Tuesday, March 07, 2023

Seán McCárthaigh

Covid-19 was the third main cause of death in the EU in 2020, accounting for almost 439,000 deaths including just over 1,900 in Ireland, according to new EU figures.

They also reveal that the impact of Covid-19 was less severe in the Republic than a majority of other EU countries.

A report by the European Commission shows the virus was responsible for 8.5 per cent of all deaths across the EU in the first year of the pandemic.

However, the proportion of deaths from Covid-19 in Ireland was below the EU average at 5.9 per cent — the 16th highest rate among the 27 EU member states.

The highest shares were registered in Belgium at 17.5 per cent — more than double the EU average – and Spain at 15.2 per cent.

In contrast, the lowest shares were recorded in Finland (1.0 per cent) and Estonia (1.3 per cent).

However, the highest number of deaths from Covid-19 were reported in Italy where there were 78,478 deaths from the novel coronavirus, accounting for 18% of all Covid-19 deaths in the EU.

Spain had the second-highest number of Covid-19 deaths with 74,757, followed by France (69,328), Poland (41,469) and Germany (39,837).

Less than 1,000 deaths from the virus were recorded in Latvia, Finland, Luxembourg, Estonia, Malta and Cyprus.

The EU figures show Ireland had the 9th lowest mortality rate of deaths from Covid-19 in 2020 with approximately 54.9 deaths per 100,000 population due to the virus compared to the EU average of 89.3 per 100,000 inhabitants.

The highest rate was in Belgium at 181.5 per 100,000 and the lowest in Finland at just 9.2.

The figures show that Covid-19 predominantly resulted in the death of older people with the mortality rate among EU citizens over 65 years from the virus 40 times higher than among those under 65 years.

Below EU average

In Ireland, there were 268.0 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants aged over 65 years from the virus compared to the EU average of 414.3 for that age group.

There were just 3.3 deaths per 100,000 population in Ireland from Covid-19 for those under 65 years – less than a third of the EU average rate of 10.3 per 100,000.

The global outbreak of Covid-19 also had an impact on overall deaths in the EU which totalled just under 5.2 million in 2020 – an annual increase of over 552,000 and up almost 12% compared to the average over the previous four years.

The report estimated that Covid-19 accounted for almost 80 per cent of all additional deaths in 2020, although the ratio varied greatly between member states.

Meanwhile, diseases of the circulatory system, which include heart disease and stroke, remain the primary cause of death among EU citizens and account for approximately 1 in 3 of all deaths.

However, Ireland is one of only four EU member states where cancer was the main cause of death in 2020 along with Denmark, France and the Netherlands.

In total, 1.7 million people in the EU died of circulatory diseases in 2020 and almost 1.2 million died from cancer.

In the Republic, cancer accounted for 29.4 per cent of all deaths in 2020 – over 9,600 cases.

It was the highest proportion of cancer deaths among the 27 member states and contrasts with the EU average of 22.5 per cent and the lowest share in Bulgaria at 14.9 per cent.

A total of 8.835 people in Ireland died from diseases of the circulatory system in 2020 – 26.9 per cent of all deaths.

Around 85 per cent of all deaths across the EU in 2020 occurred among people aged 65 and over.

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