Statement regarding the British Medical Journal article of 3 June 2024

We at Our World in Data have been concerned by an article published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) on 3 June 2024, entitled Excess mortality across countries in the Western World since the COVID-19 pandemic: ‘Our World in Data’ estimates of January 2020 to December 2022.

We understand the article is now subject to an Expression of Concern and is under investigation by the BMJ’s integrity team and editors. We await the outcome of that investigation.

We are concerned that by referring to “‘Our World in Data’ estimates”, the article’s title misattributes the data to us and presents the results as the authors’ original research.

While we republished the data, it was produced by Ariel Karlinsky & Dmitry Kobak in their 2021 study, which we credit prominently.

This misattribution is inaccurate and potentially misleading. As an organization that shares data from researchers and highlights their work, we take the rights and recognition of data producers very seriously.

We have brought this concern to the attention of the BMJ. We are publishing this statement because the Expression of Concern does not refer to the concern we have raised.

In addition, some follow-up press reporting may have implied that the authors found a causal link between COVID-19 vaccination and increased excess mortality during the pandemic. This is unfounded, as the BMJ’s Expression of Concern states:

“This study does not establish any such link. The researchers looked only at trends in excess mortality over time, not its causes. The research does not support the claim that vaccines are a major contributory factor to excess deaths since the start of the pandemic. Vaccines have, in fact, been instrumental in reducing the severe illness and death associated with COVID-19 infection.”

Indeed, research has estimated that the COVID-19 vaccination program prevented 20 million deaths in its first year alone.

We have also written extensively on this topic — explaining how to properly interpret excess mortality estimates and showing that death rates are lower among vaccinated individuals.

If readers would like to explore this subject further, additional examples of related work that we have published in the last few years can be found below.

Excess mortality during the Coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19)

How do death rates from COVID-19 differ between people who are vaccinated and those who are not?

What were the death tolls from pandemics in history?

Pandemics have killed millions of people throughout history. How many deaths were caused by different pandemics, and how have researchers estimated their death tolls?

A pandemic primer on excess mortality statistics and their comparability across countries

Coronavirus Pandemic (COVID-19) topic page

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