Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2021) Dementia deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia, AIHW, Australian Government, accessed 27 March 2023.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2021). Dementia deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia. Retrieved from https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/dementia/dementia-deaths-during-the-covid-19-pandemic-in-au
Dementia deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 22 April 2021, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/dementia/dementia-deaths-during-the-covid-19-pandemic-in-au
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Dementia deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia [Internet]. Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2021 [cited 2023 Mar. 27]. Available from: https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/dementia/dementia-deaths-during-the-covid-19-pandemic-in-au
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) 2021, Dementia deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia, viewed 27 March 2023, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/dementia/dementia-deaths-during-the-covid-19-pandemic-in-au
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COVID-19 is a disease caused by a new type of coronavirus—a large group of viruses known to cause respiratory infections. About 99% of COVID-19 deaths in Australia have been confirmed by laboratory testing (ABSa 2020). The data used in this report include both medical doctor and coroner certified deaths due to COVID-19.
Due to the public health importance of COVID-19, the WHO has directed that the new coronavirus strain be recorded as the underlying cause of death, that is, the main disease or condition causing death, when it is recorded as having caused or contributed to death. In Australia, it is rare for COVID-19 to be coded as an associated cause of death (ABS 2020b).
Data and period of analysis
This report uses ABS provisional mortality data, covering deaths that occurred in the first 10 months of 2020 (between 1 January and 27 October). This includes most deaths that occurred from the beginning of the pandemic in Australia to the end of the second Victorian outbreak in 2020.
This report refers to 2 ‘waves’ of the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia—by this we mean a rapid increase in the number of infections, a peak, and then a decline in the number of infections:
People who died due to or with dementia
People with dementia may die due to their dementia or from other conditions or injuries (such as influenza or a fall), so dementia may be recorded as an underlying or an associated cause of death on death certificate. In this report, people with dementia are looked at in two groups based on where dementia was recorded in the death certificate:
Most of the information in this report relates only to deaths that were certified by a medical doctor. At the time of writing, coroner-certified deaths were only available when a person died due to COVID-19 (and these are included in this report). However, roughly 1–2% of deaths where dementia is recorded as an underlying cause of death are usually certified by a coroner. While the analyses in this report are unlikely to be significantly affected by missing coroner certified deaths, the data are considered preliminary and subject to change, and results should be interpreted with caution. In an unknown proportion of cases, dementia may not be recorded at all, either because it is incorrectly missed from the death certificate or because the dementia legitimately did not contribute to death. As a result, the number of people with dementia recorded on their death certificate will not capture every person with dementia who died during the pandemic.
This section presents all deaths where dementia was recorded on a person’s death certificate during the first 10 months of the COVID-19 pandemic (referred to as ‘people with dementia’). It also presents key demographic characteristics and highlights distinct patterns among people and areas affected by COVID-19 outbreaks.
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