More than 6.100 excess deaths were identified in 2022 by the Ricardo Jorge Institute, which recorded four peaks in excess mortality, coinciding with two waves of covid-19 and periods of high temperatures or extreme cold.
The 2022 Mortality Monitoring report, prepared by the National Institute of Health Doctor Ricardo Jorge (INSA) and released today, covered the period between January 3 last year and January 1 this year and recorded a total of 124.602 deaths in Portugal . For the third consecutive year, the barrier of 124 deaths was exceeded.
The INSA study points to 6.135 excess deaths, with four periods of excess mortality, and the one with the highest number of excess deaths recorded (2.401) coincided with periods of extreme heat, identified by the ÍCARO surveillance system.
The periods of excess deaths identified by the INSA occurred between January 17th and February 6th, from May 23rd to June 19th, from July 4th to August 7th and between November 28th and December 18th.
In the first case (January 17 to February 6), the INSA points to an excess of 891 deaths (+12% compared to expected), temporally coinciding with a wave of covid-19 and a period of low temperatures, identified by the FRIESA surveillance as “period of extreme cold with probable effect on mortality”.
The second period of excess mortality was identified between May 23 and June 19, with 1.744 more deaths than expected (+21%) and temporally coincides with a wave of covid-19 and a period of “abnormally high” temperatures for the time of year”.
Between July 4th and August 07th, the highest of last year's excess mortality peaks was recorded, with 2.401 more deaths than expected (25% excess). In this case, INSA states that it coincided with periods of extreme heat identified by the ÍCARO surveillance system.
The last of the four periods of excess mortality was identified between November 28 and December 18, with 1.099 more deaths than would be expected for this time of year (15% excess) and coincided with the flu epidemic period, which in the autumn-winter of 2022/23 “it occurred earlier than in previous years”, says the document.
INSA specialists also underline that the impacts due to the flu and covid-19 “will have been lower than that observed in other winters”, although the impacts observed in the summer were higher than those observed in previous years – “although within expectations for the magnitude and duration of recorded heat periods”.
INSA reports that periods of excess mortality were observed in all regions, although with different duration and magnitude.
The North region was the one in which the highest number of weeks of excess mortality was identified (18), distributed over four periods.
Taking into account the temporal coincidence, INSA concludes that most of the periods of excess mortality identified both at national and regional level were potentially associated with phenomena known to be able to have an impact on mortality, namely flu epidemics and covid-19 and periods of extreme heat and cold.