Excess death rates are rising, but no one knows why: MPs want an explanation

Excess death rates are rising, but no one knows why: MPs want an explanation

Funeral directors have seen huge crowds since Christmas. Monota in Apeldoorn has seen hundreds more funerals for weeks. “It really takes all hands on deck to complete the planning,” says Monuta Funeral Care Director Corné Mulders. Funeral centers are full, it’s changing planning for getting services done.

The death rate is upset

This all has to do with excess mortality: more people die than would be expected. “The deaths are a little disturbing,” says CBS researcher Robin Van Galen. “Since the spring of 2022, there has been an increase in deaths again. In the last four weeks of 2022, the death rate was remarkably high: 15,819 people died, a quarter more people than usual.”

Central Statistical Office on Excess Mortality in 2022

He. She CBS Reports Based on provisional annual figures that 170,000 people died last year. This is 14,500 (9.3 percent) more than expected. The death rate was higher in each age group. The excess death rate in 2022 was slightly lower than in 2021 and 2020, but much higher than in years with severe flu waves, such as 2015 and 2018. There was no excess death rate in the first three months of the year 2022, but there was the end of the rally. Since that time, there have been excess deaths almost every week.

“We’ve seen waves like this before, but high mortality over such a long period is not uncommon,” says researcher Van Gallen. And the suspicion that Corona plays a major role. But halo may not explain everything.

Excess deaths (in the first nine months of 2022) were in greater numbers than deaths from the virus.

Totally wrong

Member of Parliament Peter Umtzigt has long argued for an independent, large-scale study of excess deaths, which also looks specifically at 2022. “An increase or decrease in the death rate of a few thousand people is usually normal during the two corona years (2020, 2021) That was 15,000 people a year. Very high. And that death rate remains very high in 2022: about 14,500 people.”

There is currently no definitive explanation for the persistent excess deaths, says researcher Van Galen. In addition to the halo, other unproven effects may also play a role. Like delayed care. During the Corona pandemic, a lot of care, for example cancer care, has been postponed due to the high pressure on hospitals. Therefore, researchers and MPs are increasingly pressing for research into this phenomenon.

More than a dozen studies are already underway, but there is no definitive answer yet.


Because the lack of clarity about the significantly high death rate in our country is food for speculation. Corona skeptics argue that this will be due to vaccinations against Corona.

CBS strongly disagrees. “We’re seeing the opposite. In countries where a lot of people are vaccinated against Corona, like New Zealand, we don’t see any excess deaths at all. Vaccinations actually have a positive effect on people’s health to prevent disease or death.”

“Speculation about the causes of excess deaths is happening enough in this file,” says Rep. Umtzigt. He wants to expand the studies into 2022.” CBS investigated whether the vaccines led to death in the two months following vaccination in 2021 and found no indications of that. Now you have to extend that research into 2022 and also provide the data to scientists for availability. For those who want to do research.

cancer research

PVV Representative Fleur Agema agrees. The fact that ‘natural remedies’ have been postponed due to Corona care may cause additional deaths. “We see a lot of excess deaths in the group between the ages of 50 and 65. Isn’t that amazing? If there are more deaths in this group because these people did not receive regular care because of the government’s approach to Corona, for example cancer care, Then we have to do something.”

Agema finds it incomprehensible that the extent of the impact of years of life lost due to delayed care could not be detected on an urgent basis. Omtzigt: “If the excess deaths are due to the cessation of cancer screenings, the government should allocate significant additional funds to make up for all the missed examinations very quickly. And if the lung virus is the cause, we know that more funds are needed for corona research that must.” stops.”

mine field

But this requires access to all public data, which has been anonymized in such a way that results can’t be traced back to individuals, stresses Omtzigt, who calls the research a “minefield.” RIVM and CBS keep track of the data, but not everything released and shared is privacy-related. For example, specific data about underlying suffering, genetic diseases, and living context.

Excess Mortality Working Group

The fact that sharing data is so difficult upsets MPs. Agema: “I don’t see why they can’t make two groups: vaccinated and unvaccinated. And look at the excess mortality within those two groups. Then we’ll have answers.”

The House of Representatives has had a working group on excess death rates for several months now. Wieke Paulusma, Member of the D66 Parliament, is a member of this. She says that in our country, compared to other countries, it is relatively difficult to share health data.

“We have all kinds of databases where patient data is stored, but these are separate parts. We have to look at how we can best share data and data, within the limits of what is possible. Of course we have to be careful and work within the rules, but data sharing is very important to get Facts on the table and health promotion in the Netherlands.”

for exchange

Paulusma even advocates sharing data at the European level in order to get much better insights. “Not only to explain excess deaths, but also to improve our healthcare,” she says. “Scandinavia, for example, knows that some chronic diseases are relatively common in some parts of the country thanks to health data sharing. And, importantly, you can then make a policy about that.”

At the end of April, the working group will present the first results and a discussion will follow.

Cooper response

Health Minister Ernst Kuipers called the rising death rate “a very important topic”. He points to the many studies that are being done and says: wait and see. It cannot yet say when these results will be available. “It will take some time, as these are complex investigations.”

Kuipers describes linking different data files together, which was successful, as an important step. “That was really complicated in and of itself, but we took clear steps on that.”

Continue searching

Kuipers is currently reluctant to include 2022 in the studies, as MP Omtzigt wants, among others. “I think it’s very important that we first look at 2020 and 2021. There’s been previous research on this, and you want to be able to compare data from different studies,” Kuipers says. “Let’s finish that first. And then we’ll see what kind of follow-up research it takes. The follow-up study may also focus on 2022.”

When asked what Kuipers himself believes is the cause of the high excess death rates, he refers to the Corona outbreak and the deaths that have resulted. In addition, according to him, there could be all other possible causes.

“This may relate to delays in care in times of corona. This may relate to population screening for cancer that has been paused. There are other reasons to take into account, but it is very important not to speculate, but first to do careful research.”

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