Maresa Fagan: Ireland among countries hardest hit by Covid-19 deaths

Ireland has a rate of 301 Covid-19 deaths per million population — the eighth highest rate in excluding small states. Maresa Fagan looks behind the figures
Maresa Fagan: Ireland among countries hardest hit by Covid-19 deaths

Ireland has a rate of 301 Covid-19 deaths per million population — the eighth highest rate in excluding small states. Maresa Fagan looks behind the figures

Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health, and Dr Ronan Glynn, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health, pictured at a Covid -19 update press conference at the Department of Health. Picture Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin
Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health, and Dr Ronan Glynn, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health, pictured at a Covid -19 update press conference at the Department of Health. Picture Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

Nine countries in Western Europe, including Ireland, rank in the top 10 countries hardest hit by Covid-19 deaths globally.

That’s according to data published by Worldometer, an online data analysis platform, which collates daily figures on the evolving Covid-19 pandemic.

Figures published this week suggest that Ireland is among nine European countries with the highest death rate — number of Covid-19 deaths per million population — in the world.

Excluding small states such as San Marino and Andorra, with populations of less than 100,000 and fewer than 50 deaths, Ireland joins Belgium, Spain, Italy, Britain, France, Sweden, the Netherlands and Switzerland for having a significantly higher than world average death rate.

On average there have been 38 Covid-19 deaths per million population across the world.

These nine Western European countries and the US, however, have rates that are many times this.

Belgium with a population of 11.6 million has recorded 8,843 deaths to date, giving it a rate of 763 Covid-19 deaths per million population — this is 20 times the average death rate seen around the world and the highest rate globally when small states such as San Marino are excluded.

Similar high rates are observed in countries with the highest Covid-19 death tolls such as Spain, where 27,000 deaths give it a rate of 580 deaths per million, and Italy, where close to 31,000 deaths put its rate at 511 deaths per million.

Britain, which now has the highest Covid-19 death toll in Europe at more than 33,000 fatalities, has a death rate of 489 deaths per million.

France comes next with almost 27,000 deaths, giving it a rate of 414 deaths per million population.

While the number of Covid-19 deaths here in Ireland is considerably lower at almost 1,500 fatalities, we have a much higher death rate when our population of 4.9 million is taken into account.

Ireland has a rate of 301 Covid-19 deaths per million population – the eighth highest rate in the world when small states are excluded.

The data also shows that these Western European countries had a much higher death toll and rate than observed in Eastern Europe. Collectively these nine countries have reported 140,000 Covid-19 deaths to date.

By comparison Slovakia, Latvia, and Ukraine, had just over 400 Covid-19 deaths between them, giving them the lowest death rates in Europe at between 5-10 deaths per million population.

Higher than US

President Donald Trump departs after speaking about the coronavirus during a press briefing in the Rose Garden of the White House, Monday, May 11, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
President Donald Trump departs after speaking about the coronavirus during a press briefing in the Rose Garden of the White House, Monday, May 11, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Ireland’s death rate from Covid-19 – 301 deaths per million - is even higher than that observed in the United States, according to the Worldometer data.

With more than 83,000 deaths from Covid-19, the US has a rate of 252 deaths per million.

There are now 1.4 million cases of the new infectious disease in the US, which accounts for one third of all coronavirus infections globally.

Ireland’s rate also differs significantly from countries of similar population size, such as New Zealand, where the death rate from Covid-19 is among the lowest in the world at four deaths per million.

New Zealand, with a population of 4.8 million, went into a full lockdown on March 23 and adopted an aggressive strategy to eliminate the virus.

The country has attracted international praise and considerable media attention for keeping the number of infections below 1,500 and the number of fatalities at just 21 deaths.

The death toll and rate in any given country will be influenced by several factors, in particular the response taken by governments and health authorities.

How quickly restrictions were introduced, the scale of the lockdown, how deaths are recorded, and testing capacity will impact on the data emerging from each country, as the pandemic continues.

Testing

HSE clinical lead for testing Niamh O'Beirne alongside chief clinical officer of the HSE Dr Colm Henry during an HSE briefing at DCU Glasnevin campus in Dublin. -Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland/PA Wire-
HSE clinical lead for testing Niamh O'Beirne alongside chief clinical officer of the HSE Dr Colm Henry during an HSE briefing at DCU Glasnevin campus in Dublin. -Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland/PA Wire-

The available data further shows that Ireland is among the top five countries globally for the number of Covid-19 cases confirmed per million population.

To date more than 23,000 cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed, giving it a rate of 4,707 cases per million population.

This is eight times the average rate observed around the world (561 cases per million population) and among the highest in Europe, trailing behind Spain, which has the highest number of Covid-19 cases at 271,000 (rate of 5,798 cases per million).

This high rate of confirmed cases is influenced by the scale of testing and, on that front, Ireland has fared better despite initial challenges to ramp up Covid-19 testing in the early days of the crisis.

Ireland has conducted close to 260,000 tests for the infectious disease putting the testing rate at 52,414 tests per million population, which is comparable to Spain (52,781 tests per million) and higher than Italy (44,221 tests per million).

Ireland’s testing rate is also higher than the US and UK.

The US has carried out the most tests to date at 10 million but with a population of more than 330 million its testing rate is just 30,000 tests per million.

The UK has carried out more than two million tests and, with a population of 68 million, has a testing rate of 31,000 tests per million.

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