McConkey: Ireland 'among best in Europe' for excess COVID deaths

Ireland, Iceland, Norway and Cyprus had some of "the lowest rates in the world"
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

15.18 11 Mar 2022

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McConkey: Ireland 'among best...

McConkey: Ireland 'among best in Europe' for excess COVID deaths

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

15.18 11 Mar 2022

Share this article

Ireland was among the best countries in Europe for low excess deaths from COVID-19.

That's according to Professor Sam McConkey, who was reacting to a new report comparing COVID death tolls in countries across the world.

Published in The Lancet, it found that during 2020 and 2021 the pandemic led to 18.2 million excess deaths.


All-cause mortality reports were collected for 74 countries and territories, as well as 266 subnational locations.

It examined how many deaths we might have expected to see, versus how many we actually did.

The number of excess deaths due to COVID-19 was largest in the regions of south Asia, north Africa and the Middle East, and eastern Europe.

The Lancet map Source: The Lancet

The highest numbers of cumulative excess deaths were estimated in India, the USA, Russia, Mexico, Brazil, Indonesia and Pakistan.

While it found rates varied substantially in western Europe with some countries - such as Ireland, Iceland, Norway and Cyprus - having some of "the lowest rates in the world" at less than 50 deaths per 100,000.

Sam McConkey is head of the Department of International Health and Tropical Medicine at the Royal College of Surgeons Ireland.

He told Newstalk Breakfast Ireland has done very well.

"We have come out of this very well, among the best in Europe - with Norway and Iceland.

"What they did is they looked at the expected death rate in each country, based on what happened from 2010 to 2019.

"From that you can look at the trend - how much is it decreasing each year, how much is the winter excess and the summer improvement.

"So there are seasonal and temporal trends".

'Deaths from other causes'

He says Ireland has also had access to excellent diagnostics throughout the pandemic.

"In Ireland they're saying it's about 1,200 approximately which... is less than our 6,000 deaths that we have recorded due to PCR.

"We're unusual in that most countries actually have way more excess deaths.

"In fact the main finding of this study is that there were three-times more deaths recorded than known to have happened from COVID in places like India.

"In many countries where there aren't good diagnostics - we've had excellent PCR, excellent diagnostics.

"And what we're finding is that deaths from other causes may have actually decreased.

"We all have heard that the flu never happened last year, so all the deaths that you would have expected from flu just didn't appear".

And he says countries with tighter controls had fewer deaths.

"The countries that had really tight control - like famously Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and China - had actually very few excess deaths.

"In fact they'd negative deaths; they'd much fewer deaths than expected in those two years.

"So it shows that less social distancing, essentially, non-pharmacological measures - not socialising - has actually led to less deaths.

"It does look like what we did had a big positive impact, and the countries that did more of it did better".

McConkey: Ireland 'among best in Europe' for excess COVID deaths

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