Back in March, I wrote a post noting that excess mortality data from Europe and Israel were hard to reconcile with claims of 90% vaccine effectiveness against death. However, I also noted that some countries data were consistent with very high vaccine effectiveness against death.
The two examples I gave were Australia and Iceland – both countries with very high vaccination rates. By the end of 2021, each country had double-vaccinated 77% of its population, compared to only 70% in the U.K. and only 63% in the U.S. (see below).
At the time I wrote the post, Iceland had only seen a minor uptick in excess mortality, while Australia had not seen any at all – despite both countries experiencing major outbreaks in the winter/spring of 2022. If countries like Germany, the Netherlands and Israel had seen deadly post-vaccination waves, why hadn’t Iceland and Australia? That was the puzzle.
It appears that ‘puzzle’ is now solved – we just needed to wait for more data. The latest figures from Iceland and Australia show sizeable upticks in excess mortality. First, let’s look at Iceland:
After bouncing around the zero mark for the first two years of the pandemic, excess mortality jumped to 74% in the first week of March. And it has now been above zero for eleven of the last thirteen weeks. Next, let’s consider Australia:
Over the first two years of the pandemic, excess morality averaged roughly zero – dipping lower in the summer and rising higher in the winter. Yet since the start of October, it has been consistently positive, jumping to 26% in the third week of January.
It should be noted: these upticks in excess mortality are not as large as those seen in European countries during 2020 and 2021.
However, they indicate that even very high vaccination rates are not sufficient to prevent mortality from rising when there’s a major outbreak. And they cast further doubt on claims that the vaccines are 90% effective against death. If they were 90% effective against death, excess mortality should hardly have risen at all in Iceland and Australia.
Given that 77% of the entire population was double vaccinated before the latest outbreaks began (and that’s the entire population, not just over 16s), you’d have to believe that excess mortality would have been many, many times higher in the absence of vaccination to rescue the claim of 90% effectiveness against death.
What’s probably true instead is that the vaccines do reduce mortality from Covid – but not by 90%.