Australian Department of Health signage (file image)
There is no evidence the government is hiding data about COVID deaths or vaccinations. Image by Lukas Coch/AAP PHOTOS

‘Hidden’ COVID data is freely available online

William Summers February 15, 2024

The Australian government is not being upfront about a range of COVID information.


False. The information in question is all in the public domain.

A vaccine sceptic claims the Australian government is hiding key COVID-related information from the public.

This is false. Government agencies have published thousands of pages of detailed information about COVID deaths and vaccination – all freely available online.

Jason Miles, a prominent spreader of COVID-related misinformation (see here, here, here and here), made the claim in a Facebook post (screenshot here) on January 31. 

He says the government is not informing people about the low number of flu cases during the pandemic, or that some people died “with” not “from” COVID or that many COVID victims had other comorbidities which contributed to the deaths.

All the claims are false.

The information Mr Miles says is hidden is published on the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) website and in government health department documents.

A screenshot of the Facebook post.
 The Facebook post is spreading misinformation. 

“The government claims over 20,000 Covid deaths yet fails to tell you that the flu fell off a cliff and that a lot of these people died with COVID-19 and not from COVID-19,” Mr Miles wrote.

“They fail to tell you that the majority had 1 or more comorbidities.

“Conversely, then they prevent data from being published of vaccine injury deaths…”

It’s true there have been more than 20,000 COVID-related deaths in Australia

However, the rest of Mr Miles’ post is fiction.

It is not true the government failed to tell Australians “flu fell off a cliff”.

Australia’s National Influenza Season Summary 2020, published by the federal government, said laboratory-confirmed influenza cases “substantially decreased in mid-March and remained low to the end of the 2020 season” (page 1).

“Given low case numbers of laboratory-confirmed notifications for influenza, it is likely that there is minimal impact on society due to influenza circulation in the 2020 season,” the document states.

A young woman uses tissues (file image)
 Flu rates plummeted in 2020 and 2021. 

Similarly, the 2021 National Influenza Season Summary stated flu cases remained “well below average” across the year while flu hospitalisations and deaths were at their lowest level in five years.

Health experts say the drop in flu cases during 2020 and 2021 was likely due to measures adopted to slow the spread of COVID, such as handwashing and social distancing.

Australia’s unusually low flu rate during 2020 and 2021 was widely reported across domestic media, international media and academic journals.

Flu rates shot back up in 2022 after COVID restrictions eased.

He also claims the government failed to mention “a lot of these people died with COVID-19 and not from COVID-19” and didn’t make it clear many COVID victims suffered one or more co-morbidities.

Health authorities have been clear that COVID was the primary cause of some deaths and a contributory factor in others.

This ABS report from October 2021, which covers COVID-related fatalities recorded in the first 18 months of the pandemic, states the term COVID-19 was written on 982 death certificates up to the end of July 2021.

Of those 982 deaths, 920 were deemed to be directly caused by COVID.

Social distancing signage (file image)
 Pandemic prevention measures are credited for the drop in flu rates. 

Of the remaining 62 , nine were recorded where the person died “with” the virus but it was not deemed the underlying cause, eight occurred in people who had COVID but recovered and 45 had a negative COVID result recorded on the death certificate.

The most recent ABS report on COVID deaths (December 2023) says 20,755 deaths registered between March 2020 and November 2023 “were of people who died from or with COVID-19”.

COVID was the underlying cause of 16,472 of those deaths while 4283 died of other causes “but COVID-19 contributed to their death”, the ABS states.

Overall, the ABS says about 74 per cent of COVID-associated deaths in 2023 were “from” the virus. By comparison, 99 per cent of COVID-related deaths in 2020 were a direct result of the virus.

The ABS and health authorities have regularly published data about the pre-existing medical issues or comorbidities of COVID patients, including here, here, here (page 7) and here (page 8).

Mr Miles also claims the government has prevented the publication of data about what he calls “vaccine injury deaths”.

Detailed information about the adverse effects reported following vaccination is published by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), Australia’s medical products regulator.

At the time of writing, the TGA’s Database of Adverse Event Notifications (DAEN) lists about 140,000 COVID vaccine adverse events from almost 69 million doses administered.

The most frequently reported side effects are headaches, muscle pain, fever, fatigue and nausea.

At the time of writing, the TGA has identified 14 deaths in Australia thought to be linked to COVID vaccination.

The Verdict

The claim the Australian government is not being upfront about a range of COVID information is false. 

The information claimed to be kept under wraps is freely available in various government documents published online.

False – The claim is inaccurate.

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