In January to March 2022, 760 people died in Iceland, a sharp increase of 30% compared with the previous year. Excess mortality in the first quarter against the average for the past five years is 28%.
Chief Epidemiologist Thorolfur Gudnason, who recently fell seriously ill with COVID-19 despite triple vaccination, which according to him provides excellent protection against serious illness, says Covid may explain this increase. However, as 64 people have died with COVID-19 since the start of the year, this might explain at most a third of the increase of 168 deaths, as it is unknown what proportion of the 64 deceased actually died from Covid rather than with Covid but from a different underlying cause (in England and Wales this proportion is 64%, according to official data). Two deaths following vaccination were reported in the first quarter – though the under-reporting rate of vaccine injuries in Iceland is unknown.
What, then, explains deaths jumping by 28%, from an average of 592 over the previous five years – fluctuating between a minimum of 560 and a maximum of 620 – to 760 in 2022?
The explanation for most of those excess deaths is clearly not COVID-19, and the breakdown of deaths by cause is not yet available. Judging from weekly data available it seems the bulk of the excess mortality was among the over-70s. Mass vaccination was mostly over by autumn 2021, but in late November, December and January about a third of the population, predominantly people middle-aged and older, got their third dose of COVID-19 vaccine.