Ireland had estimated 1,100 excess deaths during pandemic years, research suggests

Ireland Had Estimated 1,100 Excess Deaths During Pandemic Years, Research Suggests
The Society of Actuaries in Ireland said there was 'broadly no excess mortality in 2020' in Ireland. Photo: PA
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Ireland experienced an estimated 1,100 excess deaths during the pandemic years of 2020 and 2021 with almost all occurring in the latter period, new research suggests.

The Society of Actuaries in Ireland said there was “broadly no excess mortality in 2020” in Ireland, with the extensive societal restrictions imposed by the Government likely a significant factor in limiting excess deaths in the first year of the pandemic.


In 2021 the research suggests, however, just over 1,000 more people died than might have been expected when compared with the three-year period immediately before Covid-19.

Excess mortality is defined as the difference between observed deaths and expected deaths.

The society acknowledged “contradictory” findings in previous reports by other organisations into excess deaths and said there was no single definitive approach.

It said factors influencing the figures could include data-sets used, time periods chosen as benchmarks, or delays in reporting deaths due to the cyberattack on the HSE.


The society used the death rate between 2017 and 2019 as a benchmark to estimate expected deaths between 2020 and 2021 through to recent CSO data, including 2022 census results.

Deaths were then standardised to the population size and mix in 2021 for analysis.

The society found 33,870 deaths for 2020, compared to an annual average of 33,818 over 2017 to 2019, leaving a difference of 52.

For 2021, it found 34,844 deaths in the years studied compared to an annual average of 33,818 during 2017-2019, leaving a difference of 1,026.


This is a combined difference of 1,078.

The report also stated that, between March and December 2020, or the pandemic months only, the excess death rate for people aged over 85 was “significant”. However, deaths among younger people reduced.

The society concluded that “one potentially significant factor” contributing to a lower number of deaths in 2020 compared to 2021 were Covid restrictions introduced by the government.

The organisation represents professional actuaries who use statistical and mathematical techniques to study past events and anticipate future events.

In January, the Department of Health published findings from the OECD indicating no excess deaths between 2020 and 2022 for Ireland.

The Central Statistics Office published data in 2022 indicating 3,533 excess deaths during 2020-2021.

A Covid-19 inquiry/review is expected to be set up shortly, with a report potentially due next year.

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