Slow Covid vaccination maybe behind Netherlands' high mortality: report
Last year, the Netherlands counted around 15,000 more deaths than expected, likely due to Covid-19. That put excess mortality at about the same level as in 2020. Belgium had higher excess mortality than the Netherlands in 2020, but much lower last year. The high number of extra deaths in the Netherlands may be due to the country's slow start in vaccinating and boosting its citizens against Covid-19, Statistics Netherlands employee Ruben van Gaalen said to Trouw.
"In Belgium, excess mortality was higher in 2020 than in the Netherlands," said Van Gaalen, also a special professor of life-course dynamics at the University of Amsterdam. "But in 2021 you hardly see excess mortality there. Where are the differences with the Netherlands? Possibly in the vaccination approach. What you can actually establish is that Belgium started vaccinating and boosting earlier. We starting jabbing a bit late, and the booster shot campaign also started late."
Parliamentarian Pieter Omtzigt and several organizations for senior citizens recently called for scientific investigation into the high excess mortality in the Netherlands. The elderly unions think that delayed care or loneliness may also play a role in the higher mortality.
Van Gaalen said that this could not be ruled out in advance, but he expects Covid-19 to be the biggest culprit. Statistics Netherlands will publish the stats on causes of death in February or March. "Then you will see that Covid is really, for the most part, the explanation for the high excess mortality. This has been evident throughout the pandemic. Perhaps there is now an unexplained part. If there is, it will be small."
According to Van Gaalen, the hypothesis that vaccines themselves lead to higher mortality is nonsense. "In countries like Norway, Denmark, and Belgium, there is plenty of vaccination, and there you see lower excess mortality."
On Friday, Statistics Netherlands reported that an estimated 3,500 people died in the country last week. That was the fourth consecutive week of the number of deaths declining, and the first week there was no excess mortality in months.