Concern over second wave of deaths in Irish nursing homes

With the extension of the third lockdown in the Republic of Ireland until at least the 5th of April, Ireland is one of the most restricted countries in Europe [1].

The lockdowns and restrictions have been justified on the basis that they were to protect the most vulnerable in society, namely our elderly and those with underlying medical conditions.

The incessant repetition of this narrative from the mainstream media has left these policies relatively unquestioned by the general public.

Health Freedom Ireland was made aware of excess deaths in Nursing homes from the third week of January 2021. Following further analysis of publicly available data on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ireland, the picture that emerges is that COVID-19 policies, have fallen far short of helping the most vulnerable members in society. The official COVID-19 responses have lacked transparency, adaptability and efficiency. 

In the first lockdown over half of all deaths occurred in Nursing Homes [2]. It is on the public record that the HSE moved large numbers of elderly patients from hospitals into nursing homes to clear hospital beds, and did not test them for COVID-19. This policy led to large numbers of outbreaks in nursing homes, which were inadequately resourced with medical staff and PPE [3].

Health Freedom Ireland carried out research on deaths in a sample of 60 nursing homes from January 2020 to February 2021, combined with publicly available pandemic data.

The results of this study are shown in Figures 1 & 2 below. 

The data graphed in Figures 1, 2 & 3 are discussed in the following paragraphs.

Please note that COVID-19 case trends are referred to as waves as often there is a lag between government restrictions and epidemiological events.

Figure 1: Deaths in HFI nursing homes study January 2020 – January 2021

Figure 2: COVID-19 data Ireland 29/02/2020 - 10/03/2021 [4]

Figure 3: Timeline of COVID-19 Pandemic in Ireland

1. First Covid-19 Wave: 29th Feb – 20th May 2020

Despite a general lockdown being announced on the 27th of March, deaths in Ireland peaked on the 24th of April.  In the nursing home sample reviewed by HFI there were 129 deaths. 

This was a 65% increase above the yearly average of 76 deaths in the nursing home sample (see Fig.1).  

During this period the overall case fatality rate (CFR) for COVID-19 classified deaths in the Irish population was 6.46%. Total COVID-19 classified deaths in the State were 1571. Total average deaths per day was 19. During the first wave deaths increased by 12.5% on average per day. This period accounted for 36.37% of the total deaths classified as COVID-19 in Ireland to date (See Fig. 2).

2. Second Wave: September 1st – 30th of November 2020

During the second wave of COVID-19 cases, deaths in the nursing home sample set were below its yearly average.

During this period the overall case fatality rate of COVID-19 in Ireland was 0.63%. There were 276 deaths attributed to COVID-19 in this period. There were 3 deaths per day on average. COVID-19 classified deaths increased by 0.16% per day on average. This period accounted for 6.39% of the total classified deaths in the COVID-19 pandemic.

3. Third Wave: 15th December – 31st of December 2021 Pre-Vaccine Rollout.

Deaths in the nursing home sample in December and January were 88 and 104 respectively (See Fig.1). 

During this period the case fatality rate of COVID-19 in Ireland was 0.69% similar to the second wave. There were 103 deaths attributed to COVID-19 in this period. There were 7 deaths per day on average. COVID-19 classified deaths increased by 0.3% per day on average. This period accounted for 2.38% of the total deaths in the COVID-19 pandemic.

This was not entirely unexpected, due to the seasonal nature of respiratory illnesses [5], [6] and a large number of COVID-19 cases reported.

4. Lockdown 3: Post-Vaccine Rollout 1st January 2021 – Present 

During this period deaths in the HFI nursing home sample increased to 444. This is a staggering 484% increase on the previous yearly average number of deaths in the study sample (see Fig.1).

In this same period the case fatality rate of COVID-19 in Ireland doubled to 1.78%. There have been 2251 deaths attributed to COVID-19 in this period. There have been 33 deaths per day on average. COVID-19 classified deaths increased by 1.02% per day on average, triple the rate before the vaccine rollout. This period has accounted for 50.03% of the total deaths in the COVID-19 pandemic, by far the most deadly phase of the crisis.

An analysis of the HSE hospital capacity during this period shows that COVID-19 patients in ICU peaked on the 23rd of January with 221 patients, declining to 134 on the 28th of February, the date for which the latest data was available for.

COVID-19 hospitalisations in non-intensive care peaked at 2020 patients on the 18th of January, declining to 554 patients on the 28th of February, the date at which latest data was available for.

Thus even if this decline in ICU and hospitalisations were a result of death, the mortality rates during the post vaccination rollout indicate that a significant amount of these deaths were occurring outside the hospital system.

Health Freedom Ireland have raised these concerns with the Taoiseach, Minister for Health, HSE, HIQA, and HPRA. HFI has requested a suspension to the vaccine rollout pending an immediate investigation by the above parties to provide transparency and assurance that the vaccination rollout is safe and working as intended. 

References

[1]
Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford, Radcliffe Observatory Quarter,, "COVID-19 Government Response Tracker," 2021. [Online]. Available: https://covidtracker.bsg.ox.ac.uk/stringency-map. [Accessed 04 03 2021].
[2]
Radio Teilifís Éireann, "High percentage of virus deaths in Ireland's care homes highlighted in comparison report," RTE, 27 May 2020. [Online]. Available: https://www.rte.ie/news/coronavirus/2020/0527/1143036-covid-deaths-ireland/. [Accessed 04 03 2021].
[3]
Health Freedom Ireland, "Dr Marcus De Brun — Irish Nursing Home Covid-19 Deaths: Deaths of Neglect Inflicted by the State," 26 December 2020. [Online]. Available: https://dryburgh.com/marcus-de-brun-irish-nursing-home-covid19-deaths/. [Accessed 04 03 2021].
[4]
Our World in Data, "Covid Cases and Deaths," 02 03 2021. [Online]. Available: https://ourworldindata.org/search?q=Covid+Cases+and+Deaths. [Accessed 02 03 2021].
[5]
P. M. D. A. P. C. L. A. B. S. B. C. R. E. M. E. T. M. J. G. P. Arnold S Monto, "Coronavirus Occurrence and Transmission Over 8 Years in the HIVE Cohort of Households in Michigan," The Journal of Infectious Diseases, vol. 222, no. 1, p. 9–16, 2020. 
[6]
S. Walrand, "Autumn COVID-19 surge dates in Europe correlated to latitudes, not to temperature-humidity, pointing to vitamin D as contributing factor," 2021. [Online]. Available: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-021-81419-w. [Accessed 05 03 2021].
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