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sweden birthrate update: june data
assessing hypotheses on causality
about 5 weeks ago, i posted THIS update to the swedish natality data and tried to lay out some testable hypotheses on cause. the june data is now out, so i wanted to update the series and see how it was mapping against hypotheses. recall that in july, we were assessing two leading theories with regard to the sudden and sharp drop in swedish birth rate:
there is plausible support for both.
the peak vaccine impulse in sweden was april to july of 2021.
the alignment with covid vaccine rollout is quite precise for commencement and based on the biological studies (info HERE and HERE) the expectation that this result (if it is occurring) would remain pronounced for at least 6 months appears sound and there is good reason to suspect that some effects may persist for longer.
on the other hand 2021 showed high birth rates relative to 2020 and so perhaps 2022 is just a difficult comparison and the summer of 2021 was a time that people were out traveling and not seeking to conceive.
the key to science and scientific theory is making testable predictions to assess hypotheses. to that end, i laid this out in july:
so, let’s see how we’re doing:
the june births per million population number was 907, down from 913 in may. this is not unexpected as births are highly seasonal and june has been below may in each of the last 3 years as well. but as can be seen from this graph, births remain quite low in june.
this june was easily the lowest of the last 4 years
and on a percentage vs year ago basis was a slight improvement over may (-7.5% vs -7.9%) but remains at extremely low levels by historical standard.
births are remarkable consistent by month. the first 6 months of 2019, 20, 21 were 51.3%, 51.6%, and 51.3% of full year births respectively. using the average of these (51.4%) to estimate full year 2022 gets us this. (estimate in red)
and seen as % change we get this:
so what does this mean? it is vaccines or blackout babies and travel plans?
unfortunately, i think this outcome is still somewhat equivocal.
it’s very clear that something highly unusual is going on and continues to go on. these birth rates are exceedingly low and remain so.
it’s tempting to say that the june outcome really bolsters the idea of vaccine driven effect because june 2022 births were conceived in september of 2021 once the great summer 2021 walkabout wound down. this is not unreasonable and may well be the best base prior. but it’s also not without some possible conflicting data
one could argue that june % drop looks large because june 2021 was a very high birth rate for a june month. it was up 2.8% vs 2020 (though 2020 was a low june, down 2% from prior year so perhaps it was june 2021 that was the odd comp.) so the baseline for comparison here is still a bit muddy and we’re really only working with one month of post “walkabout summer” conception opportunity.
adding to this, june of 2020 showed the smallest drop vs may in any of the past 4 years. this could be consistent with a “we’re all home again” birth rate recovery.
but even this is not easy data to read as it might well be that the smaller drops are a function of overall levels being so low.
this is making it difficult to draw any conclusion that seems definitive. you can still sort of argue either side convincingly.
matters should become more clear in the next 2-3 months. the comps will become cleaner as the 2021 divergence from averages becomes less pronounced, we get more distance from summer travel, and also get further way from the tail end of the vaccination impulse.
there are a lot of cross currents and potentially competing effects here and our two hypotheses are not mutually exclusive and may instead be mutually reinforcing.
it’s just going to take time. you cannot rush 9 month gestational data.
but here’s what to look for:
if we see a sharp rise in relative birth rates over the next couple months with % variance vs prior year getting back above the -2% range, i think we can start to conclude with some confidence that covid vaccines, if they had any effect on birth rates, were transitory in their impact.
on the other hand, if birth rates remain deeply depressed in the -4-8% range, i think we’re seeing support for the idea that there is some other cause than blackout baby boom and world opening bust in play. given the hard, independent science here (linked above), i think that would put vaccine induced infertility at the top of the suspects list as we have sound a priori reason to suspect effect and tight temporal linkage on commencement.
the tricky one will be trying to pin down/separate societal behavior changes from transitory vaccine effects (presuming such a case pertains). the timing overlap there is significant and that makes it heard to tease out of this sort of society scale data. i suspect we’d really need to see data on variance in birthrate between the vaxxed and unvaxxed for that one.
that seems like it would be the gold standard study:
if we could compare the birth rates among the vaxxed vs the unvaxxed in 2022 compared to their birth rates in past years (controlling for age, race, and other meaningful demographics) we could really pin this down. unfortunately, i suspect that will be difficult in sweden as they make a real point of not collecting or reporting data by race etc and i expect some cross confounds with high birth rate immigrants that might also be low vaxx.
but there are lots of countries that would have all this data.
it’s disappointing that no one is doing this simple work to see what the risk is.
this may just be my cynicism talking, but i suspect that many agencies have meaningful insight into the shape of this data and if there were an obvious non-signal from vaccines on fertility they’d be contracting studies and shouting it from the rooftops.
i fear we may be in another of these “don’t look for what you don’t want to find” situations and, on balance, given the hard science on ovary concentration, sperm suppression, menstrual disruption, etc from the mRNA jabs, i would honestly be pretty surprised if they did not have at least transitory effect on fertility.
it feels like a sound hypothesis, but i don’t think we have society scale proof yet. that’s going to take another couple months to emerge. but the fact that we’re even having this discussion at this point is terrifying and points to egregious lapses in testing and assessment by the very agencies that so actively pushed these products on pregnant women without having done anything like enough work on the topic.
this sort of ready, fire, aim! revisionism and neglect has served us poorly and the fact that is has been left to the internet to mop up after the misapprehension and misbehavior of “experts” speaks poorly of the utility of the regulatasuarus.
perhaps it’s time we put him out to pasture.