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A year-long investigation by The Washington Post into declining life expectancy in the U.S. for people ages 35-64 blamed chronic health conditions brought on by multiple factors, including “poverty, racism, distrust of the medical system, fracturing of social networks and unhealthy diets built around highly processed food.”
The Post analyzed data from the past five decades, through December 2019, and determined that life expectancy peaked in 2014, at 78.9 years.
The investigation concluded today’s mortality crisis did not flare overnight, but rather “developed over decades, with early deaths an extreme manifestation of an underlying deterioration of health and a failure of the health system to respond.”
Critics of the Post’s series told The Defender they questioned why exhaustive data analyses of excess deaths excluded 2020-2022 data, when major insurance companies in the U.S. and Germany reported that the biggest leap yet in all-cause mortality occurred in 2021, after the rollout of COVID-19 mRNA vaccines.
“The obvious question is why would they focus mostly on data only up to 2019? And what is causing the huge rise in excess mortality especially among young people?” asked Silicon Valley entrepreneur and engineer Steve Kirsch, founder of the Vaccine Safety Research Foundation. “And why are so many people dying unexpectedly and it’s only happening to vaccinated people?”
In 2021, life expectancy reached 76.4, the lowest since the mid-1990s, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
It was the excess deaths due to COVID-19 and other causes in 2020 and 2021 that led to an overall decline in life expectancy between 2019 and 2021, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
According to the CDC, excess deaths are “counts of deaths” in a given place and time period that “are compared with historical trends to determine whether the number of deaths is significantly higher than expected.”
Unraveling the mystery of sinking life expectancy
The Post series was compiled by a team of reporters and editors who “spent the past year examining the nation’s crisis of premature death by analyzing county-level death records from the past five decades, along with U.S. and international life expectancy data, demographic and voting pattern figures, and excess death projections for the United States and other countries,” Post reporter Dan Keating wrote in the introduction to the series.
The Post said it set out to study why U.S. life expectancy, “long regarded as a singular benchmark of a nation’s success” sank even before the coronavirus pandemic.
To unravel the mystery of sinking life expectancy caused by excess deaths, Post reporters crisscrossed the U.S., as well as Europe and South America, and interviewed “scores of clinicians, patients and researchers.”
In examining mortality data, reporters and editors “focused mainly on data before 2020 to reflect long-term trends, which were exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic,” Keating said.
The newspapers’ key finding was that chronic illnesses, led by increases in cancer and heart disease, diabetes and liver disease, were killing far more Americans than highly publicized crises involving opioids and gun violence.
In a series of long stories, the Post blamed mistrust of the medical system and poor lifestyle choices like smoking, processed foods, and lack of exercise, especially in the Republican-led rural South and Midwest, as major culprits in the trend of excess deaths, even among children.
According to Keating, a data specialist who taught data journalism at the University of Maryland-College Park School of Journalism, the Post’s analysis “concentrated on people in the prime of life — 35-64 years old — because U.S. deaths among people that age are vastly greater than in peer nations.”
The newspaper relied on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization, the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Rostock, Germany, the University of California at Berkeley, the French Institute for Demographic Studies, and other institutions.
The Post said it used “customized data analyses … performed by a health-care analytics company and by a federal health agency.”
The Post said it gathered life expectancy and excess death data from the U.S. and “21 peer countries going back to 1980.”
The Post excludes research on chronic disease deaths from COVID vaccine
Dr. Pierre Kory, president of the Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance and a clinician who has treated many patients who experienced adverse effects from COVID-19 mRNA vaccines and developed long-COVID symptoms, said he was struck by how the Post devoted significant resources to the question of rising U.S. deaths from chronic disease, yet excluded research implicating toxic mRNA vaccines in cancers, heart disease, and a host of other illnesses causing disabilities and chronic disease deaths, not just sudden deaths.
Kory said he was mystified why the Post focused its analysis of U.S. life expectancy data on the 40 years before 270 million Americans, or the great majority of the population, received COVID-19 mRNA vaccines.
The paper ignored reporting by insurance companies, doctors, scientists, journalists, peer-reviewed medical literature, and the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) documenting that U.S. chronic illnesses and death rates soared in 2021 after the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, he said.
He questioned why the Post excluded research on how the mRNA vaccine’s toxic spike protein triggered debilitating or deadly illnesses with the vaccine rollout in 2021.
“The aggressive suppression and/or dismissal of the overwhelming data showing a tight temporal association of the start of the COVID vaccination campaign with explosive rises in both disabilities and deaths among the youngest and healthiest Americans continues apace,” Kory told The Defender.
Dr. Peter McCullough also criticized the Post’s investigation. “I am concerned that increasing all-cause mortality resulting from the COVID-19 mass vaccination program is being whitewashed as a ‘lifestyle crisis.’”
McCullough told The Defender:
“According to the COVID States report, 75% of all Americans took one or more vaccines. Among those, 95% accepted novel mRNA injections coding for the potentially lethal SARS-CoV-2 Spike protein. COVID-19 vaccine injuries, disabilities, and death have been the subject of >3400 peer-reviewed publications.”
McCullough cited the research he did with other scientists.
“In a paper by Hulscher et al., in 73.9% of vaccinated patients who died and underwent autopsy, the vaccine was determined as the cause of death,” he said. “This means that among largely vaccinated populations, unexpected death with no terminal illness and without any obvious explanation, should be considered a result of fatal COVID-19 vaccine injury until proven otherwise. By extension, secular increases in all-cause mortality should be conservatively attributed to the COVID-19 mass vaccination campaign.”
Denis Rancourt, Ph.D., former physics professor and lead scientist for 23 years at the University of Ottawa, pointed to his recent study that found a “definite causal link” between vaccine rollouts in 17 countries and an unprecedented rise in all-cause mortality.
Researchers with the Canada-based Correlation Research in the Public Interest, found in 17 countries, comprising 9.10% of the worldwide population and 10.3% of worldwide COVID-19 injections, no rise in all-cause mortality after the World Health Organization declared a global pandemic on March 11, 2020 — until the global mass vaccination program began.
Mass vaccination with the mRNA shots led to an unprecedented rise in deaths in all 17 countries that corresponded directly to vaccine and booster rollouts, Rancourt said.
The authors’ statistical analysis of mortality data showed that the fatal toxicity risk-per-injection increased dramatically with age, but averaged 1 death per 800 injections across all ages and countries.
With 13.5 billion injections given up to Sept. 2, 2023, Rancourt estimated 17 million people died from COVID-19 vaccination worldwide.
John Leake, a journalist and author with McCullough of “The Courage to Face COVID-19: Preventing Hospitalization and Death While Battling the Bio-Pharmaceutical Complex,” cited the ongoing data analysis by Edward Dowd, former BlackRock portfolio manager and author of “‘Cause Unknown’: The Epidemic of Sudden Deaths in 2021 & 2022.”
Leake also pointed to the 2022 report by a $100-billion U.S. insurance company that found “a 40% increase in death rates for 18-to-64-year-old individuals across the U.S., when comparing Q3 [third quarter] 2021 data to pre-pandemic data from the same period in 2019.”
The data from the Indianapolis, Indiana-based insurance giant One America was reflected “in our business across the U.S.,” the company said, and “aligns with what we’re seeing in national industry data.”
“Insurance actuaries are the smartest statisticians out there,” Leake said. “They’ve been studying American health, smoking, lack of exercise and a terrible diet for the last 75 years,” he said.
So why, he asked, was there a sudden dramatic leap in mortality in 2021?
And why, Leake asked, did the Post stop its exhaustive data analysis of excess deaths in the pre-pandemic year of 2019?
“That is the anomalous period,” he said. “To exclude it from the story is like “writing a history of World War II up to the Poland invasion and saying, ‘We’ll stop there.’”
Five takeaways from the Post’s year-long investigation into U.S. excess deaths:
1. Heart disease, cancer leading cause of death for people 35-64, but other fatal illnesses also now more common
“Heart disease and cancer remained, even at the height of the pandemic, the leading causes of death for people 35 to 64,” the paper reported.
“And many other conditions — private tragedies that unfold in tens of millions of U.S. households — have become more common, including diabetes and liver disease. These chronic ailments are the primary reason American life expectancy has been poor compared to other nations.”
The Post concluded that “while opioids and gun violence have rightly seized the public’s attention, stealing hundreds of thousands of lives, chronic diseases are the greatest threat, killing far more people between 35 and 64 every year.”
During the pandemic, the U.S. mortality crisis that developed over decades was “highlighted,” the Post said, “for all the world to see: It killed far more people per capita in the United States than in any other wealthy nation.”
Despite “breakthroughs in medicine and nutrition that should be boosting average life spans,” the Post wrote, the years-long mortality crisis has been exacerbated by “a sink-or-swim culture,” and lack of government spending compared to peer countries “on preventive medicine and social welfare generally.”
2. Poor Americans are dying earlier than rich ones
“The best barometer of rising inequality in America is no longer income. It is life itself,” the Post said.
The paper found that “the death gap — the difference in life expectancy between affluent and impoverished communities — has been widening many times faster” than even the dramatic increases in wealth inequality.
Higher death rates especially plague the rural South and Midwest.
“Forty years ago, small towns and rural regions were healthier for adults in the prime of life,” the Post reported. “The reverse is now true. Urban death rates have declined sharply, while rates outside the country’s largest metro areas flattened and then rose.”
Even before the pandemic, “Adults 35 to 64 in the most rural areas were 45 percent more likely to die each year than people in the largest urban centers.“
The Post featured several rural people to illustrate its data findings, including Indiana hotel worker Janette Kern, originally from Kentucky, who said her family members all die in their 60s from heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
The paper included the tragic case of Kern’s 25-year-old son who died from a brain aneurysm on Jan. 3, 2021, with no known previous health risk except headaches, suggesting bad lifestyle choices were the cause.
The paper did not explore what McCullough said must be considered, given the overwhelming data on mRNA vaccine toxicity — a possible vaccine cause for the young man’s death.
3. A 49-year-old woman from Ohio can expect to live to 81, or 8 years fewer than her counterpart in Japan
The Post urged readers to compare their life expectancy to people in other countries and other U.S. states in a data-driven app and story.
A 49-year-old Ohio woman can expect to live to about the same age as a 49-year-old woman from Ecuador, the paper said.
“It is a paradox that confounds the world,” the Post reported. “The United States is among the wealthiest nations in history, and yet its citizens die earlier than those in some poorer nations.”
In 1990, U.S. life expectancy was in the middle of the pack of wealthy nations, the Post said, “before it flatlined, drifted downward and then cratered during the coronavirus pandemic. That is despite having much of the world’s most cutting-edge medical research and higher health expenditures per person than any other nation.”
Experts quoted by the Post cited causes including American overwork, money obsession, lack of vacation time and “the low status of American primary care doctors.”
In Italy, for instance, the traditional family doctor is “the central hub of the health-care system, seeing patients regularly for years and earning more than most specialists,” the paper said.
Inequality has long been linked to lesser health outcomes for poorer people, but the gap is widening, the Post said. It reports that the life-expectancy gap “between the richest and poorest areas” in the U.S. is “far wider than in other wealthy nations.”
Yet wealth isn’t sufficient protection against earlier death in the U.S.
“People living in the wealthiest areas of the United States don’t live longer lives than people in the poorest parts of France, where health outcomes are far more equal,” the Post reported.
In addition, “Rich Americans are dying earlier than their peers in Canada, France, and Japan, and the gap is widening.”
Researchers quoted by the Post say they don’t have all the answers to these mysteries.
But other wealthier countries, like Norway, are also “having to adjust and resist the spread of New World Syndrome — the processed foods and sedentary lifestyle that are factors in lowering U.S. life expectancy.”
4. A mysterious epidemic of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is striking U.S. children
The Post did extensive reporting on a dramatic rise in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease among young people in “Fatty Liver Was A Disease of the Old. Then Kids Started Getting Sick.”
“Before the turn of the [20th] century,” the paper reported, “there were only a handful of documented cases of pediatric fatty liver disease in the medical literature.”
But in the early 2000s, “Pediatricians across the United States began reporting cases of children as young as 2 and through their teens with globs of fat cells in the liver in concentrations that should not normally exist. Some of the patients were very ill.”
Now, “millions are affected,” the paper reported, “and researchers in the journal Clinical Liver Disease estimate that 5 to 10 percent of all U.S. children have nonalcoholic fatty liver disease — making it about as common as asthma.”
Aside from processed foods and poor lifestyle choices, the doctors and researchers quoted by the Post are mystified by what is causing a rise in severe liver disease in children.
It is “something,” the Post said, “scientists are still trying to figure out.”
Childhood diseases are dragging down U.S. life expectancy, the paper said. “The seeds of this crisis are planted in childhood,” the Post said, meaning poor lifestyle choices.
The Post did not explore the causal possibility of childhood vaccines or other environmental factors in children’s liver disease.
But a study of 5,505 children, led by Dr. Monica A. Fisher of the Department of Epidemiology at the University of Michigan, found that children under 6 who received at least one dose of the hepatitis B vaccine were “2.94 times more likely to be diagnosed with liver problems than children who did not receive a hepatitis B vaccine.”
When only the children with vaccination records were considered, the vaccinated children were 13.08 times more likely to develop liver problems than the group that had not been vaccinated against hepatitis B, the book reports.
“The CDC’s US childhood vaccination schedule has included the hepatitis B vaccine since the 1990s,” Kennedy and Hooker wrote. “It recommends that medical practitioners give the first dose (of a series of three shots) on the first day of life. Unfortunately, there is a paucity of scientific information regarding the safety of the birth dose of the hepatitis B vaccine.”
5. ‘American politics are proving toxic’
Bad public-health decisions by elected officials are killing Americans, the Post reported in “How Red-State Politics Are Shaving Years off American Lives.”
The Post contrasted the poor health outcomes in Ashtabula County, Ohio, with the neighboring Lake Erie counties of Erie County, Pennsylvania, and Chautauqua County, New York.
Examining the Ohio county’s life expectancy, which is three years below the national average, the newspaper blamed Ohio’s Republican-dominated legislature for decades of blocking wise public-health policies like higher tobacco taxes and stricter seat belt laws.
The paper featured the story of Ashtabula funeral director Mike Czup, who in the past six months “has arranged the funerals of a 37-year-old killed by complications from diabetes, a 54-year-old killed by lung disease and a 54-year-old killed by a stroke, among many others who died prematurely.”
The Post does not examine the peer-reviewed medical research linking death or disability, closely following mRNA vaccination, from blood clots and strokes as well as heart attacks and returning or especially aggressive cancers.
The unemployment and impoverishment in many communities in the interior of the U.S. has caused bad health outcomes in rural America, the Post said.
“Like other hard-hit Midwestern counties, Ashtabula has seen a rise in what are known as “deaths of despair” — drug overdoses, alcoholism and suicides — “prompting federal and state attention in recent years,” the Post said.
Yet in Ashtabula County, “as well as in most counties across the United States, those types of deaths are far outnumbered by deaths caused by cardiovascular disease, diabetes, smoking-related cancers and other health issues for residents between 35 and 64 years old,” it reported.
The portrait of Ohio and America that emerged from the Post’s investigation “shows a nation beset with chronic illness and saddled with a fractured health-care system that, compared with its peers, costs more, delivers less and fails at the fundamental mission of helping people maintain their health,” the paper concluded.
“Between 2015 and 2019, nearly five times as many Ashtabula residents in their prime died of chronic medical conditions as died of overdoses, suicide and all other external causes combined,” according to the Post’s analysis of the CDC’s death records.