Excess mortality continues in August; Scientists struggling to research the cause
In August, about 1,300 more people died than expected for the month, Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reported on Friday. There was excess mortality every week of the month. Scientists are having a hard time researching the cause of the ongoing excess mortality in the Netherlands because of the health authorities’ privacy rules, the Volkskrant reported.
According to CBS, an average of 250 more people died than expected per week in August. The month covered five weeks - weeks 31 to 35 of 2022. There was also excess mortality in July when an average of 350 more people than expected died per week. The excess mortality was mainly visible among people over the age of 80 and those in long-term care institutions like nursing homes.
Parliament has asked for an in-depth investigation into the cause of this continuing excess mortality, but scientists are finding it difficult to deliver, research financier ZonMW said in a letter to parliament on Thursday. To determine whether the excess mortality is linked to the coronavirus, scientists need data on who has been vaccinated, tested positive for the virus, and died. But the privacy rules prevent such figures from being linked together, health institutions RIVM and GGD say, according to the Volkskrant.
The scientists aren’t accusing the health authorities of trying to cover anything up, care researcher Robert Verheij said to the newspaper. Only that their “risk-averse behavior” is standing in the way of coming to the bottom of this issue. “We have no reason to assume that something is not right, but it is unwise that research can only be carried out by parties that are also involved in the implementation of the policy, as is the case with the RIVM and GGD.”
According to the scientists, this requires a public discussion about the balance between the importance of research and individuals' control over the data that organizations have on them.