'Too early to understand Covid impact on excess deaths', say MSPs

MSPs heard that the impact of the pandemic was greater on people from deprived areas.

‘Too early to fully understand Covid-19 impact on excess deaths in Scotland’, say MSPs iStock
The report was published by MSPs on Holyrood's Covid-19 Recovery Committee.

It is still too early to fully understand the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on excess deaths in Scotland, according to MSPs.

In a new report, the Scottish Government has also been urged to improve its data collection so that a detailed analysis of the pandemic on excess deaths can be made in the years ahead.

According to figures by the National Records of Scotland, as of the week beginning January 24, 2020, there have been 11,817 excess deaths overall in 2020/2022.

Of those, 11,218 were either caused by Covid-19 or the virus was a contributory factor.

The document was produced by MSPs on the Scottish Parliament’s Covid-19 Recovery Committee.

It is part of an inquiry examining the extent to which excess deaths were caused by Covid-19 caseload or the indirect impacts of the pandemic.

MSPs in their report raised a number of issues in relation to data collection, monitoring and surveillance.

They concluded that short-term fluctuations in deaths and the complexity of separating deaths caused by the virus from those where Covid may have contributed or been coincidental, means that more time is needed to gauge the full impact of the pandemic on mortality in Scotland.

And the committee heard that the impact of the pandemic was greater on those from deprived areas, with this potentially having an impact on excess deaths in those areas.

Committee convener Siobhian Brown said that it is “critical” that steps are now taken so that a detailed analysis of excess deaths can be carried out.

“Our inquiry has highlighted the critical need for improved data collection by the Scottish Government if we are to fully understand the impact of the pandemic on excess deaths in Scotland,” she said.

“Although it is too early to analyse the full extent of the pandemic on excess deaths at this point, and we recognise the complexity of this work, it is critical that steps are taken now so that a thorough and detailed analysis of the pandemic’s impact on excess deaths can be made in years to come. 

“We are very aware that the statistics provided to us during the inquiry are not abstract numbers. Each of these represent the end of life for real people, and we are very cognisant of that.”

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