In the year from week ending June 5th 2022 to week ending June 4th 2023 the U.K. recorded 1,059 excess death per million people. The odd thing about this is that excess deaths in the U.K. in 2023 are higher than the excess deaths in the same period in 2020-21 in 13 of the 27 EU nations!
If the people of Austria, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands and Sweden were so worried about the likelihood of dying that they acquiesced in locking themselves up, voluntarily trashed their economies and stopped their kids going to school back in 2020-21 (well, Sweden didn’t, but the rest did), why don’t we feel the need to do the same now? We have more excess deaths now than they had then.
If YouGov did a poll tomorrow asking whether or not we should, right now, go back into lockdown, how many thumbs up would it receive? Very few, I should hope. But if U.K. citizens don’t think it’s a good idea now, why did the Germans or the Finns or the Greeks think it was a good idea in 2020 and 2021? Could it be that they were manipulated? That they weren’t given the whole picture? That they were ‘had’?
Let’s try and put some perspective on this number. We can think of 1,059 excess deaths per 1,000,000 of population in several ways. As a straight percentage let’s round it down to 0.1%. This means that we expect 0.1% of the population to die in addition to the number of people we might ordinarily expect to die in the year. Or, if you prefer, an additional one person in a 1,000 will die in the year.
In the U.K. roughly one person in 100 dies every year, i.e., 1% of the population. But if we’re experiencing excess deaths at a level of 0.1% then we can expect that about 1.1% of the population will die this year. Let’s take the example of a large town or small city with 100,000 inhabitants. In a normal year we’d expect 1,000 deaths. With this year’s higher level of excess deaths, the funeral directors would expect to see 1,100 deaths. That’s all very straightforward.
In case you’d forgotten, let’s remind ourselves that the period from April 5th 2020 to April 4th 2021 included the two big spikes in fatality in Spring 2020 and winter 2020-21. It’s also the period that ended before the vaccine rollout was in any way complete. While about 50% of the U.K. population had received one dose of vaccine by then, in the EU the figure was only about 20%. This period was very much the year when we would have expected to see peak ‘all-cause’ pandemic excess deaths in the U.K. and across Europe with very little amelioration from vaccines or prior infection.
Figure 1 shows all-cause excess deaths across the EU for the period April 4th 2020 to April 5th 2021. I’ve overlaid the Our World in Data chart with a thick red line representing U.K. all-cause excess deaths from June 5th 2022 to June 4th 2023. You can see that U.K. deaths in 2022-23 would have ranked ‘mid-table’ among EU countries in 2020-21.
What to make of this? It prompts a few questions that surely the Hallett Inquiry should ask. Such as: “If there are more excess deaths per head of population in the U.K. now than in half of the EU in 2020-21, were the Europeans mad to lockdown then, or are we mad not to lockdown now?” Or: “Given that, with the honourable exception of Sweden, all these countries broadly followed the same set of policies, do the Bulgarians, with about 3,500 per million excess deaths and Denmark with below average excess deaths, both consider that lockdown was a valuable tool?” If lockdown was so effective, why were deaths in Bulgaria so high? If the pandemic was so deadly, why were they so low in Denmark?
But the fun doesn’t end there. Figure 2 picks out the U.K. and 13 EU countries with excess all-cause deaths in the 12 months to April 2023 (the latest date for which figure were available for all countries) greater than 750 per million. Back in 2020-21 this level of excess deaths would have put you mid-table in the EU excess death league. Clearly, in 2020-21 it was considered essential to lock down populations with these modest levels of excess death (or indeed, lower).
In figure 2 all-cause excess deaths for the 12 months to April 4th 2021 are indicated by the blue bar and for the 12 months to March 26th 2023 by the orange bar. In eight of the countries – Germany, Finland, Austria, Latvia, Greece, Estonia, Netherlands and Ireland – excess deaths in 2022-23 have been higher than in 2020-21. In Germany for example, excess deaths in 2022-23 have been four times higher than in 2020/21. In Finland in 2020-21 fewer people than normal died, while now they have excess deaths that would have placed them in the top half of the EU death league back in 2020-21. Ireland and Greece have almost twice the level of excess deaths in 2022-23 that they had in 2020-21.
Just for fun, put yourself for a moment in the shoes of the German, Austrian or Irish equivalent of Lady Hallett. How would you, with a straight face, justify to your fellow countrymen spending several hundred million euros looking into the awful events of the ‘once in a century’ 2020-21 pandemic, when death supposedly stalked the land, resulting in excess deaths far lower than they are now?