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Government Revises Excess Death Calculation Method, Leading to 65 Percent Decrease

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According to some statisticians, the reforms are just a way to adjust for an aging population. However, others argue that it is a convenient method to lower the unexplained death rate.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has announced a change in how it calculates excess death rates, leading to a 65 percent reduction in last year’s figure. Now the ONS has revised the number of excess deaths in 2023 from 31,442 to 10,994 using its new method, which has been implemented to account for changing demographics, with the population growing through immigration and aging as the post-war generation of “baby boomers” continues to pass the age of 70.

The high mortality rate over the past two years has led to debates in Parliament and calls for an inquiry as to why excess deaths in younger age groups had reached 12–13 percent, with the overall excess death rate standing at around 6 percent using the old method of calculation. Previously, figures were calculated based on how deaths compared to the five-year average, without taking into account changes in population.

Professor Norman Fenton, a mathematician at Queen Mary University London, has repeatedly called for an investigation into excess deaths and has asked the ONS to provide data sets to settle the question of whether or not the COVID-19 jabs are a driver of the deaths and to determine if they saved more lives than they took, as the government claims.

‘The Easiest Way to Manipulate Results’

He said on social media platform X that the ONS has been “massively underestimating” the population for years because of factors including illegal immigration, and that by deciding to account for those previously unaccounted for people, this would be an effective way to suddenly lower the excess death rates.

He said: “The biggest problem with excess deaths estimates – and the easiest way to manipulate the results – relates to ‘unknown’ population changes. On the assumption that the deaths of even previously unaccounted for people do get registered, this means that the baseline number of deaths per 100,000 people has been consistently overestimated because the denominator is underestimated.

“If you suddenly decide (as I believe the ONS did recently) that the population is bigger than you thought it was and apply that new population total only to the recent excess deaths estimates then it is inevitable you will revise excess death numbers downward.”

Mr. Fenton added that he has always said that excess deaths are a “problematic measure.”

“There’s no agreed method for establishing baselines or incorporating demographic changes. Results [are] highly sensitive to small changes in modelling assumptions; Governments exploit this for political purposes, e.g. ONS here.”

Oldest ‘Baby Boomers’ Reaching Life Expectancy

Jamie Jenkins, a former ONS statistician, said on X that the numbers used by the body had been “unfit for purpose for a while.”

“The old method weren’t [sic] great. We got thousands of people who were born after the second world war, known as the baby boomers, and a massive bulge in the population, hitting around life expectancy. So if you count how many deaths you see at the moment versus, say an average of five years before the pandemic, you get massive excess, mainly among older people. You need to adjust for this demographic shift.

He said that many people posting online about excess deaths “don’t take into account this significant population boom that’s now dying.” But he added that even when the aging demographics were accounted for, “there are still higher than expected deaths among younger age groups.”

He said that deaths in the 35–54 age group are 10 percent higher than expected based on pre-COVID-19 pandemic death rates and called for analysis of patients’ medical records and death certificates to help get to the bottom of the causes.

Number of Deaths in Lockdown Era Also Revised Down

Sir David Spiegelhalter, emeritus professor of statistics at the University of Cambridge, said in a statement there is no “correct” method for assessing excess deaths, but welcomed the new “solid and model-based” methodology, which he said was in contrast to the “rather ad-hoc method” used before.

He said the new method “produces rather different, but more reasonable, pre-COVID-19 estimates, although the estimates for the Covid-19 period are not changed substantially.”

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