North’s First Minister ‘encouraged’ by expected rollout of AstraZeneca

Total of 2,355 Covid-related deaths in North since pandemic began, latest data shows

Of the total Covid-19 related deaths, 1,487 took place in hospital, 687  in care homes, 13 in hospices and 168 at residential addresses or other locations. File photograph: iStock

Of the total Covid-19 related deaths, 1,487 took place in hospital, 687 in care homes, 13 in hospices and 168 at residential addresses or other locations. File photograph: iStock

 

First Minister Arlene Foster has described how she has held a “very useful and constructive discussion” with representatives of AstraZeneca about the supply of its vaccines to Northern Ireland.

While the Republic is facing a projected shortfall of at least 300,000 vaccines because of AstraZeneca’s contractual row with the European Commission, Ms Foster on Friday expressed satisfaction with the expected rollout of that vaccine in Northern Ireland.

“AstraZeneca has committed to provide 100 million doses for the UK, and it is their intention to have 30 million vaccinated by end of first quarter,” said the DUP leader.

“I was encouraged that they have established 20 independent supply chain arms for different parts of the world and believe their UK supply line is extremely robust as it is now extensively an internal UK operation,” she added.

Ms Foster said that “like many others, AstraZeneca also raised concern about the impact of the Northern Ireland protocol and the supply of medicines to Northern Ireland from next year”.

“There is currently a derogation, but government must be awake to this challenge and explain how they are going to get medicines to Northern Ireland from January 2022,” she said.

Meanwhile, the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (Nisra) on Friday reported that there have been 2,355 Covid-19 related deaths in Northern Ireland since the start of the pandemic.

In the week to last Friday, Nisra recorded 150 deaths involving coronavirus, the second highest weekly number since the pandemic began, taking its death toll total to 2,355.

No assumptions

On Sunday January 17th, 34 deaths were recorded – the highest number of Covid-19 related deaths occurring in any one day since the start of the pandemic.

The comparative number of deaths reported daily by the North’s Department of Health up to last Friday was 1,716.

That difference of more than 600 deaths is explained by the fact that health department figures mainly relate to deaths in hospital and patients who had previously tested positive for the virus.

Nisra’s figures go wider in that they relate to death certificates in the general community where Covid-19 was recorded as a factor in the death. The Nisra figures relate to people who may or may not have previously tested positive for the virus.

Of the 2,355 Covid-19 related deaths, 1,487 (63.1 per cent) took place in hospital, 687 (29.2 per cent) in care homes, 13 (0.6 per cent) in hospices and 168 (7.1 per cent) at residential addresses or other locations.

The 700 deaths which occurred in care homes and hospices involved 166 separate establishments.

Further analysis by Nisra, which also considered deaths of care home residents in hospital, found that care home residents accounted for 38.1 per cent of all Covid-19 related deaths. Nisra however said that “no assumptions can be made in relation to where or when the deceased contracted the disease”.

People aged 75 and over accounted for more than three-quarters of all coronavirus-related deaths in Northern Ireland, according to Nisra.

Meanwhile, the North’s health department in its daily bulletin on Friday afternoon reported 22 more Covid-19 deaths taking its total to 1,814. There were 94 deaths in the past seven days compared to 132 deaths in the previous week.

It reported 669 new cases of the virus, bringing the total number of cases in the North since the outbreak of the pandemic to 103,079.

Hospital bed occupancy is now at 92 per cent. There are 745 patients receiving coronavirus treatment with 67 in intensive care and 54 on ventilators.