Deaths in the Australian state of Victoria, where 95 percent of adults have received Covid vaccines and most are boosted with mRNA shots, soared to their highest level in at least 13 years in August - far above the five-year average.
Victoria offers almost unique data: near-real-time reporting on death trends in millions of people who are heavily vaccinated but had little exposure to Covid before being jabbed.
The picture is increasingly grim.
Victoria registered 4,896 deaths from all causes in August, 27 percent above the monthly average of the previous five Augusts. Mortality in Australia typically peaks June through August, the Southern Hemisphere’s winter, but the figure is only the latest in a disturbing trend.
So far in 2022, Victoria has registered 32,533 deaths, 20 percent above its average for the same eight-month period from 2017 through 2021. Victoria has had more than 4000 deaths in five months since February; it crossed that threshold only in seven months in the previous 12 years.
In general, deaths in Victoria have typically fallen in a very narrow band. In each year from 2017 to 2021, the state reported between 26,350 and 27,800 deaths for the eight months from January to August.
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Much of this year’s increase is due to Covid-related deaths. Like the rest of Australia, Victoria has faced a wave of Covid infections and deaths in 2022, even though 70 percent of its adults and nearly 90 percent of people over 60 are not just vaccinated but boosted.
More than two-thirds of Victoria’s Covid deaths have occurred in 2022 - the equivalent of about 200,000 deaths in the United States - even though Omicron is viewed as significantly milder than earlier variants.
At the same time, deaths from other causes are up substantially too, and rising caseloads from both Covid and other illnesses have put heavy pressure on the state’s hospital system. Wait times for non-urgent surgeries are now more than six months at many hospitals, compared to three or four last year.
Victoria is Australia’s second-most-populated state, with about 7 million people, mostly living in and around the city of Melbourne. Like all of Australia, it had very rigid lockdowns; in September 2020, police infamously arrested a pregnant woman for “inciting” an anti-lockdown protest.
It reports monthly all-cause deaths numbers about five days after the end of the month, more quickly than almost any other state or nation.
The database is robust even though the figures are very recent. State law in Victoria requires physicians and funeral directors to report deaths online. They are registered immediately and the figures rarely if ever change after the initial reported figure.
Victoria’s current Website only lists monthly death figures since September 2019, but the Wayback Machine includes an archived version from early August 2020 that includes figures for every month back to January 2010. Later in August 2020, for reasons that are not clear, the state removed all data from before mid-2019.
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