deaths. The way the baseline is obtained is by looking at the baseline prior to the pandemic in 2020. Currently, in the summer of 2023, we are actually in negative territory in terms of excess deaths which should not come as a surprise as due to the large number of deaths with COVID that occurred these deaths otherwise would have been occurring later and contributing to these numbers normally. These numbers per the Our World in Data source are calculated using the reported deaths data from the Human Mortality Database and the World Mortality Dataset which are both updated weekly. None of the pandemic data is being included in the baseline. Excess mortality is measured as the difference between the reported number of deaths in a given week or month in 2022-2022 and an estimate of the expected death for that period had the COVID-19 pandemic not occurred. They are using a regression model for each region using historical deaths data from 2015-2019 and then use the model to project the number of deaths there might have normally been expected in 2020-2022. There is no data from the pandemic being incorporated. They had previously used a different expected deaths baseline and made this change because using the five-year average has an important limitation as it does not account for year-to-year trends in mortality and thus can misestimate excess mortality. This is what goes into the zero baseline. In the winter of 2022 there was a spike in COVID-19, influenza and pneumonia.
Currently in the U.S. there is a negative excess mortality. This is related to total deaths and has nothing to do with what the physician puts on the death certificate. We are currently at our lowest in May/June 2023. However, as we go throughout the year and the sun gets lower in the sky, Dr. Seheult suspects the excess deaths may start to creep up, and it is probably, in his opinion, because we have a much larger cardiovascular and diabetic population which has an undulating relationship with the seasons. The most important thing you can do is to get outside and get some sun.
LINKS / REFERENCES:
Debunking the False Claim That COVID Death Counts Are Inflated (Scientific American) | https://www.scientificamerican.com/ar…
Weekly U.S. Influenza Surveillance Report (CDC) | https://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/index.htm
Estimated excess mortality from the World Health Organization (OWID) | https://ourworldindata.org/excess-mor…
The World Mortality Dataset: Tracking excess mortality across countries during the COVID-19 pandemic (NIH) | https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/arti…
Excess mortality: Deaths from all causes compared to projection based on previous years, by age, United States (OWID) | https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/ex…