New Zealand’s all-cause death drop

This article is based on a link and some notes Jeremy Harris sent to me. I’ve written my own analysis, but it’s pretty much the same (as far as I can tell) as Jeremy’s own thoughts.

Actuary analysis shows that New Zealand’s all-cause death figures have dropped in 2020, by around a tenth. (If we look at the proportion of the population who die each year there’s been a drop of roughly a tenth of one percent). Here’s some graphs to demonstrate (click to enlarge).

Young people aren’t affected at all, though, and the middle-aged only slightly. The impact has been almost exclusively on the elderly, and the higher the age group, the more the effect.

This drop is likely due to New Zealand closing the borders rather than lockdown, because (a) NZ relied on border closures more than lockdowns, and (b) countries with lockdowns didn’t see this happen (and lockdowns can kill extra people if they’re too aggressive).

We already know that in normal times a lot of elderly deaths are caused by viruses which aren’t very dangerous to most people finishing off some people already near death. Generally such people are either too frail to cope with a virus (frailty is the biggest predictor of Covid death, for eg), and/or they have immunosenescence. So probably some of these sorts of viruses (influenza, for example) come from international travellers bringing it back with them into the country.

So closing your borders and requiring long quarantines for those allowed in does prevent viruses from getting into your country. (Not a surprise, we’ve always known that international travel spreads disease.) So it may give a few elderly people near death a bit longer to live, which is good.

But that also means you’re building up an unprecedented stock of ‘dry tinder’ (for want of a better term) who will, soon after you open the borders, get sick when a load of new viruses flood in, overwhelm the hospitals, and die off quickly and in number.

And if you don’t open the borders most of these people will still die before too long anyway, as they are near end-of-life now.

So you’ll have a similar mortality over, say, a five-year period. But in the meantime you’ll have smashed your country’s GDP, imprisoned your population, and given the state a massive expansion of powers.

That doesn’t sound like a good deal to me. It’s not that I’m opposed to strict border controls; in fact, I’m quite happy with the idea of reasonably strict border controls in general. But not that sort of medical/quarantine border. Nor am I a fan of turning your country into medical fascist state that freaks out over what is, at the public health level, a fairly mild disease. That isn’t psychologically healthy, and it’s pointless when you look at the difference it’s making.

Update: Someone on Twitter said that there had been a glut of deaths in the over-70s in New Zealand in the last three years, so I thought I should check out the country’s recent death figures.

Here’s a graph of all-cause mortality done with data from here and here (the latter for the 2019 number).

From this it does look like 2017, 2018 and 2019 had excess mortality. But when I used New Zealand’s population numbers to do a death rate per 1000 it could be seen that in fact those years were normal.

But what about the over-70s? I couldn’t locate those specific figures. On the one hand one may take the view that as most deaths are invariably of the over-70s then probably the situation with them in recent years is similar. On the other hand, one might take the view that as there has been a bit of an increase in the rate of population growth in the last five years (as can be seen from the graph below) then we would expect less of this increase to have filtered through into the over-70s at this point, so the increased number of deaths (which is mostly going to be over-70s, because it always is mostly them) does indicate that more over-70s than usual have died. I don’t have the numbers to decide this.

Graph from here.

Update 2: Jeremy has been touch to add some further thoughts (never trust anyone with pink hair, I say).

This likely means that NZ is going to have multiple competing epidemics of varying severity when we open, or should I say “if”, as I think “if” is now a possibility. For example, this moron – who has been the “expert” talking most to the media – is now saying a vaccine won’t be effective, so we basically have to stay closed forever. I don’t understand how these people can be called scientists.

Anyway when we open these competing epidemics are likely to be severe, with or without a vaccine, and far worse than if we had just followed our pandemic plan (i.e. Sweden) in March. $140 billion dollars (50% of GDP), civil liberties crushed and millions of years of life lost via economic harm affecting public health to make the situation worse.

At yet the general public is engaged in rousing bouts of back-slapping one other and denigrating the rest of the world. Pride goeth before the fall.


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7 thoughts on “New Zealand’s all-cause death drop

  1. What such events clearly demonstrate is that the “Western” style of government is inadequate. We “elect” people to control our lives who have little or no scientific knowledge – often no ability to understand elementary mathematics.

    Instead, we need a way to choose people who are capable of handling the extremely difficult tasks of government.

    The only country I know of that has done this is China, where virtually all senior government officials are qualified scientists or engineers. The proof of the pudding is in the eating: China has improved the health, wealth and happiness of its citizens more in the past 50 years than any other nation in known history – and it continues to forge ahead.

  2. Government – general term, maybe management is better – is more than expertise in one technical area.

    ‘The science’ is currently governing us whether the politicians understand it or not, without any consideration of economics, society, Humanity. Government is a trade-off, cost/benefit analysis and critical analysis and it is this which politicians should be good at but are not.

    That isn’t happening. Instead the Chinese method has been adopted, tyranny, abuse of Human Rights as determined by scientists with a singular goal to protect healthcare resources to be kept in reserve to deal with a single disease which will have no serious consequences for 99,9% of the population. You may go untreated and die of any disease except Covid because not being treated or dying from the latter looks bad for the politicians.

    And just because people in Government might have a scientific background doesn’t make them angels and saints, they can still be liars, self-serving, corrupt and incompetent.

    As for China’s record – ask the people in its retraining and punishment camps.

  3. Tom Welsh: “China has improved the health, wealth and happiness of its citizens more in the past 50 years than any other nation in known history – and it continues to forge ahead.”

    Too true. Most of us in the West are totally unaware of just how much China has advanced — and of how irrelevant Communism is to government in China today.

    The difference (personal view) is that China’s rulers all agree on long-term objectives — Never again will they suffer a Century of Humiliation at the hands of English opium dealers and Japanese militarists. China’s rulers put China’s interests first — what a concept! China’s rulers have also realized that it is cheaper and faster to buy Western politicians than to fight them. Of course, China has also benefitted from being able to absorb Western technology rather than having to re-invent it.

    One of the clearest examples of the results of China’s focus on long-term objectives is in its amazing High Speed Rail network. In the time that California and England have pussy-footed around paying lawyers & bureaucrats not to build HSR, China has built a modern efficient heavily-used system with about 15,000 miles of track — including engineering marvels like 100 mile viaducts and 30 mile tunnels. For sure, there were local interests devastated by all this construction, but China’s rulers put the general good ahead of local interests.

    Same China where the CovidScam started — and where life is now fairly much back to normal. Makes one wonder.

  4. The covid virus does not exist. All that’s happened is the common cold being renamed and people testing positive for, all to work people into a constant fearful state to more readily accept being repeatedly vaxed with poisons to exterminate them.

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