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NZ Excess Deaths - Do we have a lot of Excess Deaths?

What Is Excess Mortality?

Every year there is an expected number of people who pass away due to progressive disease or accident.

This number is known as the Average Mortality Rate.

During Covid, many of the people who had long term terminal diseases passed away before their expected time because of the further complications of having the disease and not having the ability to cope with the extra impact.

When the number of deaths per year is greater than the expected number of deaths, this is known as 'excess mortality'.

Since March 2023, NZ has been reporting periods of 0% or less excess deaths - however this is misleading.

To explain this 'misleading' concept, we need to take a look at an example:

These are not real figures. I am just establishing the understanding.

Example 1: Expected Mortality Not Involving Covid

Let us say that the normal mortality rate is 10,000 people pass away per year

That would mean that during 2020 to 2025, the normal mortality would be:

  • 2020: 10,000
  • 2021: 10,000
  • 2022: 10,000
  • 2023: 10,000
  • 2024: 10,000
  • 2025: 10,000
Total expected deaths over this 6 year period = 60,000

Covid deaths were statistically biased towards people with 5 or more commodities. If covid had not appeared as a health risk, we would expect these people to pass away progressively over the period of 2020 to 2025. In our example that would be 60,000 people. However Covid accelerated their passing and instead of the deaths being recorded over 2020 to 2025, they were recorded as having happened 2020-2023.

This would mean we should expect an actual decrease in the 'average mortality rate' for a few years because the people who make up the average expected figures, have already passed away.

Example 2: Expected Mortality Reduction

  • 2020: 20,000
  • 2021: 20,000
  • 2022: 20,000
  • 2023: 5,000
  • 2024: 5,000
  • 2025: 5,000
You cannot use the average mortality rate as the baseline for excess mortality after a pandemic. The baseline figure must be adjusted for the people who passed away earlier than expected.


So if your average mortality comes back to the 'normal' quantity, then you have replaced the 'expected deaths' with people who were not expected to die.

This represents the impact of many other health related circumstances and are called excess deaths. You cannot return to the 'normal mortality rate' and expect this value to be the same as per all previous years. The expected deaths have already occurred.

We have excess deaths and an enquiry is warranted.