death toll | 

Half of people in Ireland who died of Covid ‘may not have survived December 2021’

It comes as a study from WHO found that Ireland experienced 2,920 'excess deaths' during the pandemic


Clodagh Meaney

Half of those who died of Covid-19 in Ireland, “may not have survived December 2021” says Professor Sam McConkey.

It comes as a study from the World Health Orginisation (WHO) found that Ireland experienced 2,920 excess deaths during the pandemic.

The figure is higher than previous studies published by HIQA and the Lancet Medical Journal.

It is also significantly lower than the 7,108 deaths that were officially recorded in Ireland.

So called ‘excess deaths’ are calculated using the total number of deaths recorded minus the number of deaths that might have been expected based on previous trends.

The Royal College of Surgeons doctor who specialises in Epidemiology and Infections diseases told The Pat Kenny Show on Newstalk that new figures from WHO show the “true impact of indirect and direct causality of COVID on our society over the last few years.”

“To me, the big take-home message here is, we know there were 6,000 or 7,000 deaths of people who died with COVID in their nose, but it's clear now, when we're talking about 2,000 or 3,000, about half of those at least or perhaps two thirds actually died with COVID but may not have survived to December 2021 in any case,” he said.

“They were in the last few months or years of their life.”

The WHO said a total of 14.9 million excess deaths, almost three times the official Covid death toll of 5.4 million, associated with COVID were recorded by the end of 2021.

The organisation said that the excess death figure includes “people who did not have COVID but lost their lives due to overwhelmed health systems or the avoidance of hospital settings.”

Professor McConkey said that a Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) study found a “huge spike” in deaths at the start of the pandemic in March 2020 and during the surge following Christmas in 2020.

“Outside of those two periods of two months, we actually had, in many months, a lower than expected death rate,” he said.

“There were fewer respiratory infections, there was no flu, there were less road accidents and we actually had a lower death rate for quite a bit of the time.”

“So, we in Ireland suffered two very bad periods of two months each with a lot of excess death but for the rest of the time we have actually done very, very well out of it.”

Professor McConkey added that the reduction in viruses, such as the flu, during the Covid pandemic could lead to issues in winter.

“Because we have had no flu for two years or so, it is likely that the next wave which will come between October and February will be quite a bad one.”

“There is now an effort to vaccinate much wider than five years ago, so we are all encouraged to get a flu vaccine.”

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