The number of deaths during the coronavirus pandemic are likely to have been overestimated, a health watchdog has found.
A new report published by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) states that the official figures include people who were infected with the coronavirus at the time of death, but whose cause of death may have been due to other factors.
HIQA’s Chief Scientist Dr Conor Teljeur said that during the six week period from March 25 to May 5, excess deaths peaked by 33pc.
"During this period, there was an increase of 1,200 deaths from expected figures, with 1,332 COVID-19-related deaths officially reported,” he said.
“In the last four weeks of the analysis, we have seen a reversal of that trend with fewer deaths than expected. However, it is also possible that the changes to healthcare delivery during the COVID-19 epidemic, such as the suspension of elective activity in public acute hospitals, may have a lasting impact on health outcomes, the effect of which may take years to be seen.”
The report also found that between March 11 and June 16, there was a 13pc increase in deaths in Ireland.
There were an additional 1,072 deaths recorded in this period, while the officially reported number of COVID-19 deaths for the same period was 1,709.
“Based on an analysis of the death notices reported on RIP.ie since 2010, there is clear evidence of excess deaths occurring since the first reported death due to COVID-19 in Ireland,” explained Dr Teljeur.
“There were about 1,100 to 1,200 more deaths than we would expect based on historical patterns; a 13pc increase between 11 March to 16 June.
“However, the number of excess deaths is substantially less than the reported 1,709 COVID-19-related deaths over the same period.”