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Dr Lucy Barnard was interviewed for an article in the New Zealand Herald following up on our Briefing Surviving winter: NZ’s journey through 145 years of seasonal survival – New study

While the cold months now aren’t as much a killer as they were a century ago – excess winter deaths made up nearly 8 per cent of annual deaths in 1920, compared with 4.5 per cent in the 2010s – some of the biggest drivers remain.

“The things that are more likely to kill people in winter, compared to other seasons, are respiratory illnesses,” said study author Dr Telfar-Barnard.

That notably included influenza – pre-Covid modelling attributed the flu to 500 deaths in New Zealand each year – and others like respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).


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