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Ireland had no excess deaths during pandemic


Ireland had no excess deaths during the core pandemic years of 2020-2022, the Department of Health has said, citing new research.

It cites a new ‘Working Paper’ from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) showing that Ireland was one of nine OECD countries to avoid excess deaths during this period, registering the fourth lowest rate behind New Zealand, Iceland and Norway.

The OECD said its report represents preliminary results or research in progress.

Excess deaths refer to the number of deaths from all causes during a period of time, above what would normally be expected.

The OECD measured the difference between the number of people who would have died between 2020 and 2022 and the number of people who would have been expected to die during that time, if the pandemic had not happened.

Excess death figures include those who died from Covid-19 without having been tested as well as from other illnesses.

The Department of Health said that previous estimates of excess deaths during the pandemic did not take into account changes in population size and demographics here.

Ireland’s total population rose by 8% between the 2016 and 2022 census and the number of people aged 65 and over increased by 22% during the same period.

The department said that adjusting mortality rates to take account of these changes has shown that Ireland did not record excess mortality during 2020-22 and that Ireland had a lower than expected death rate.

The OECD figures are based on data from the Central Statistics Office.

The OECD report says that data for 2021 to 2022 are provisional and subject to change.

Registrations of deaths lags occurrence, as Ireland has a legal period of three months for deaths to be registered.

It also said that due to the Health Service Executive cyber attack in May 2021, General Register Offices in Ireland were closed. As a result, the registration of births/deaths/marriages were not possible at that time.

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said the figures pointed to the success of Ireland’s public health measures and the strong uptake of the vaccination programme.

Chief Medical Officer Professor Breda Smyth said that the OECD Working Paper highlights some of the important caveats associated with previously published estimates on excess mortality during the core pandemic years.

To date, there have been 9,366 probable and possible deaths due to Covid-19 recorded in Ireland.

Between 2020 and 2022, OECD countries recorded an additional six million deaths compared to the years prior to the pandemic.

The OECD said that the availability of near-complete data on the number of deaths by age and sex for almost all OECD countries makes it now possible to better examine overall trends and differences in mortality across the OECD over the three-year span of the pandemic.


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