The government has now introduced a return to many Covid-19 restrictions. But what do the numbers actually show about how deadly Coronavirus has been for Ireland?

On July 3rd, the Health Information Quality Authority (HIQA) acknowledged that Coronavirus fatalities in Ireland were overestimated by 60%.  A Central Statistics Office report published on the same day proved to be equally revealing and will have caused some to question the government narrative of a necessity for the continuance of, or return to, a restrictive lockdown.

Reporting on deaths in Ireland from January 1st 2020 up until June 30th, the CSO note: “Excess mortality for the period was 1,072.”

Excess deaths are additional fatalities above what would normally be expected to occur anyhow, and are attributed to everything from bad winter weather to seasonal flu. Excess deaths are a regular occurrence and the figures for this year are comparable to January 2018 and 2017.

The CSO examined thousands of online funeral notices , the General Register’s Office figures and other sources of data, and calculated that 8,449 people died in Quarter 1 2020 and 8,292 died in Quarter 2 of the same year.

In total, 16,741 people died from January to June 2020 – 129 fewer than the same period two years ago when the country was hit with a bad flu.

In contrast, CSO official death figures from 2018 show that in Quarter one 9,278 died and in Quarter two 7,592 died – a total of 16,870 people.

The official mortality figures for the first six months of 2020 point to an excess death toll of 1,072 – from all causes- not 1,750  Covid “deaths” as was widely claimed.

Former Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, recently acknowledged this on Twitter. On July 3rd he said: “Interesting but not a surprise. In Ireland we counted all deaths, in all settings, suspected cases even when no lab test was done, and included people with underlying terminal illnesses who died with Covid but not of it.”

 

So how many people may have died because of an underlying terminal illness?

According to the CSO the average age of the reported Corona case mortalities was 83, and in 88% of cases the deceased had one or more co-morbidities i.e. diseases.

The only way to know for certain what someone died of is to perform an autopsy which will determine if Corona was the immediate cause of death, or if it was a merely an additional factor alongside other serious underlying health problems.

The Irish Times headline reported on May 11 that: “Autopsies done on just 5 confirmed cases of Covid-19 fatalities.”

The WHO issued guidelines on January 30th 2020 which stated: “A death due to Covid-19 may not be attributed to another disease (e.g. cancer) and should be counted independently of pre-existing conditions that are suspected of triggering a severe case of Covid-19.”

To add to the confusion the National Health Service Agency, the HSE, sent a memorandum to GP’s on March 21st instructing them not to seek tests for elderly people in homes and to assume that “if one resident at the nursing home had Covid-19 (Corona), they all have it.”

Covid-19 did not just manifest on our doorsteps in March. It would appear to have been knocking around Europe and Ireland since well before Christmas 2019. This was confirmed by health authorities in Northern Italy who discovered traces of it in effluent treatment plants. The Spanish have made similar discoveries from frozen sewage samples taken in Barcelona on March 12 2019 – last year.

Some point to the high death toll in Italy. On that subject, the former Director General of Israel’s Ministry of Health, Yoram Lass makes an interesting observation. In an interview on May 22, 2020 for Spiked he said:“In 2017, 25,000 Italians died from flu complications. Now you have 30,000. So it is a compatible number.”

In early January 2018, Ireland was hit by “Aussie” flu. The January 1st, Irish Independent headline warned: “Experts warn Ireland could be facing the deadliest outbreak of flu in 50 years.” In the first week of 2018, over 20,000 were struck down by ‘Aussie’ virus and a staggering 4,700 people turned up in GP’s surgeries. Over 2,700 were admitted to hospitals.

In the Central Statistics Office Vital Statistics Quarter 1 2018 report they noted: “Deaths are up by 211 compared to the same period in 2017.”

To put this into perspective, according to the HSE- “In Ireland, between 200 and 500 people, mainly older people, die from flu each winter.” They add that globally flu causes 646,000 deaths every year.

The official statistics seem to paint a different picture than what was expected from the Covid-19 outbreak earlier this year.

There are other figures which also need to be considered. On July 19, The Telegraph released a very sobering official UK Government Report which lays bare the long term effects of the lockdown on Britain. The headline sums it up: “Lockdown may cost 200,000 lives, government report shows.”

The report warns over 200,000 people could die because of delays in healthcare and other economic and social effects all caused by lockdown the experts at the Department of Health and Social Care, Office for National Statistics, Government Actuary’s Department and the Home Office, calculated.

If that effect translated here, that would lead to 16,000 deaths in Ireland.

It’s way past time for all of the options to be examined for this country – and for the actual numbers to be considered in decisions regarding the continued lockdown of our people.

 

REFERENCES

CSO RESEARCH DOCUMENT JULY 3 2020 Measuring Mortality Using Public Data Sources

CSO VITAL STATISTICS 2018 

 


 

For an alternative view of what Excess Deaths can tell us about Covid-19, read Dermot Dorgan