Learning from the pandemic: mortality trends and seasonality of deaths in Australia in 2020.
- Oxford University Press
- Publication Type:
- Journal Article
- International Journal of Epidemiology, 2022, 51, (3), pp. 718-726
- Issue Date:
AIM: To assess whether the observed numbers and seasonality of deaths in Australia during 2020 differed from expected trends based on 2015-19 data. METHODS: We used provisional death data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, stratified by state, age, sex and cause of death. We compared 2020 deaths with 2015-19 deaths using interrupted time series adjusted for time trend and seasonality. We measured the following outcomes along with 95% confidence intervals: observed/expected deaths (rate ratio: RR), change in seasonal variation in mortality (amplitude ratio: AR) and change in week of peak seasonal mortality (phase difference: PD). RESULTS: Overall 4% fewer deaths from all causes were registered in Australia than expected in 2020 [RR 0·96 (0·95-0·98)] with reductions across states, ages and sex strata. There were fewer deaths from respiratory illness [RR 0·79 (0·76-0·83)] and dementia [RR 0·95 (0·93-0·98)] but more from diabetes [RR 1·08 (1·04-1·13)]. Seasonal variation was reduced for deaths overall [AR 0·94 (0·92-0·95)], and for deaths due to respiratory illnesses [AR 0·78 (0·74-0·83)], dementia [AR 0.92 (0.89-0.95)] and ischaemic heart disease [0.95 (0.90-0.97)]. CONCLUSIONS: The observed reductions in respiratory and dementia deaths and the reduced seasonality in ischaemic heart disease deaths may reflect reductions in circulating respiratory (non-SARS-CoV-2) pathogens resulting from the public health measures taken in 2020. The observed increase in diabetes deaths is unexplained and merits further study.
Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: