Sir, – Writing about a potential inquiry into the health challenges of recent years, Reamonn O’Luan states that the “level of excess deaths in Ireland since the end of the pandemic has been well above average” (Letters, September 29th). It’s fair to observe firstly that excess deaths are, by definition, those above average.
Secondly, and more importantly, according to the WHO, the pandemic isn’t actually over, though it no longer constitutes a public health emergency. Thirdly, as verified on the Covid Worldometer website, there are still severe cases of Covid arising in Ireland, albeit at a manageable rate (with more than 2,000 active cases, of whom 19 are critically ill presently). I have treated several such patients recently, I would add.
Mr O’Luan refers to data from Eurostat, available online, showing excess mortality across the EU. Of the four countries reporting rates significantly above baseline mortality, Ireland is in fourth place with an increase of 13.7 per cent. Those higher than us are Cyprus, Greece and Malta, the latter showing a 53 per cent spike in the dataset for July. Clearly fuller explanations of these outcomes will take time but, from recent years’ experiences, the extreme heat of this summer is likely to be inculpated, a major physiologic challenge to populations growing more obese and older. Trying to incorporate such outcomes into an inquiry on pandemic management would require extraordinarily broad terms of reference. However, lest he or anyone be alarmed, the Eurostat website shows excess mortality in the EU monthly for the first half of this year varying from just below -1 per cent to +4 per cent. This is not very remarkable. For comparison, in October of 2020, it reached 40 per cent across the EU. – Yours, etc,