COVID-19 Action Group Blog

Welcome to the COVID-19 Action Group Blog, created by the Society's COVID-19 Action Group (CAG).

If you have any feedback or you are interested in information about contributing to the blog, please contact the Society.

Blogs:

Feet at cross road

Excess Mortality - Blog #16

COVID-19 Public Interest Subgroup

Date published: October 2021

As Ireland looks to lift the last of its restrictions and move into, hopefully, a post-pandemic phase, it is important to remember that while the pandemic may be ending in much of the world, the virus has not been eradicated - medical opinion seems to indicate that COVID-19 is here to stay and will become endemic in our populations. New variants may yet emerge which can evade the existing vaccines or challenge our immune defences in other ways. In Ireland and much of the developed world, the prospect of returning to “normality” is real and imminent but we should not be complacent, either as individuals or as actuaries. The risk of another pandemic or of the long-term effects of COVID-19 changing our view of mortality is something we all need to think about.

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We are open

Excess Mortality - Blog #15

COVID-19 Public Interest Subgroup

Date published: September 2021

Since our last update on the April 2021 data, the monthly data had shown close to “normal” levels of deaths in Ireland.  The latest data for July, however, shows a recent jump in the number of deaths observed. This prompted an updated view of the Irish experience to date, which we present below.

As Ireland emerges from our restricted environment into the post-vaccine and hopefully, post COVID‑19 world, we need to keep in mind that the world as a whole is still gripped by the pandemic. With the lifting of restrictions on non-essential travel and the potential for new variants to emerge, the experience in other countries may yet impact Irish experience. As the WHO, the UN and various international health bodies have repeatedly said, no one is safe until everyone is.

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CAG Blog 14

Excess Mortality - Blog #14

COVID-19 Public Interest Subgroup

Date published: June 2021

During the first wave of deaths which occurred in March to June last year there were reports from abroad of gender bias which varied in severity but all showed excess mortality to be less in females than males.  Our research on Irish deaths was inconclusive in that regard but we noted that there may have been influences which obscured any gender bias effect. In particular, a lack of detail in the data to which we had access as well as the higher than normal level of deaths in sheltered care environments where the population is more predominantly female than in the general population.

In more recent months, our regular analysis has been showing a fairly clear male bias in overall deaths but the data underlying our previous analysis was unable to tell us

  1. whether men are more likely to die from the virus if they get it (i.e. a bias in the virus itself or male immunity) and/or
  2. whether men are dying in greater numbers because they are more likely to get it in the first place (i.e. a bias in the cultural/societal/workplace responses to the virus).

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Light at end of tunnel

Excess Mortality - Blog #13

COVID-19 Public Interest Subgroup

Date published: May 2021

The data suggests that we have returned to “normal” levels of deaths in Ireland but we saw the same indicators last summer only to be followed by the second/third wave. It is important that we learn from this experience and remain vigilant so we do not repeat the pattern. The light at the end of the pandemic tunnel is in sight for Ireland and other wealthy countries but the world as a whole is still gripped by the pandemic and, as the WHO, the UN and various international health bodies have repeatedly said, no one is safe until everyone is.

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COVID-19 anniversary

Excess Mortality - Blog #12

COVID-19 Public Interest Subgroup

Date published: April 2021

As we pass the one-year anniversary since the first deaths relating to Covid-19 in Ireland we have all sadly become accustomed to hearing the daily updates on the latest case and death figures. Over the last year there have been many discussions on how the virus has impacted society and in particular the number of deaths. The terms “excess mortality” and “excess deaths” have become commonplace with mainstream press and commentators (e.g. RTÉ, Irish Times and Independent) using the concept to illustrate the total impact of the pandemic on deaths in Ireland.

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Youth

Excess Mortality - Blog #11

COVID-19 Public Interest Subgroup

Date published: April 2021

A second consecutive month with a large drop in the number of deaths relative to the previous month is cause for celebration. Nonetheless, emerging anecdotal evidence from other countries that younger people are increasingly at risk, is a reminder that we are not at the end of the pandemic path yet.

In this post we present the results of our March 2021 analysis. Our updated results are based on data from RIP.ie to 1 April 2021 and all data processing and analysis has been undertaken in line with the approach outlined in our earlier blogs.

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Donegal Trend?

 

Excess Mortality - Blog #10

COVID-19 Public Interest Subgroup

Date published: March 2021

Has Donegal really been experiencing lower than average deaths during the pandemic?

Our regularly published Excess Mortality post contains a table illustrating the estimated excess mortality rates by county since March 2020. One particular point of note from this exercise is that excess mortality figures estimated for Donegal have, unexpectedly, been significantly negative (i.e. the number of deaths appears to have been lower than the average level). In this post, we investigate this result and consider what this means for the excess mortality figures we have observed to date; has Donegal actually experienced lighter mortality during the pandemic or has there been a change in the reporting of Donegal deaths on RIP.ie since the beginning of 2020?

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Lockdown results 2021

 

Excess Mortality - Blog #9

COVID-19 Public Interest Subgroup

Date published: March 2021

Despite the challenges of limiting social interaction during the darker winter days, we have persevered. We are deep into another lockdown and the impacts are starting to be visible in the data, there has been a big drop the number of deaths compared to last month. The level of deaths is still significantly higher than we would expect for this time of year so there is more work to be done both as individuals and as a Society. The arrival of vaccines offers refreshed hope but it will take time to get to everyone, now is not the time to drop our guard.

In this post we present the results of our February 2021 analysis. Our updated results are based on data from RIP.ie to 1 March 2021 and all data processing and analysis has been undertaken in line with the approach outlined in our earlier blogs.

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Health service under pressure

 

Excess Mortality - Blog #8

COVID-19 Public Interest Subgroup

Date published: February 2021

We all knew beforehand that the excesses of the festive period would cause a spike in COVID-19 infection. Nonetheless, the magnitude of the spike seen and the extent to which it has translated into increased hospitalisations and ultimately deaths is shocking. As individuals we must personally consider how our behaviour impacts COVID-19 prevalence, our health service and society as a whole. As actuaries we must consider to what extent this cause-and-effect pattern and the general ongoing uncertainty needs to be reflected in our day to day work.

In this post we present the results of our January 2021 analysis and reflect on the final month of a year that few are likely to forget. 

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Blog #7

Excess Mortality - Blog #7

COVID-19 Public Interest Subgroup

Date published: January 2021

In this post we present the results of our December 2020 analysis and reflect on the final month of a year that few are likely to forget. 

Early December saw the easing of restrictions after a six-week period of lockdown, with a swift return to level 5 before the month had ended, in response to increasing infection rates. We examine the excess mortality during this period and consider the impact on the year-to-date results.

Our updated results are based on data from RIP.ie to January 1, 2021 and all data processing and analysis has been undertaken in line with the approach outlined in our earlier blogs.

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COVID Winter

 

Excess Mortality - Blog #6

COVID-19 Public Interest Subgroup

Date published: December 2020

With winter setting in and “lockdown 2” being eased for the festive season, we expect to see an increasing number of COVID-19 cases over the coming weeks. Now is a good time to look at where we are and how things have changed over the year.

In our previous post, we considered excess mortality up to September 2020 when it appeared likely we were entering a second wave of infections and deaths. Since then, it has become clear that we are having a second wave, albeit less significant presumably because of public health measures which were introduced to stop the spread of COVID-19 and have evolved since the onset of the virus. The Government response was swift with Ireland being the first EU country to re-enter full lockdown in October 2020. So how has all this impacted excess mortality?

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2nd Wave

Excess Mortality - Blog #5

COVID-19 Public Interest Subgroup

Date published: October 2020

On 3 September, we hosted a panel discussion on excess mortality including Jon Flanagan from the CSO, Dr Gerard McCarthy from Maynooth University, Andrew Smith from University College Dublin and John Nolan from the Society’s COVID-19 excess mortality group. The event was a great success with excellent presentations all round and an engaging discussion between panel and participants. The session was recorded and can be found on actuview.

The excess mortality session touched on the impact of August data on our ongoing analysis. In this post we will present the full refresh of our previous analysis to include August and September data from RIP.ie. All data processing and analysis has been undertaken in line with the approach outlined in our earlier blogs.

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July COVID Blog

 

Excess Mortality - Blog #4

COVID-19 Public Interest Subgroup

Date published: August 2020

In this post we refresh our previous analysis to include July data from RIP.ie. All data processing and analysis has been undertaken in line with the approach outlined in our earlier blogs.

While the July data shows an overall improvement in excess mortality, this is an ever-changing situation and the daily confirmed cases for the first week of August are more than double the average daily figures reported in July. Therefore, we need to continue to review our analysis and use this to help draw conclusions on the most up to date data.

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Review

Excess Mortality - Blog #3

COVID-19 Public Interest Subgroup

Date published: July 2020

Life in Ireland has changed rapidly throughout 2020 as COVID-19 has spread throughout our island. The pace of change makes it essential that we keep reviewing our analysis of the situation. The conclusion that we drew a few weeks ago may not be the conclusion we would reach today.

In this post we refresh our previous analysis to include June data from RIP.ie. All data processing and analysis has been undertaken in line with the approach outlined in our earlier blogs.

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Gender diff 2

Excess Mortality - Blog #2

COVID-19 Public Interest Subgroup

Date published: June 2020

In this post, we ask ourselves whether there is any evidence of gender bias in the COVID-19 deaths in Ireland as has been reported in other jurisdictions. We have built on our work and that of various academics referenced in post #1 to analyse deaths by gender.

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Excess mortality image

 

Excess Mortality - Blog #1

COVID-19 Public Interest Subgroup

Date published:  June 2020

Every time you turn on the news or open a newspaper these days, there is talk about excess mortality in the context of the current COVID-19 pandemic. At this stage, most people are aware that excess mortality is the number of deaths over and above those we would normally expect to die in the period (based on historical averages). We have all seen the graphs showing how direct deaths from COVID-19 account for some, but not all, of the excess mortality across the globe but what is the picture at home in Ireland? How much excess mortality are we actually experiencing?  

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