October 25, 2021

Deaths linked to virus may be ‘substantially’ less than has been reported: watchdog

The number of officially reported fatalaties in Ireland as a result of Covid-19 may be significantly higher than the actual number of deaths directly caused by the virus, a new report claims.

The report published today by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) says that Covid-19 caused a 13% increase in deaths in Ireland between March and June 2020. But it said the number of excess deaths linked to the virus may be “substantially” less than has been reported.

The analysis by the health watchdog studies the number of deaths that occurred in Ireland from March 11 to June 16 2020 relative to the expected number of deaths, using data from the death notices website RIP.ie.

It found that while there were 1,200 more deaths during that period, this is considerably less than the 1,709 people recorded as having died from coronavirus during those months.

HIQA’s Chief Scientist, Dr Conor Teljeur, said: “Based on an analysis of the death notices reported on RIP.ie since 2010, there is clear evidence of excess deaths occurring since the first reported death due to Covid-19 in Ireland.

“There were about 1,100 to 1,200 more deaths than we would expect based on historical patterns; a 13% increase between 11 March to 16 June. However, the number of excess deaths is substantially less than the reported 1,709 Covid-19-related deaths over the same period.”

According to HIQA, the officially-reported Covid-19 deaths likely overestimates the true burden of excess deaths caused by the virus.

It says this could be due to the inclusion within official figures of people who were infected with SARS-CoV-2 (coronavirus) at the time of death, whose cause of death may have been predominantly due to other factors.

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