Ireland recorded no ‘excess deaths’ during Covid-19 pandemic

Ireland recorded no ‘excess deaths’ during Covid-19 pandemic

IRELAND recorded no excess deaths during the core years of the Covid-19 pandemic a new report has found.

Research published in a working paper by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) shows Ireland was one of just nine OECD countries to avoid excess deaths during the core pandemic years of 2020-2022.

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

To calculate the figures, the OECD measured the difference between the number of people who 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.

Under the research Ireland registers the fourth lowest rate of excess death behind New Zealand, Iceland and Norway.

Welcoming the figures, Ireland’s Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said: "I am very pleased to be able to report that Ireland’s excess mortality during the core pandemic years was the fourth lowest among OECD countries."

He added: "Ireland asked a lot of its population during this time and the restrictions that were put in place had a profound impact on us all.

"These figures point to the success of Ireland’s public health measures, and to the strong uptake of our Covid-19 vaccination programme."

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

"The population in Ireland demonstrated a strong adherence to public health measures during this time, and Ireland’s Covid-19 vaccination programme has been one of the most successful in the world, with 96% of the adult population receiving their primary vaccinations.”

She added: "We know that vaccines save lives, as well as preventing serious illness and hospitalisations.

"Covid is still with us, and immunity wanes over time, so I would like to remind all those who are eligible to top up their protection with a Covid booster this winter, as well as keeping up to date with their flu vaccine."

Ireland’s Department of Health confirmed that previous estimates of excess deaths during the pandemic did not take into account changes in population size and demographics.

For its working paper, the OECD reviewed the methodology used to calculate excess deaths and accounted for demographic trends in each country.

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

This is more than double the 10 per cent increase in the EU 27 countries in the same time period.

“Adjusting mortality rates to take account of these changes has shown that Ireland did not record excess mortality during 2020-2022,” the Department explained.

“In fact, Ireland had a lower than expected death rate,” they added.

The OECD research shows that Mexico recorded the highest rate of excess deaths during the pandemic years, followed by Colombia, at 30.5 per cent and 23.5 per cent respectively.

“Even when considering the significant changes in population size and structure, Mexico and Colombia recorded significantly higher numbers of deaths," the report authors state.