In the past year many are counting deaths, but the numbers have no meaning without the context of a relevant time period, population and history. The most counted country is probably Sweden, a stubborn dissenter that refused lockdowns, mask mandates and contact tracing. By the time of this writing, 14,349 Swedes have reportedly died from the coronavirus.
«Flu year» versus calendar year
The statistical alternative, which may be called «flu year», contains a full winter season. Annual mortality is calculated from the beginning of the flu season, which is usually counted from week 40 , till week 39 in the following year . Thus, the coronavirus waves in the spring and summer of 2020 belong to the 2019–2020 flu year, whereas the last winter wave belongs to the current flu year which will end in September. The concept of «excess mortality» is a little abstract.
Mortality in Sweden by flu year
The graph shows the annual mortality in Sweden per million people in the last 22 flu years, where each flu year is labeled according to the calendar year in which it ends. The general downward trend reflects a consistent increase in life expectancy in Sweden for many years. Experienced data analysts will attest that the fluctuations around the line are generally small and expected until 2018 .
Mortality in Sweden in the current flu year
I chose to compare the mortality in Sweden in the current flu year to the corresponding mortality in 2017–2018. The graph shows a low mortality wave at the end of 2017 and a noticeable wave in February-March 2018 . This winter, the mortality wave coincided with the coronavirus wave and its peak in late December. A secondary coronavirus wave, which appeared in mid-February, half way through the decline of the former, did not result in a secondary mortality wave.
In that winter, the excess mortality rate in Europe attributed to the flu was at least twice as high as in Sweden.
Source: Eyal Shahar |Medium