Excess Deaths Decline, but COVID-19 Continues to Impact Mortality in Australia

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has released new analysis indicating that excess mortality in the first quarter of 2023 is lower compared to the same period in 2022. However, despite the decline in excess deaths, COVID-19 continues to be a significant contributor to increased mortality in the country.

According to the ABS head of health statistics, Lauren Moran, the release provides a comprehensive overview of Australia’s excess mortality rates from January 2020 to March 2023. The analysis aims to help researchers understand the number of deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic and how it compares to the expected mortality rates across all states and territories.

Excess mortality is measured by examining all recorded deaths during a specific period and comparing them against a baseline of “expected deaths.” This baseline considers various factors, such as aging populations and other health-related variables. For the first quarter of 2023, excess mortality is estimated to be approximately 9 per cent, indicating that there is still a higher-than-expected number of deaths. However, this figure is lower than the 16.6 per cent excess mortality recorded in the first quarter of 2022.

During 2022, COVID-19 was identified as the primary contributor to excess mortality, with deaths during that period being influenced by the spread of the Omicron variant.

Lauren Moran encourages individuals, especially researchers, to delve deeper into the findings released today. The detailed article, available on the ABS website, provides further insights into the data and offers an associated methodology for interpreting the results.

As the country continues to monitor the impact of COVID-19 on mortality rates, the ABS’s efforts to provide comprehensive and up-to-date statistics aim to support evidence-based decision-making and public health strategies.