The Fiction of ‘Sudden Adult Death Syndrome’ – A Graphical Essay
By March of 2022, rates of mortality appeared to have reverted to normal, but a closer look reveals all age cohorts have paid a heavy price over the course of two years of poor public policy.
We have all seen reports of very young, healthy people “suddenly” dropping dead on the playing field or in the normal course of a day’s activities. And many observers will have speculated about the role of the mRNA therapies (the vaccines). To yet other observers, the question of the role of the vaccines is not a question at all. It’s a matter of SADS, “sudden adult death syndrome.” But, did these contrarians not just pull “SADS” out of the air to cover for the affirmatively harmful effects of the ersatz vaccines? What can available data tell us?
Ideally, analysis of the SADS and vax phenomena would involve getting access to individual-level data and doing some off-the-shelf analyses of individualized “hazard rates”: given a person’s age and other attributes, does vaccine status tell us anything about the incidence of, say, fatal cardiovascular events? Such event may be rare among younger people, but doubling or tripling the frequency of rare events still amounts to doubling or tripling the frequency of such events. Evidence tying vaccine status to SADS in any of its manifestations would amount to vivid evidence that vaccine mandates have imposed enormous harm. But, the people with access to such granular data (at insurance companies, say) have not proven to be forthcoming thus far, and it is up to the rest of us to go to war with the data we have.
For nearly two years now, independent researchers have worked out of weekly data on total fatalities from the CDC. Using these data amounts to looking out on the universe with a telescope that Galileo had assembled in his workshop. That telescope may have only afforded low resolution, but it was sufficient to discern important structure in our solar system if not beyond the solar system. Galileo was able to discern startling phenomena like the fact that the moons of Jupiter existed at all and orbited around a body (Jupiter) that was not the sun.
And, so. We look into CDC data and discern important structure:
From late March through late June 2020, the coronavirus phenomenon imposed fatalities on all but the youngest age cohorts far in excess of otherwise normal rates of mortality.
No big shock there, perhaps. Early on, there were COVID effects, but:
It was only in June 2020 that the coronavirus phenomenon started to impose an unusually high death toll on people younger than the age of 25.
We know that COVID fatalities were rare among young people. To the extent fatalities attributed to COVID were common at all, they were concentrated on very elderly people. That’s why the median age of death attributed to COVID has exceeded the median age of death from plain old death all around the world.
COVID fatalities were concentrated on immunocompromised people who, no surprise, tend to be the most elderly. But, that does not preclude a very young person from being severely immunocompromised and, thus, susceptible to severe COVID infection. The COVID toll did include some number of such young people.
That said, did the COVID toll take away people who would otherwise have had many years left on Spaceship Earth? Surely, there must have been some such people? But they have been few, brothers and sisters. The fact that the median of age attributed to COVID was so high was evidence of just that fact: they were few; most people who succumbed to COVID were not likely long for this world. Harsh, but true.
The data, crude as they are, back this up. The data also back up this harsh fact: an appreciable number of young people have perished over the last two years. An appreciable number of young people have perished over the last two years well in excess of the number of young people who could have been expected to perish. The “excess mortality” of young people has been stubbornly high, and, yet, young people were not succumbing to COVID. How could excess mortality among young people be so high?
We can imagine a few reasons. Vaccine mandates at the schools, at the universities and on the job may have imposed their toll. On top of that, lockdowns and diminished employment prospects might have induced some volume of people to fall out of productive routines and into less healthful routines. How many people have basically fallen off the grid and have been subsisting on government proceeds and occupying their time with alcohol, weed and video? Many of my immediate, younger neighbors do a lot of all that. They do not comprise the happiest bunch.
CDC data do not allow us to entirely sort out what is going on with younger people, but they do allow to discern that something nefarious has been going on and that whatever that something is has nothing to do with COVID fatalities. But, because mortality among younger people does not generate obviously spectacular numbers—it’s nothing like ancient chronicles of actual plague with people literally collapsing on the streets—the authorities or the media can ignore it or pass it off as a mysterious matter of SADS. From the media’s perspective, it is all very sad, but the phenomenon really is not that conspicuous, so it’s no big deal. The media can get away with ignoring it.
CDC data also allow us to discern that the population as a whole has continued to experience elevated mortality with much, if not most, of that mortality deriving from something other than COVID. To see this, consider the following sequence of graphs.
This graph features excess mortality by week and by age cohorts from the beginning of 2020 through the week ending June 4, 2022. I calculate excess mortality (by age cohort) by calculating a measure of benchmark mortality and then comparing actual mortality to benchmark mortality. The difference between actual mortality and benchmark mortality yields “excess mortality”.
I explain how I calculate excess mortality in earlier pieces. Examples include:
In this graph, the dark blue line indicates excess mortality for people aged 86 or higher. People in this cohort entered the initial breakout of COVID in March 2020 with negative excess mortality. An appreciably small volume of very elderly people were succumbing to the usual raft of seasonal conditions in the winter of 2020/21, but COVID most obviously started to concentrate its toll on just such people in March 2020. Indeed, in the week ending April 18, 2020, mortality among the very elderly exceeded the expected, benchmark weekly rate of about 17,000 by more than 7,000. That amounts to mortality about 40% greater than expected. The COVID toll was obvious.
It was only in March 2021 that excess mortality among the most elderly finally turned sharply negative. (The dark blue line is negative from March through June 2021.) Basically, it looks like COVID had finally burned through that population by March 2021. Burning through the population would have amounted to taking away the most vulnerable, in which case the population that remains would end up being healthier. In turn, total fatalities should decline sharply; excess mortality should turn negative. But, then from July 2021 through February 2022, excess mortality was sharply positive before again turning negative. Why didn’t excess mortality remain negative or close to zero? Hold that thought.
The orange line indicated excess mortality among people in the youngest age cohort of 0-24 years. It is not obvious that COVID or anything had any effect on these people. One can see, however, that excess mortality among all people 25 and older was non-trivial. COVID does appear to have imposed much of its toll on age cohorts greater than 24 years of age.
One can also see that the COVID phenomenon seems to be broken into two episodes. Excess mortality across all groups ran positive from March 2020 until March 2021. It remained elevated for working age people, but then excess mortality became elevated again from July 2021 through March 2022. Questions persist about how much adverse effects from the vaccines and from other non-COVID sources drove excess mortality through that second episode.
Let’s take the same data underlying this last graph and calculate excess mortality not in absolute terms (measured as numbers of excess fatalities) but in proportional terms (measured in proportion to benchmark mortality).
In this graph, excess mortality in the youngest cohort (0-24) and the cohort of people of prime working age (25-44) starts to stand out. First consider the orange line indicating excess mortality among people aged 0-24. Absolute numbers of excess fatalities may not be high (as indicated in the first graph), but the second graph indicates that the excess fatalities that did obtain started running consistently in excess of 10% starting in June 2020. Why was excess mortality among people who were most likely to just shake off COVID elevated at all? One possibility is that a small number of COVID fatalities could generate high excess mortality (in % terms), because mortality among the youngest people tends to be very low. But then note that excess mortality among just such otherwise healthiest people increases just as it is going negative or zero for the oldest Americans. Something other than COVID seems to be driving the action.
Let’s match these data up with vaccinations:
The grey area indicates the weekly volume of vaccine doses administered. The number of doses administered peaks in the middle of April 2021. It declines sharply but then peaks again in December 2021.
Note a few interesting results:
Excess mortality had already peaked for all but the youngest age cohort just as vaccinations got going.
The peak in vaccinations corresponds to the nadir of excess mortality for most age cohorts. It is not obvious that vaccinations had any positive effects.
Note also that it is just as the volume of doses is running up to its first peak that excess mortality (%) among younger people aged 0-24 and working age people (aged 25-44 and 45-64) started to increase. That does not prove that vaccinations induced higher excess mortality among the kinds of people least susceptible to COVID, but it does catch the eye. But, again, to really dig in and figure out what is going on, one would like to have access to individual-level data. Who was getting the vax, and were the vaxxed more likely to succumb to cardiovascular conditions or to conditions otherwise dismissed as SADS?
Let’s look at the same data, but this time let’s look at excess mortality (in % terms) as it accumulates over time.
The way to read this graph is: Each line reflects cumulative performance over time starting at the beginning of 2020. Each line indicates, at any given time, the total of excess fatalities accumulated since the beginning of January as a proportion of all fatalities that would have been expected up to the same point. So, for example, by the middle of February 2022, the 25-44 age cohort had experienced fatalities nearly 29% in excess of what it would have been expected to have generated all the way from the beginning of January 2020 through February 2022. That 29% is a big number.
The red line indicates the excess mortality for the United States as a whole across all age cohorts. As of June 4, 2022, the United States has experienced total excess mortality of 13.8%. It is surprising that that number is not much lower.
Several results come out of this graph:
There was much diversity in excess mortality across age cohorts before COVID hit in March 2020. Younger people were experiencing excess mortality of about 5%. Very elderly Americans were experiencing excess mortality as low as negative 2.75%.
That changed with the advent of COVID. All age cohorts, except the youngest cohort of 0-24, exhibited steep increases in excess mortality with the first wave of COVID in March 2020.
That first wave may have receded by May 2020, but note a strange thing: excess mortality for people of prime working age, 25-44, continued climb steeply all the way from March 2020 through August 2020. Why did these same people not enjoy some respite from May through June like almost everyone else did?
Note also that excess mortality among the youngest people (0-24) had been declining even as the first COVID wave was imposing its toll on everyone else. But excess mortality among these same people started to edge upward in May 2020.
Excess mortality among the youngest people had moderated by September 2020, but it never showed any signs of declining until April 2022, about a year-and-a-half later.
Indeed, excess mortality among the youngest people started to inflect upwards by March 2021, just as the first wave of vaccinations approached its peak.
The same goes for people as prime working age (25-44): excess mortality inflects upwards just as the first wave of vaccinations approached its peak.
Meanwhile, for all other cohorts, excess mortality had already peaked by February 2021. All these other people are experiencing some relief.
These lines indicate performance over time by age cohort, and, thus, one can think of them as revealing the results of a horse race. And note who is losing the race most badly by June 4, 2020. People of prime working age (25-44) have cumulatively performed the worst since the beginning of 2020, but that same cohort had been performing worse than all other cohorts since at least May 2020. It is hard not to think that the demands of lockdowns (for those cast out of work) and the demands of vaccine mandates and other mandates (for those still able to work) imposed a harsh toll on all of those people.
The next-worst performing cohorts were older people of working age (45-64) and people aged 65-74. The best performing cohort proves to be the one populated by the oldest Americans. They got through their COVID episodes, but even among them cumulative performance remains poor. Does something other than COVID (Isolation? The vaccines? Something else?) explain their poor performance. Why hasn’t cumulative excess mortality for these people reverted to zero?
The youngest cohort performs better than the United States average, but even it has performed poorly over time. It looks like something other than a small number of COVID fatalities in the early going has elevated excess mortality among the youngest people. Adverse vaccine effects look like a good place to look.
In the next essay I will look at the horse race by state. (Spoiler alert: California still lags Florida in performance notwithstanding the fact that the media has criticized Florida and extolled anything the governor of California has mandated. Also, the border states of Arizona, New Mexico and Texas perform worse than average. Do the strains imposed by unregulated and illegal immigration and smuggling have something to do with it?) But, to close here, let’s look at cumulative excess fatalities (by age cohort) in absolute numbers?
Here is how the numbers of cumulative excess fatalities add up from the beginning of 2020 through June 4, 2022:
More than 17,000 young people aged 0-24 have perished than would have been expected. That number should be close to zero. It affirmatively is not, and it would be implausible to amorphously blame COVID for this egregiously poor performance.
I submit that those numbers are not big enough in a country of 330 million to excite the interest of the establishment media. Instead, losing some number of healthy young people here or there to “sudden” events amounts to a modest number of unexplainable tragedies. That’s how the media treats these things.
Then there are the nearly 100,000 in “excess” fatalities among people of prime working age (25-44). How many of these fatalities should we attribute to adverse vaccine effects or to fentanyl overdoses?
The same goes for the 280,000 excess fatalities among older people of working age (45-64).
Overall, the United States has experienced excess mortality of about 1.15 million (out of about 8.35 million total fatalities) from the beginning of 2020 through June 4, 2022. Weekly excess mortality had finally come down to about zero by April of this year (2022), but will it remain diminished? Or might it even turn negative for some time as the most vulnerable in all age cohorts have already been taken away by either COVID, adverse vaccine effects, drug overdoses, or other avoidable causes of death? Or will it increase again?
Poor public policy in so many dimensions looks like an obvious culprit in the stubbornly elevated excess mortality in 2021 and 2022. Among the many “Church Committees” one would hope to see assembled, it would be nice to see one concentrating on health policies or other policies affecting health. Immigration policy, for example, will have facilitated the stream of Chinese-manufactured drugs across the southern border. The next essay’s results on state-specific performance will provide some clues about that.
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