12 sole cause COVID deaths shows huge comorbidity toll

Twelve patients died in hospital in the Western Trust where COVID-19 was the primary cause in the 15 month period from the start of the pandemic in March 2020 to June 2021.

The figure underlines the significance of comorbidity and how the virus has impacted older people and people living with underlying conditions.

A Freedom of Information release from WHSCT shows 12 patients died in hospital where ‘COVID-19 was identified as the primary cause of death, with no other factors identified in section 2 and 3 of the death certificate, between the period March 23, 2020 to June 23, 2021’.

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“Direct COVID-19 deaths include COVID-19; COVID-19 pneumonia; COVID-19 Pneumonitis; COVID-19 multiple organ failure; COVID-19 pneumonia with respiratory failure (confirmed),” the Western Trust stated.

The Department of Health’s statistics show 136 people had died with COVID-19 in Derry/Strabane alone by June 25, 2021. This excluded those parts of WHSCT which lie in Fermanagh and Omagh.

The NI Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) data for the same period show there were 197 deaths in Derry/Strabane from the start of the pandemic up to the week ending June 25 where COVID-19 was mentioned on the death certificate. The difference between the total COVID-19 toll and the number of deaths where the virus was listed as the sole cause of death shows the devastating impact the disease has had on more vulnerable cohorts.

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A 2020 peer-reviewed study on ‘Comorbidity and its Impact on Patients with COVID-19’ from the National Centre for Biotechnology Information concluded that older people and people with ‘underlying uncontrolled medical conditions such as diabetes; hypertension; lung, liver, and kidney disease; cancer patients on chemotherapy; smokers; transplant recipients; and patients taking steroids chronically are at increased risk of COVID-19 infection.’

“COVID-19 can cause severe disease leading to hospitalisation in ICU and potentially death, especially in the elderly with comorbidities,” the researchers found.