Covid-19 became Australia’s third leading cause of death in 2022


According to a report published in the British Medical Journal, Covid-19 was the third leading cause of death in Australia in 2022. The report analyzed excess deaths data from the Actuaries Institute’s covid-19 mortality working group, which found that there were 20,200 more deaths in 2022 than would have been expected without the pandemic. This resulted in a total excess mortality rate of 12% for the year.

The analysis also revealed that most of the excess deaths occurred in people older than 65 years, but excess mortality was present in all age groups, with at least a 5% increase in deaths across all age groups in 2022.

The report stated that half of the excess deaths were due to Covid-19, including 172 deaths reported as being from long Covid. The remaining 34% of excess deaths had no mention of Covid-19 on the death certificate and represented excess mortality of 4%.

The top five leading causes of death in Australia remained unchanged since 2018, with ischaemic heart disease and dementia being the top two. However, in 2022, Covid-19 became widely prevalent in Australia, making it the third leading cause of death.

Of the non-Covid-19 excess deaths, ischaemic heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, diabetes, dementia, and cancer were all higher than predicted by between 2% and 17%. The report noted that while influenza circulated in Australia in 2022, deaths from respiratory diseases were lower than expected, but not as low as earlier in the pandemic.

The report also suggested that delays in emergency and routine care during the pandemic, as well as the association of Covid-19 with mortality risk from other diseases, including heart disease, may have contributed to the non-Covid-19 excess deaths.

The authors noted that multiple factors may be at play, and different factors may be more or less pronounced at various times. They also warned that the frequency and prevalence of future waves, as well as potential changes in severity from new Covid-19 strains, are likely to continue influencing mortality levels.

The report emphasized the importance of vaccination in minimizing deaths from Covid-19, reducing severe illness and long Covid. The authors also suggested that being ready to adopt new knowledge and technology, such as nasal spray vaccines and antiviral drugs, could help in suppressing the virus and reducing mortality rates.

In conclusion, the report highlights the devastating impact of Covid-19 on mortality rates in Australia in 2022. It underlines the need for ongoing vigilance, particularly in the face of future waves and new strains of the virus, and the importance of continuing to prioritize vaccination efforts to reduce Covid-19-related deaths.

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