New WHO figures suggest at least half of the people who died with COVID in Ireland ‘may not have survived in any case’, according to Professor Sam McConkey.
The WHO study finds 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; however, it is significantly lower than the 7,108 officially recorded COVID deaths.
Excess deaths are calculated based on the total number of deaths recorded minus the number that might have been expected based on previous trends.
On The Pat Kenny Show this morning, Professor Sam McConkey said the WHO figures highlight 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 associated with COVID were recorded by the end of last year – nearly three times the official COVID death toll of 5.4 million.
It said 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.
It also noted that many countries under-estimate their COVID-related deaths.
Professor McConkey said the HIQA study found a “huge spike” in deaths at the start of the pandemic and during the surge after Christmas 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.”
He said the reduction in viruses like the flu during the pandemic could lead to problems next 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 coming, will be quite a bad one,” he said.
“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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