Credit: D Storan

Calls for clarity in the reporting of covid 19 deaths have emerged amid rising concerns over the accuracy of NPHET figures

Families with loved ones diagnosed with a terminal illness are questioning death certs that cite Covid as the cause of death, according to Independent TD Michael Collins.

“This has been raised by numerous families with loved ones that have passed away and it’s upsetting for them and it’s unfair. A lot of the public are raising this issue, we need clarity,” the TD for west Cork and former undertaker said.

“I cannot understand how we do not have access to the factual data of who died directly of covid or with covid. The powers that be seem hell bent on attaching as many deaths as possible to covid. If the coroners are asking questions it is time to sit up and listen,” Deputy Collins said.

Independent TD for Clare Michael McNamara has submitted a Parliamentary Question on covid death numbers.

“They are clearly throwing out figures to suit themselves, in an attempt to frighten the population.

“I’ve asked the HSE a question on the number of deaths where covid is the primary cause and where it is a secondary or contributory cause and I’m getting the run around on it so I’ve asked a Parliamentary Question. This evasion usually indicates they have something to hide, that there’s an agenda somewhere. The information is there, it is being passed to the HPSC on a regular basis,” he said.

The TD’s comments follow publication of Mayo Coroner Patrick O’Connor’s observation that NPHET death figures ‘are inaccurate and do not have a scientific basis’.

The Coroner’s concerns were raised at a NPHET briefing by Newstalk reporter Paul O’Donoghue.

In response, Deputy Chief Medical Officer Ronan Glynn said an assessment of excess deaths is required to gauge how Covid 19 has impacted society.

“Certainly there are a proportion of our deaths where people died with Covid as oppose to because of Covid, but I think in time we can look at all this but it’s not that we haven’t been transparent in our reporting processes since early on in the pandemic,” Mr Glynn said.

The Mayo coroner said obtaining accurate figures of deaths primarily from Covid as oppose to ‘with covid’ requires resources.

“This may be the subject of analysis in time to come, however during the current battle with the Covid virus resources will not be applied to dealing with this important study.”

Mr O’Connor pointed to an imbalance in the advice provided by NPHET to government.

“The Government can only make and take decisions based on the medical, scientific and economic information and advice that it gets from the experts in this are of Public Health and Safety,” Mr O’Connor said.

Last September, in his capacity as Chair of the Special Committee on COVID-19 Response (now wound up) Deputy McNamara asked John Cuddihy of the HPSC, if a person who died following a heart attack, a stroke or a fall but tested positive for covid with no symptoms, would be listed as a covid death.

“We adhere to the World Health Organisation case definition in terms of the recording and reporting of deaths so in the situation that you describe where someone has a positive covid test then it is a death in a confirmed covid case but such a case would be subject to a coroner’s report as well and as part of the ongoing validation of the data in our surveillance system we would take additional details in relation to such a case,” Mr Cuddihy said.

None of the recommendations made by the committee, including a recommendation that all data relied upon by NPHET be published in full, have ever been implemented, according to Deputy McNamara.

“We need to know how many people have died from covid, where covid is the primary cause of death and for how many it is a secondary or contributory cause.

“We need at this stage to get away from this scaremongering of the population and move towards a mature and sustainable response,” Deputy McNamara said.

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