Ask A Broadsheet Reader


EURO MOMO detects and measure ‘excess deaths related to seasonal influenza, pandemics and other public health threats’

Anon writes:

Could you ask one of your mathematics competent regulars to look at this?

I was looking at the EURO MOMO site this morning and checked the Irish situation.

EURO MOMO uses the Z-scale to monitor excess mortality throughout Europe. Z numbers are a statistical method based on the expected mortality rate for each week of the year.

A Z score of 2 for the country ( which equals 2 x the Standard Deviation of the base line ) is considered to start moving above the expected.

I was shocked to see that Ireland has not had, and has never has had, a problem with covid-19. In fact the Z score for week 19 in Ireland is negative, which means Ireland had less deaths than expected for that week.

Ireland’s peak weekly total at 492 in week 17 has a Z-score of -1.76. Definitely not a problem.

Look at “Map of z-scores by country” and use the timeline slider to look at week 15 onwards and then at “Z-scores by country” to see the Z numbers graph.

Compare with England, Belgium, Italy, France and Spain….



Z scores?

21 thoughts on “Ask A Broadsheet Reader

    1. Orla

      I’m not sure that’s the case, most spikes happened after lockdown it seems, the data wasn’t clear but itS becoming clearer in other countries so will be interesting to see if it holds correct for here.

      1. milk teeth

        Comparing countries directly is also next to impossible. Outbreaks spread differently in different environments. Northern Ireland locked down at the same time as the UK and per capita has had less deaths than us.
        The UK’s huge death rate can largely be attributed to the epidemic in London. London got hit exceptionally hard because it’s a huge, densely populated international city. The British Government really dropped the ball on not locking down London earlier. But the same measures when introduced in NI seem to have been quite effective.

  1. Clampers Outside

    Thanks for posting. Interesting site that.
    I did a search on it, and I think this answers the question:

    From that website:

    “Note on data from Ireland

    In Ireland, as a result of very significant delays in death registrations during March and April 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, weekly z-scores of excess all-cause mortality do not reflect current COVID-19 (and non-COVID-19) excess mortality in Ireland. Further data on notified COVID-19 deaths in Ireland are available on the website.”

      1. Clampers Outside

        Thanks for that.

        Aye, I had seen in a website or two, Guardian and ?, that Ireland’s data / reporting was said to be robust compared to a lot of other countries.

  2. David J

    I would imagine the lockdown is having other affects on death rate such as – suppression of the amount of deaths from regular flus, less road deaths, less murders, less tragic accidents in workplaces, waterways, after nights out etc. So in more than one way the death rates have been suppressed.

    1. Cian

      True – but to balance that there are probably increases in other areas – people that are avoiding hospitals because of COVID, missed operations, missed cancer treatments.

  3. Orla

    NPHET and Tony holohan are appalling , still no clear data at this point from deaths to testing, people using isn’t exactly ideal to be extracting the information from, I get that we can extract an increase in deaths from it but it’s not specifying what’s covid19, comorbidity with covid 19 and those who were put on ventilation with the possibility of induced coma.

    RTE’s piece on Sweden yesterday was shockingly bad, the article stays talking about infection rates and doesn’t bother to go into details about the fact that Sweden only has 22 more deaths without economic shutdown, they had over 100 icu beds full during their peak but RTÉ fails to inform us of the demographics difference between Ireland and Sweden ,Swedes have far more people over 65, this is statistically relevant to say the least.
    Tony holohan believes the Swedish model would have decimated Ireland because of the need for 100 plus more icu beds, unlikely we would have needed even that number of beds when we adjust for demographics, this is coming from Tony Holohan who had hand in slowing down the cervical check investigations.

    Now the only argument left to justify mass shutdown is the “what if’s” or Sweden/Belarus are all lying.
    Was a mass economic shutdown worth 1200 extra deaths for this period ?The reality now being a lockdown wouldn’t have spiked this number much more if the elderly hadn’t been neglected or stuck on ventilators. Nobody bothering to ask Tony about exponential growth we were told was going to decimate us either if we didn’t lock down, we see spikes and drops on all charts, many spikes after lockdown.
    I’m not tying to sound cold hearted but some folks out there are in really bad shape because of this, politicians ,media, big pharma and the corporate bailout brigade meanwhile are doing just fine.

    1. SOQ


      They way in which this was approached, with the elderly being an afterthought, despite clear evidence that they were the highest risk group was at best, negligent. And still not one journalist asking where Leo’s 600k infections figure on the 17th March came from.

      There is a lot of talk about Leo being a doctor and how useful that is but not a single word about the fact that the minister for health has not enough experience to manage your local Tesco let alone one if not the biggest department in the state.

      1. Cian

        And still not one journalist asking where Leo’s 600k infections figure on the 17th March came from.

        Possibly because they understand where it came from.

        In March most countries were doubling the number of cases every 3 days (Ireland went from 1 case on 2nd March to 223 on the 17th), If you keep that up for another 45 days you’d hit 600,000.

        Real world example USA: had 292 cases on 5-Mar and 37 days later they had 606,000; Granted they have a larger population, but they hit the 600K 8 days early.

        1. SOQ

          So while England were employing academic modelers, Ireland was doing a back of an envelope job? Not that I am saying either was right of course- neither were.

          1. Cian

            What is your point?

            The data available in March was showing the numbers in countries that had no restrictions were doubling every three days.

            If that keeps happening you go from 250 to 600,000 in 45 days.

            This actually happened in the USA (in 37 days). For real. This simple model (cases double every 3 days) has been proven to be correct.

            Why do you doubt that if Ireland had done nothing that we would have had 600K cases (albeit most of these untested since the country would be banjacksed) by the start of May.

          2. bisted

            …Leo’s 600k figure is supposed to be a worse case scenario but looks quite Conservative if you were to employ the same exponential to 1 in 50 of the crowd that travelled to Cheltenham returning infected…

        2. Orla

          To be fair Cian examples had shown it wouldn’t happen, I can understand not trusting Chinese data initially but the cruise ship was also relevant. The spike is intense but it drops.
          I was all for a risk averse stance at the start but this lot knew more and politicized it, if the virus was showing such virulence they would have locked down quicker, all virologists would have been on board, for what the excessive lockdown was for we currently don’t know.

          Keep in mind we are using PCR testing, amplifying RNA , in France this was present before Christmas ,we now know so it tells us if we tested more folks with PCR many more will Have covid RNA, if it was a deadly Exponential explosion of sort we would have known all about earlier based on the maths you use, the hysteria correlates with the testing, were those who died in January dying with covid for example? Or was it just considered the end of life stages as usual with “don’t resuscitate ” notice on the elderly charts in homes, it would have progressed slowly.
          It’s really disconcerting at this point as to why they won’t increase PCR testing, we are seeing the relevancy of this statistically as America increases testing.

          1. Cian

            The USA went from 292 cases to 600,000 cases in 37 days.
            The number of cases literally doubling every 3 days.
            It did happen.

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