Texas-based statistician and finance specialist Mathew D. Crawford, who analyzes COVID-19 data on his Substack, joined “The Defender In-Depth” podcast today for a deep dive into insurance industry data and concerns about the sharp increase in mortality rates for young adults and higher-than-normal excess deaths.
The subject of last week’s top story in The Defender, data from the life insurance industry and from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that increases in mortality rates and excess deaths — which began with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic — continue, and are expected to continue in the coming years.
Crawford analyzed data indicating that despite insurance industry denials of a connection between the increased deaths and COVID-19 vaccines — which industry officials credit for reducing deaths — the most likely explanation for the sharp increases in mortality rates and excess deaths is the vaccines.
Crawford said a common fallacy known as Simpson’s paradox — akin to a statistical version of an optical illusion — can explain relatively lower death rates in more highly vaccinated U.S. states and counties, due to a near-perfect correlation with income and access to healthcare.
Signs were there from 2021 ‘but not many people were listening’
Crawford said the data indicate “an alarming increase in deaths among relatively young and working-aged people.”
“Obviously that’s a concern, and it should have been a concern two years ago,” he said. “We could already begin to see it then … and those of us who were paying close attention did see it then. But not many people were listening.”
Instead, when the Society of Actuaries released a report in 2022 indicating the sharp increase in deaths the year prior, what followed, according to Crawford, “was what just seemed like an obtuse intent to avoid discussion of the vaccines.”
‘Healthy user bias’ created false impression of COVID vaccine efficacy
According to Crawford, what the CDC data show “is that vaccine uptake pretty much follows a health-wealth curve,” which “matters in terms of how the actuaries might have been tricked.”
However, he said, “I don’t think that they really have been tricked. I think they’re just scared to say what’s going on.”
Crawford said the data indicate a “healthy user bias,” wherein “wealth does predict health” and where “wealthier counties have lower mortality rates.” Such correlations, according to Crawford, also existed pre-COVID-19.
“You can very clearly see that the death rate mirrors median household income across the entire country,” Crawford said. “Looking at the most granular level of data from the CDC itself, the more wealth you have in a county, the less death you have in general.”
Crawford said fatalities are more highly correlated with past death rates because “in healthier counties … They’re more conscientious and they tend to hold more college degrees and they generally have more wealth.”
Yet, actuaries came up with their own data, Crawford said, indicating “vaccine effectiveness” on the basis that states with higher vaccination rates had lower mortality.”
For Crawford, there are a “couple of things wrong” with this conclusion — one being that in Northeastern states that were subsequently highly vaccinated, a disproportionately large number of COVID-19 deaths occurred early in the pandemic. As a result, there were fewer people who were “low on health” later, when the vaccines were introduced.
“Even ignoring the fact that excess death gets redefined for a few states for that reason, what we have is … a Simpson’s paradox” situation, he said.
What this is, according to Crawford, is a situation where “there is this other variable at play.” In the case of COVID-19, this additional variable was “giving more vaccines to the people who are conscientious, who have more wealth, health and education,” which “results in a trend that goes in the opposite direction than what we would expect.”
Crawford said the data “that would appear to indicate that there’s small levels of [vaccine] effectiveness” instead indicate “median household income effects.”
“The conclusion the actuaries make that the vaccines were stopping excess death is completely unwarranted, and they really should know better,” he said. “I’ve broken it down on a state level and on a county level, and I can see for absolute certain that the healthy user bias makes it look like there’s a little bit of effectiveness. But there is none.”
He added: “When I see the Society of Actuaries coming forward and saying this … I think shenanigans. I think that that has to be a canned story,” he said.
Citing existing data and insurance industry statements that indicate higher-than-average excess deaths are expected through 2026, Crawford said to blame excess deaths “on one variable [COVID-19 effects] rather than something that seems to be pushing that variable from behind, meaning the vaccines, it seems obtuse.”
Michael Nevradakis, Ph.D., based in Athens, Greece, is a senior reporter for The Defender and part of the rotation of hosts for CHD.TV's "Good Morning CHD."
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