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Tony Holohan says Rip.ie shows Ireland hasn't had any excess mortality in over six weeks

Excess mortality is seen as a significant measure in determining how a country was affected by the pandemic and how it responded.

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan.
Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan.
Image: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER Dr. Tony Holohan has said that Ireland experienced more deaths than would otherwise be expected in March and April but not in May.

Excess mortality is seen as a significant measure in determining how a country was affected by a pandemic and how it responded.

Essentially, it measures how many people have died in a population above what would be otherwise be expected. It is based on the average number of deaths over the same time period in previous years and would include deaths not related to Covid-19. 

Speaking this evening, Holohan said that the Covid-19 pandemic has led to an increase in deaths in this country.

He said almost all deaths are recorded on the Rip.ie website and that this has shown an increase in March and April based on previous years. 

“We also have done analysis as a result of the RIP.ie data, which we know captures in excess of 98% of deaths, to look at what that trend tells us and to make comparisons to other countries. And that shows we have had an excess mortality experience in this country,” Holohan said.

“It occurred for the most part over the course of the months of March and April, then in fact, it reduced back to baseline.

In other words, we have seen no excess mortality in this country since the beginning of May, whereas the excess mortality experienced in many other European countries has continued beyond that point.

Holohan made reference to a newspaper article in yesterday’s Sunday Business Post which noted that Ireland’s excess deaths per million was higher than several other European countries over an 11-week period up to 3 May.

The CMO said this evening that Ireland’s excess mortality “stopped at that point”. 

“We think it’s important that we look at mortality from a lot of different perspectives, that we look at it on a continuing basis, that we don’t conclude too early about what our experience has been compared to other countries,” he said. 

We do know that we’re reporting much more, would I say ‘honestly’, than many countries in terms of what our mortality experience has been. And we think in time that the comparisons will be possible between different countries.

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PastedImage-44902 A slide provided by the Department of Health at this evening's briefing, based on an analysis by the Financial times Source: Department of Health

Holohan added that Ireland has had an excess mortality rate lower than some countries “close to us”, such as in the UK and other parts of western Europe.

Pointing to a side provided by the department, deputy chief medical officer Dr. Ronan Glynn added: 

“As has been well rehearsed, we were adjacent to the countries that were most intensely affected by this pandemic, when the epicentre of the pandemic was in Western Europe.

So it’s not surprising that we have had some of the effect of that in this country. But as you move forward then, so this shows excess mortality up to last week across Europe.

“And what we can see, just highlight Portugal here, because Portugal didn’t have an excess mortality that was greater than ours back at the beginning of May, has continued to have excess mortality, and so if you do the analysis today versus then you’re obviously going to get a different picture.”

About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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