The shift of percent excess mortality from zero-COVID policy to living-with-COVID policy in Singapore, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong SAR

Xiaohan Cao, Yan Li, Yunlong Zi, Yuyan Zhu

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Introduction: With the economic recession and pandemic fatigue, milder viral variants and higher vaccine coverage along the time lay the basis for lifting anti-COVID policies to restore COVID-19 normalcy. However, when and how to adjust the anti-COVID policies remain under debate in many countries. Methods: In this study, four countries (Singapore, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand) and one region (Hong Kong SAR), that have shifted from the zero-COVID (ZC) policy to or close to the living-with-COVID (LWC) during or after the Omicron outbreak, were selected as research objects. All-cause mortality data were collected for these objects from 2009 to 2019. The expected mortality was estimated by a simple linear regression method. Excess mortality over time was calculated as the difference between the expected mortality and the observed mortality. Finally, percent excess mortality (PEM) was calculated as the excess mortality divided by the expected mortality. Results: In the examined four countries, PEM fluctuated around 0% and was lower than 10% most of the time under the ZC policy before 2022. After shifting to the LWC policy, all the examined countries increased the PEM. Briefly, countries with high population density (Singapore and South Korea) experienced an average PEM of 20–40% during the first half of 2022, and followed by a lower average PEM of 15–18% during the second half of 2022. For countries with low population density under the LWC policy, Australia experienced an average PEM of 39.85% during the first half of 2022, while New Zealand was the only country in our analysis that achieved no more than 10% in average PEM all the time. On the contrary, Hong Kong SAR under their ZC policy attained an average PEM of 71.14% during the first half of 2022, while its average PEM decreased to 9.19% in the second half of 2022 with LWC-like policy. Conclusion: PEM under different policies within each country/region overtime demonstrated that the mortality burden caused by COVID-19 had been reduced overtime. Moreover, anti-COVID policies are suggested to control the excess mortality to achieve as low as 10% in PEM.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1085451
JournalFrontiers in Public Health
Volume11
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 20 Mar 2023

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • living-with-COVID policy
  • percent excess mortality
  • vaccine
  • zero-COVID policy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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