NI's comparative COVID-19 related death rate

Press/Media: Expert Comment

Description

Radio Interview with Q Radio

Subject

COVID-19 related death rate in NI as of late June 2020 compared to RoI, GB and internationally.

 

The underying Press release:

 

Release: Immediate Monday 29 June 2020

Grim Stats: COVID death rates Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland: GB and International comparisons

Dr Esmond Birnie, Senior Economist, Ulster University Business School

“Summary: Four points

  • Using as comparable a basis as possible, the statistics for the period until 25 June indicate the cumulative death rate in NI and the RoI was broadly similar: 42 and 35 per 100,000 population, respectively. That difference is not that large and might be partly/largely explained by variations in definitions and reporting. The difference, however, may be “real”, explained in part by NI’s higher population density and relatively older population.

  • We can be very certain that the cumulative death rates in both NI and RoI (42 and 35 respectively) were far short of those in GB: 82 for England and Wales and 74 for Scotland.

  • Some of that difference between NI and RoI and GB may be explained by the much higher population density in England: three times higher than that NI and six times higher than that in RoI.

  • Some international comparisons, notwithstanding the caveats as to whether a COVID death is being defined in exactly the same way, are much less favourable to NI and RoI. Rates have been many times higher than those in New Zealand, Australia, Austria, Finland, Norway and Denmark.

 

 

 

Comparison of death rates in terms of COVID-related in all settings

 

This exercise is not as straightforward as might be hoped- there are uncertainties as to how far the data include all deaths related to COVID, it is unclear to what extent like is really being compared to like, and there are lags in terms of how up-to-date the results are. Here is a comparison, as up-to-date as possible, until 12 June 2020:

Table 2: Our comparison of COVID death rates for NI, RoI and GB, 12 June 2020

 

Source

Cumulative until

COVID deaths

Population figure used

COVID death rate per million

Pop-ulation density

2018, persons per km2

NI

COVID-19 on death certificate. NISRA (26 June 2020).

12 June 2020

795

1.8937m (NISRA projection for June 2019, 6 May 2020)

419.8

136

RoI

COVID deaths across all settings- those with a positive test for the virus plus “probable and suspected”. Health Protection Surveillance Centre 26 June 2020: https://covid19ireland-geohive.hub.arcgis.com/

12 June 2020

1705

4.9215m (CSO projection for April 2019, 27 Aug. 2020)

346.4

71

England&Wales

COVID-19 on death certificate. ONS 23 June 2020, “Deaths registered weekly in England and Wales, provisional”.

12 June 2020

48538

59.43984 m(CSO, 2019)

816.6

392

Scotland

COVID-19 on death certificate. ONS 24 June 2020, “Deaths involving coronavirus in Scotland, Week 25, 15 to 21 June 2020”

14 June 2020

4070

5.463667m (CSO, 2019)

744.9

70

 

 

NI has a much higher population density (high density makes rapid spread of the virus more likely because social distancing is harder). NI also has a higher elderly population (over 60s are generally much more liable to die from COVID). At the same time, given a higher proportion of the population from black and minority ethnic backgrounds, the RoI’s susceptibility to COVID-19 deaths may have been somewhat increased (though given that the population share difference is only about three percentage points probably not by enough to outweigh the favourable impact of having a younger and less dense population).

 

Comparison to other Western countries

 

The following Diagram shows that across the Western countries higher population density is generally associated with relatively higher COVID-19 death rates. The red, “best fit”, line indicates the extent to which as density goes up, the death rate also tends to be higher.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Diagram 1: COVID-19 death rate- narrower definition*- 25 June 2020 (deaths per 1m) compared to 2018 population density (persons per squ. km.)

 

Note: *: The international date tends to be restricted to deaths in hospital and/or those with a positive test result. NI’s COVID-19 death rate for 25 June 2020 (Department for Health Dashboard figure for where there is a positive test for COVID-19).RoI’s figure, similarly, on a “narrower basis” than that in Table 1.

Sources: NISRA, Wordometer (The Times, 25 June 2020), World Bank (2020).

 

Of the countries shown, NI ranks 9th out of 26 in terms of population density (see Annex) and also 10th of the 26 in terms of COVID death rates. High population density countries such as the Netherlands, Belgium and the UK have some of the highest COVID-19 death rates. It is also true that some lower density countries such as France, Spain, Sweden and the USA also have relatively high death rates. The data suggests that rather than the RoI’s death rate being relatively low  it is out of line compared to other Western countries with very low population densities. The same applies to NI. NI’s rate is about seventy times that in Australia and New Zealand and four to six times higher than that in Austria, Finland and Norway and three times that in Denmark.”

 

 

Ends

 

 

 

ANNEX Table 2: Western country population densities (2018) and COVID-19 death rates/narrower definition, 25 June 2020

 

Population density, per km squ

 

Death rate per m., 25 June 2020*

 

 

Netherlands

511

 

356

 

 

Belgium

376

 

839

 

 

UK

275

 

637

 

 

Germany

237

 

108

 

 

Switzerland

215

 

226

 

 

Italy

205

 

574

 

 

Czech Republic

138

 

32

 

 

Denmark

138

 

104

 

 

NI

136

 

289

 

 

Poland

124

 

37

 

 

France

122

 

456

 

 

Portugal

112

 

152

 

 

Hungary

108

 

60

 

 

Austria

107

 

78

 

 

Spain

94

 

606

 

 

Romania

85

 

81

 

 

Serbia

80

 

30

 

 

Ukraine

77

 

24

 

 

RoI

71

 

299

24-Jun

 

USA

36

 

384

 

 

Sweden

25

 

518

 

 

New Zealand

19

 

4

 

 

Finland

18

 

59

 

 

Norway

15

 

46

 

 

Canada

4

 

225

 

 

Australia

3

 

4

 

 

 

Sources: For COVID-19 death rates 25 June 2020: NISRA, Wordometer (The Times, 26 June 2020). For population densities World Bank (2020) and for NI Statista.com.

NI for 25 June 2020 Department of Health Dashboard COVID-19 Death Details: https://app.powerbi.com/view?r=eyJrIjoiZGYxNjYzNmUtOTlmZS00ODAxLWE1YTEtMjA0NjZhMzlmN2JmIiwidCI6IjljOWEzMGRlLWQ4ZDctNGFhNC05NjAwLTRiZTc2MjVmZjZjNSIsImMiOjh9

RoI for 24 June 2020 Statement from the National Public Health Emergency Team 26 June 2020:https://www.gov.ie/en/press-release/93d1b-statement-from-the-national-public-health-emergency-team-friday-26-june/

Note:*: Wordometer uses the “narrower” (death in hospital/COVID positive test) for the UK and it is assumed this is the case for the other countries. Because of this we used the same, narrower definition for both NI and the RoI (rather than the broader “COVID-related” definition used in Table 1 above.

Period29 Jun 2020

Media contributions

1

Media contributions

  • TitleNI's comparative COVID-19 related death rate compared to RoI, GB and internationally
    Degree of recognitionRegional
    Media name/outletQ Radio
    Media typeRadio
    CountryUnited Kingdom
    Date29/06/20
    DescriptionRelease: Immediate Monday 29 June 2020 Grim Stats: COVID death rates Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland: GB and International comparisons Dr Esmond Birnie, Senior Economist, Ulster University Business School “Summary: Four points • Using as comparable a basis as possible, the statistics for the period until 25 June indicate the cumulative death rate in NI and the RoI was broadly similar: 42 and 35 per 100,000 population, respectively. That difference is not that large and might be partly/largely explained by variations in definitions and reporting. The difference, however, may be “real”, explained in part by NI’s higher population density and relatively older population. • We can be very certain that the cumulative death rates in both NI and RoI (42 and 35 respectively) were far short of those in GB: 82 for England and Wales and 74 for Scotland. • Some of that difference between NI and RoI and GB may be explained by the much higher population density in England: three times higher than that NI and six times higher than that in RoI. • Some international comparisons, notwithstanding the caveats as to whether a COVID death is being defined in exactly the same way, are much less favourable to NI and RoI. Rates have been many times higher than those in New Zealand, Australia, Austria, Finland, Norway and Denmark. Comparison of death rates in terms of COVID-related in all settings This exercise is not as straightforward as might be hoped- there are uncertainties as to how far the data include all deaths related to COVID, it is unclear to what extent like is really being compared to like, and there are lags in terms of how up-to-date the results are. Here is a comparison, as up-to-date as possible, until 12 June 2020: Table 2: Our comparison of COVID death rates for NI, RoI and GB, 12 June 2020 Source Cumulative until COVID deaths Population figure used COVID death rate per million Pop-ulation density 2018, persons per km2 NI COVID-19 on death certificate. NISRA (26 June 2020). 12 June 2020 795 1.8937m (NISRA projection for June 2019, 6 May 2020) 419.8 136 RoI COVID deaths across all settings- those with a positive test for the virus plus “probable and suspected”. Health Protection Surveillance Centre 26 June 2020: https://covid19ireland-geohive.hub.arcgis.com/ 12 June 2020 1705 4.9215m (CSO projection for April 2019, 27 Aug. 2020) 346.4 71 England&Wales COVID-19 on death certificate. ONS 23 June 2020, “Deaths registered weekly in England and Wales, provisional”. 12 June 2020 48538 59.43984 m(CSO, 2019) 816.6 392 Scotland COVID-19 on death certificate. ONS 24 June 2020, “Deaths involving coronavirus in Scotland, Week 25, 15 to 21 June 2020” 14 June 2020 4070 5.463667m (CSO, 2019) 744.9 70 NI has a much higher population density (high density makes rapid spread of the virus more likely because social distancing is harder). NI also has a higher elderly population (over 60s are generally much more liable to die from COVID). At the same time, given a higher proportion of the population from black and minority ethnic backgrounds, the RoI’s susceptibility to COVID-19 deaths may have been somewhat increased (though given that the population share difference is only about three percentage points probably not by enough to outweigh the favourable impact of having a younger and less dense population). Comparison to other Western countries The following Diagram shows that across the Western countries higher population density is generally associated with relatively higher COVID-19 death rates. The red, “best fit”, line indicates the extent to which as density goes up, the death rate also tends to be higher. Diagram 1: COVID-19 death rate- narrower definition*- 25 June 2020 (deaths per 1m) compared to 2018 population density (persons per squ. km.) Note: *: The international date tends to be restricted to deaths in hospital and/or those with a positive test result. NI’s COVID-19 death rate for 25 June 2020 (Department for Health Dashboard figure for where there is a positive test for COVID-19).RoI’s figure, similarly, on a “narrower basis” than that in Table 1. Sources: NISRA, Wordometer (The Times, 25 June 2020), World Bank (2020). Of the countries shown, NI ranks 9th out of 26 in terms of population density (see Annex) and also 10th of the 26 in terms of COVID death rates. High population density countries such as the Netherlands, Belgium and the UK have some of the highest COVID-19 death rates. It is also true that some lower density countries such as France, Spain, Sweden and the USA also have relatively high death rates. The data suggests that rather than the RoI’s death rate being relatively low it is out of line compared to other Western countries with very low population densities. The same applies to NI. NI’s rate is about seventy times that in Australia and New Zealand and four to six times higher than that in Austria, Finland and Norway and three times that in Denmark.” Ends ANNEX Table 2: Western country population densities (2018) and COVID-19 death rates/narrower definition, 25 June 2020 Population density, per km squ Death rate per m., 25 June 2020* Netherlands 511 356 Belgium 376 839 UK 275 637 Germany 237 108 Switzerland 215 226 Italy 205 574 Czech Republic 138 32 Denmark 138 104 NI 136 289 Poland 124 37 France 122 456 Portugal 112 152 Hungary 108 60 Austria 107 78 Spain 94 606 Romania 85 81 Serbia 80 30 Ukraine 77 24 RoI 71 299 24-Jun USA 36 384 Sweden 25 518 New Zealand 19 4 Finland 18 59 Norway 15 46 Canada 4 225 Australia 3 4 Sources: For COVID-19 death rates 25 June 2020: NISRA, Wordometer (The Times, 26 June 2020). For population densities World Bank (2020) and for NI Statista.com. NI for 25 June 2020 Department of Health Dashboard COVID-19 Death Details: https://app.powerbi.com/view?r=eyJrIjoiZGYxNjYzNmUtOTlmZS00ODAxLWE1YTEtMjA0NjZhMzlmN2JmIiwidCI6IjljOWEzMGRlLWQ4ZDctNGFhNC05NjAwLTRiZTc2MjVmZjZjNSIsImMiOjh9 RoI for 24 June 2020 Statement from the National Public Health Emergency Team 26 June 2020: https://www.gov.ie/en/press-release/93d1b-statement-from-the-national-public-health-emergency-team-friday-26-june/ Note:*: Wordometer uses the “narrower” (death in hospital/COVID positive test) for the UK and it is assumed this is the case for the other countries. Because of this we used the same, narrower definition for both NI and the RoI (rather than the broader “COVID-related” definition used in Table 1 above.
    Producer/AuthorEsmond Birnie
    PersonsEsmond Birnie

Keywords

  • Northern Ireland economy, political impact on economy, devolution, devolved policies, economic policy, economic growth, UK growth
  • COVID-19
  • COVID-19 response
  • Mortality rates
  • Population density