Covid-19 death toll in Ireland to pass 7,000 in coming days

Most lethal period of the pandemic was between January and February 2021

The death toll in the Covid-19 pandemic is set to pass the 7,000 mark in coming days.

The total number of deaths of people with Covid-19 reached 6,996 on Friday, up three on the previous day, according to the Department of Health’s tracker.

A total of 51 days elapsed between the first Covid-19 death on March 1st, 2020, and the 1,000th death on April 21st that year.

Hospital Report

Total doses distributed to Ireland Total doses administered in Ireland
12,363,070 10,70650,462

As the first wave receded, 208 further days passed before the milestone of 2,000 deaths was reached in November 2021.

The most lethal period of the pandemic then ensued, with just 66 days passing before the 3,000 dead mark was passed in January 2021. And just 17 more days passed before 4,000 people with Covid-19 had died, in early February 2021.

The death toll rose more slowly thereafter, due to the benefits of mass vaccination and, later, the milder Omicron strain that became prevalent from the start of this year.

It took 101 days before the 5,000 mark for deaths was reached in May 2021 and another 213 days before 6,000 had died in the pandemic, on December 17th last.

On Friday, 156 days had elapsed since the 6,000 mark was passed.

Not everyone who died with Covid-19 will have died because of it; on the other hand, official figures for deaths in the pandemic are regarded as underestimates due to some deaths, particularly in the early waves, not being attributed to the virus.

The Department of Health’s tracker on Friday also reported an additional 1,171 positive Covid test results had been recorded by PCR, with 1,607 on antigen tests. There were 599 confirmed Covid patients in the country’s hospitals, of whom 39 were in intensive care.

New variant

One case of a more transmissible variant of Covid-19 has been detected in Ireland, the Health Protection Surveillance Centre confirmed on Friday.

However, no further cases of the XE recombinant variant have been found since an initial case was detected in February, the HPSC said.

XE, a combination of the BA.1 and BA.2 sublineages of the Omicron variant, is believed to be 10 per cent more transmissible than Omicron.

More than 1,100 XE cases have been detected in the UK, including a small number in Northern Ireland.

More than 20 subvariants of Omicron have been detected by genome sequencing in Ireland, according to the latest HPSC update.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation has made a strong recommendation for the use of Paxlovid for mild and moderate Covid-19 patients who are at the highest risk of hospitalisation.

The World Health Organisation says Pfizer’s oral antiviral treatment is the best available therapeutic choice for high-risk patients.

Based on the results of new trial data, the WHO is strongly recommending Paxlovid for patients with non-severe Covid-19 who are at highest risk of developing severe disease and hospitalisation, such as unvaccinated, older or immunosuppressed patients.

But it warns availability, lack of price transparency in deals made by the producer and the need for prompt and accurate testing before administering it are turning a life-saving medicine into a “major challenge” for low- and middle-income countries.

The WHO has also broadened the suggested use of remdesivir to include mild or moderate Covid-19 patients who are at high risk of hospitalisation.

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen is Health Editor of The Irish Times