Crunching The Numbers


The official death toll (top) is clear.

But how many people really died of Covid-19?

Graham Neary writes:

I’ve gone deep into the mortality numbers for Ireland and Covid-19. This is what I’ve learned.

The death toll in Ireland from Covid-19 is officially 1,773. But this includes people who died from other things and people who were presumed to have it.

Analysts for the Irish government counted death notices online and reckoned there were between 851 and 1290 excess deaths by mid-June, with the middle estimate being 1,072.

Instead of using online death notices, I have sought out and gained access to the latest official death registration data, as of the end of July 2020 (above).

And here (above) are all of the monthly results from January to May for each year, ordered from largest to smallest. April 2020 and May 2020 are in red.

Here (above) are the cumulative deaths from January to May for each year

Two big oversights are:

1) Not all deaths for 2020 are registered yet. Officially you have three months to register a death, but I can see from previous snapshots that deaths continue to be registered after three months.

2) The population is growing.

My solutions:

1) I use differences between the end-June database and the end-July database to estimate likely future growth of 2020 numbers for Jan to May, through the end of October.

2) I divide all numbers by the population for each year, to get the monthly mortality rates.


I estimate that April 2020 was about as dangerous as Jan 2018 and Jan 2017 (flu seasons).

And May 2020 was about as dangerous as any other April or May.

So far, 2020 looks like it has been less dangerous than 2016, 2017 and 2018, based on deaths until May.

It is only looking more dangerous than 2017 and 2019.

What makes April 2020 different? It’s certainly shaping up to have been more dangerous than other Aprils.

And it was: the health system was shut down for many treatments, inpatients were asked to leave early, and many were too scared to attend A&E or their GP.

For England, the ONS estimated 16,000 non-Covid excess deaths were caused by lockdown (.0062 deaths per 1000 people per day).

The best I can do for an initial estimate of deaths in Ireland caused by lockdown is to translate this ONS figure across.

Resulting estimate: 916 deaths caused by Lockdown in Ireland in April 2020.

This wouldn’t leave very many excess deaths available for Covid and other causes

I acknowledge there are large gaps in my analysis. Detailed research (and the passing of time) will provide in-depth explanations for many of the above issues. However, I don’t see why my estimates would not be in the “ballpark” of truth. Please share with me your corrections.

My conclusions:

1) data does not yet support the claim that an extremely deadly virus (e.g. more dangerous than flu) was present and active in Ireland from March 2020.

2) deaths caused immediately by lockdown might have been significantly higher than deaths caused by the virus.

Previously: Counting The Dead

The Reporting Of Deaths

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45 thoughts on “Crunching The Numbers

  1. Chuckenstein

    This will be a timely read but, in the meantime, Dr. Scally has just done his best to bluff a few answers on the radio.

    1. Brother Barnabas

      I was more suggesting his emission would be spontaneous rather than self-administered

      1. SOQ

        Ah come on now Brother- if you have been following the analytics, this is bubbling through from a number of sources.

        Keep up the good work there Graham- never before have we needed independent voices like yours.

  2. Jonner

    conclusion is a bit premature

    probably missing some other information to normalise the data, things that mind

    lifestyle changes causing less deaths
    less driving and less workplace deaths
    less busy emergency departments better able to deal with emergencies as they present themselves resulting in fewer ED deaths

    1. Cian

      looking at one thing: according to NRA deaths to August this year as comparable to 2019… so there hasn’t been a noticeable drop in road deaths.

        1. SOQ

          Stage one and two cancer from Feb / March is where now?

          And we had that lizard O’Neill on The Late Late with a sewing machine promoting filthy home made masks.

  3. Cian

    Let me get this straight.
    – April 2020 has the highest number of deaths for any April (and the 3rd highest in the data series) NOT because of COVID at it’s peak, but because of the lockdown.
    – May 2020, which had the exact same lockdown state, has the lowest number of deaths in the data series, but the COVID peak had passed.

    I’m really struggling to accept this hypothesis.

    1. SOQ

      Ok how about that fact that over all fatalities from Jan to April are way down- not up- fact.

      Sweden stuck to the science while other countries did not. The PCR tests are picking up remnants of the virus which are now being presented as positive cases when in fact, ICU and fatalities are at near zero and nobody is getting sick.

      It is over- whiter it comes back or not next November is another story but right now- we should be getting back to normal asap.

    2. GiggidyGoo

      Have you gone into it as much as Graham Neary, or just haven’t been able to support your input properly by referring to Google?

  4. Rumbled Stealth King

    Just put your mask on.

    – You’ll be able to go around saying anything you like. Nobody will know it’s you.

    (It’s a bit like being on The Internet.)

  5. Hector Rameriz

    ‘I don’t give financial advice….’

    Handily he’s not doing that, he’s giving his conclusions for an ongoing pandemic.

  6. Micko

    Interesting reading.

    This coupled with the fact that most of the deaths were in nursing homes makes me think that most of the people were on the way out anyway.

    1. Rumbled Stealth King

      Good point. I’m with you fellow Human.

      Who needs Grandparents when they can’t even afford to send you a Birthday card through the Postal Service. They give it to your sister instead.

      – and when you open up the card there’s NO MONEY inside!

      They’ve been fooling us since before we were born. It’s PAYBACK time.

      (All of my grandparents are dead. It wasn’t me.)


      1. Micko

        Have you ever been in a nursing home pal?

        Awful places.

        Lost my Mother to early onset Alzheimer’s disease aged 64 about 18 months ago.

        So I know what I’m talking about.

        Maybe you should just stick to virtue signalling.

        1. Micko

          Actually now that I bring it up. It was an viral infection that got her in the end?

          So who’s to blame for her death – the alzheimer’s or the infection?

          You’ve no clue

          1. Micko

            Appreciated Janet.

            You can see from this why I’m vocal about the whole Covid thing.

            I changed my mind about the Covid lockdown when I heard most of the deaths were in nursing homes.

            I’m not a d!(k, I’ve just had a different experience to a lot of folks. ;-)

          2. Janet, dreams of big guns

            and all our opions and experiences should be at least listened to,
            ( I don’t really think there’s many dicks on here, a few bad communicators, frightened insular fools maybe and the odd troll but mostly a good bunch )

          3. Micko


            Bloody disagreeing with someone nowadays is akin to being a Nazi and getting pushed into a pit.

            “But, we only disagree on one issue – aaaaaaaagh”

          4. Gerry

            I was wondering exactly that point, about how difficult it is to say what people actually die of, particularly the elderly. My granny died of a flu for example, but the reason she died was that she had pancreatic cancer.

            Is that 1 for the flu, 1 for the cancer, or one for both? All solutions seem problematic

  7. Asitsaysinthepapers

    Seamus Coffey in UCC has done a thorough analysis of the realtime registered deaths, which do not suffer from the acknowledged lag associated with GRO figures. It shows up the analysis above for the nonsense that it is.

    Full details here:

    Though I doubt Coffey’s work will receive the same prominence on Broadsheet somehow…

  8. RobbieC

    Broadsheet, really?

    “1) data does not yet support the claim that an extremely deadly virus”.

    Duh… because we LOCKED DOWN bruv. Dog whistle to the tinfoil hats. What is this tripe.

    Look at Mexico, look at Brazil. Ok its not Ebola, we know its only killing people with high preexisting vulnerability UP UNTIL THE POINT OF HEALTH SYSTEM CAPACITY! Then it starts killing younger/less vulnerable. Morbidity risks are as yet unknown in the long term.

    1. Micko

      Bit hard to compare those counties there though.

      I don’t think that Mexico or Brazil would have been able to give all its citizens 350 blips a week to stay at home.

      And also, good point in the ICU beds. I’m sure the Irish government has been hard at work vastly increasing the number of ICU beds available ahead of Winter.

      Anyone know what number of ICU beds we’re at now.? (Genuine question – they may have increased em?)

  9. Zaccone

    Very interesting figures! All the data coming out is really pointing to corona having been not much more dangerous than a normal flu year for anyone under 75.

    1. SOQ

      The main difference being that flu is not so ageist. We had a bad flu in 2018- WHO KNEW? Not a word in the media and certainly no superstitious voodoo mask nonsense.

      We will be asked to pluck a feather off a live chicken before entering a Tesco or Dunnes so we have ‘the cure’ next- M&S being organically reared on fox free fields of course.

  10. SOQ

    I somewhat wonder why people get annoyed when engineers get involved in this debate. They are not medics after all but 1000 of this virus lined up in a row is about the size of a human hair so who has not spat a hair out on occasion?

    UCD/ UUJ humour- I thank you.

  11. Gay Fawkes

    Yeah, interesting but I would say a lot of non -Covid deaths in the past few months are way down because people are in lockdown. Elderly people falling on the street, pedestrians, cyclists being struck, crashes, bar fights, homicides, heart attacks from exertions in the vulnerable which can often happen on flights or in other high-stress situations would all be reduced. From a sociological perspective if anomie is to be taken as a realistic theory I would guess that suicides are also down in the past few months. In times of upheaval such as war suicides generally fall as there is a sense of community spirit and togetherness bringing otherwise lonely and vulnerable people closer to other human beings. That’s according to Durkheim.

    It would be interesting to know the suicide figures for lockdown. I know there was definitely a surge in calls to helplines like the Samaritans but whether suicides increased remains to be seen. I’m going to bet that they didn’t. Zoom and the like brought more people together.

  12. rafter

    Terrible to see half baked analysis like this in the forum.
    Disappointed that broadsheet would put up.
    The government have been pretty clear on that the numbers are somewhat inflated but only by a percentage. This is because they count all COVID related death. Some of these would have died anyway but better than hiding the numbers like other countries.
    HIQA already reported this that it was probably several hundred less but still will over 1000.
    The facial times also has a very clear analysis, not for Ireland but for other countries. You can see a comparison with the average of the last for years.
    Clear the countries that have managed the pandemic poorly have huge excesses in deaths.
    Coronavirus tracked: the latest figures as countries reopen | Free to read – via @FT

  13. H

    I’m a statistician (in the UK, so no vested interest here, other than to see professional standards being upheld) and my conclusion is that this person should stick to their day job and leave interpretation of national statistics to the professionals.

  14. Hugh Torpey

    Excuse my ignorance, but…

    Surely if we *didn’t* go into lockdown there would’ve have been many more excess deaths?

    The absence of data in this situation is just as pertinent as using old statistical models when we are talking about something new.

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