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Top Charts 22-03: 2021 excess deaths

Question:

How did 2021 excess deaths in Canada, US and UK compare?

Answer:

2021 again saw increased levels of mortality compared to previous expectations. Without wide vaccine rollout at the beginning of the year and new variants emerging towards the end, COVID-19 still had a significant impact on excess mortality in 2021. The increased levels of mortality experienced differed significantly between the US, UK and Canada.

The charts below show the percentage differences of actual deaths to expected deaths for the US, UK and Canada dating back as far as data is available.

Sources (data available at 4 March 2022)

US: Club Vita calculations based on data from the Human Mortality Database for years through 2018 and CDC data for 2019, 2020 and 2021. An estimate of under-reported deaths for North Carolina and West Virginia in the CDC data has been made for November-December 2021, based on CDC reported COVID-19 deaths. NOTE: US chart updated on 29 April 2022 to reflect latest available data. Most notably, data informing the underlying trend was updated resulting in higher estimates of excess death percentage for 2020 and 2021

UK: Club Vita calculations based on data from the Human Mortality Database, ONS and Public Health England

Canada: Club Vita calculations based on data from the Human Mortality Database for years through 2018 and Statistics Canada data for 2019, 2020 and 2021. The 2021 result has been determined using “adjusted” weekly deaths (i.e., actual deaths adjusted for late reporting) up to October 16, 2021, published by Statistics Canada, with the weekly actual deaths for the remainder of the year estimated as expected deaths increased based on excess non-COVID-19 deaths experienced over the eight weeks prior plus actual reported COVID-19 deaths reported by the Government of Canada.

Notes:

US: Expected number of deaths, calculated by taking the five-year running averages of observed annual deaths. Where the full five years of data is not available, simple linear regression over a proximate five-year period was used to obtain the expected number of deaths.

UK: Expected number of deaths calculated using a similar method as that in the CMI projection model for each year back to 1960-2019. For 2020 and 2021, simple linear regression over a proximate five-year period was used to obtain the expected number of deaths

Canada: Expected number of deaths calculated using a similar method as that in the CMI projection model for each year back to 1960-2019 with Canadian data. For 2020 and 2021, weekly expected deaths are published by Statistics Canada up to December 4, 2021, and the remaining weeks of 2021 were extrapolated by Club Vita.

Key takeaways:

  • Excess mortality figures in the UK, US and Canada over 2021 have been vastly different.
  • Canada saw far fewer excess deaths than the UK and US in both 2020 and 2021
  • Canada and the UK saw a significant drop in the number of excess deaths in 2021 compared to 2020. In contrast, the US saw an increase.
  • Whether these levels of increased deaths continue and for how long will be vitally important for pension plans and insurers trying to understand future longevity trends in the UK, US and Canada.
The key questions are:
  • Will these levels of excess mortality continue?
  • And if so, for how long? What do you think?
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