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Nearly 20,000 more people in Australia died last year than expected



Nearly 20,000 more Australians died than what was forecast last year, with over half of the fatalities due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

New research from the Actuaries Institute released today estimated there was a 12 per cent hike in excess deaths during 2022, with coronavirus the reason for 10,300 extra mortalities and a contributing factor in an additional 2900.

There were 6,600 remaining excess deaths with no reference to COVID-19 on the death certificate.

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Researchers forecast Australia would have 172,000 deaths in 2022, but the actual figures were 12 per cent higher, known as "excess mortality".

The term alludes to the difference between the total number of fatalities recorded in a year, and the expected number of deaths.

The institute's chief executive Elayne Grace said the figures published today were a "stark reminder" of the impact of the pandemic.

"Although people have largely moved on with their lives beyond the lockdowns and border closures, the fact is that COVID-19 remains a key contributor to the majority of excess mortality."

Grace said that to have a 12 per cent excess mortality level over a 12-month period was exceptional.

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"It is not within normal levels of fluctuation in non-pandemic times," she said.

All states and territories, apart from the Northern Territory, had excess deaths ranging from 10 per cent to 15 per cent during 2022.

The pandemic played a role in many of the excess deaths because of three reasons, said spokeswoman for the Institute's COVID-19 Mortality Working Group, Karen Cutter.

"Firstly, mortality risk is higher subsequent to an acute Covid infection, and most Australians have now had COVID-19.

"Secondly, people have not accessed medical care when needed, either through inability [in emergency situations] or through fear/lack of opportunity [thus missing routine care earlier in the pandemic].

"Lastly, some of these deaths could be undiagnosed COVID-19 deaths."

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