The last two weeks of the Omicron outbreak have been the deadliest of the entire coronavirus pandemic, with four of the five highest daily death rates in the last week alone, figures reveal.
Yet despite the rising numbers, experts say we still don’t know enough about who is dying and why.
Here, we gather what information we know about the deaths from various government sources.
The data shows that for Australia’s third major wave of covid, older Australians continue to be over-represented in the death toll, even as younger Australians record far more cases.
And in New South Wales, where more detailed data is available, the protective effect of vaccines remains clear, with serious outcomes (deaths and ICU admissions) much less likely for those vaccinated with Covid, across all groups. old.
There were 1,653 deaths in Australia from the start of the pandemic to November 27, which is when the first The registered case of Omicron in Australia was announced. Since then, with a mix of the Delta and Omicron variants circulating during this time, there have been over 1,100 deaths:
On Tuesday alone, 78 deaths were reported this week. Before the current wave, the highest number of daily deaths was in September 2020, when Victoria recorded 59 deaths.
Those over 70 years of age accounted for nearly 80% of deaths in the initial waves through August of last year, and once again account for a similar proportion of deaths in the current wave:
Data from the federal Department of Health shows that the skew in deaths towards older age groups is occurring despite younger Australians accounting for a much higher proportion of infections:
The government does not publish the number of booster shots by age group in its daily statistics, so it is unclear what proportion of older people are protected by a third dose of vaccine or not.
In NSW, which publishes much more detailed information than the federal government or other jurisdictions in its weekly surveillance reportswe can see how the risk of serious outcomes changes with both age and vaccination status.
Figures in the report show the number of deaths or ICU hospitalizations, called “serious outcomes” in the report, as a proportion of total Covid cases, divided by age group and vaccination status. So, for example, out of 708 unvaccinated covid cases in the 70-79 age group, there were 171 people who died or ended up in the ICU, giving a serious outcome rate of 21.9%, compared to with a rate of 1.8% for vaccinated people.
These numbers show that older people face a higher rate of severe cases even when vaccinated. More importantly, however, they also show that vaccinated people of all age groups are less likely to die or require treatment in intensive care:
The NSW data defines an unvaccinated person as anyone who has not received a single dose of the Covid vaccine, and therefore includes those who were not eligible.
Health of New South Wales surveillance report it also shows that the vast majority of deaths through January 1, 2022 have occurred in hospitals. Relatively fewer people have died in nursing care or at home in NSW.
Notes and methods:
Covid deaths by jurisdiction and age pulled daily from the federal health department’s covid statistics page since early October by Guardian Australia. Data prior to this was mined by Ken Tsang
Daily and weekly estimates of Covid deaths used data from CovidLive.com.au
The health department defines a Covid death as a death in a probable or confirmed case where there is no clear alternative cause of death, such as a car accident. There should be no full recovery period from Covid-19 between illness and death.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism