A Peak Behind The Curtain


From top: Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan at a Covid-19 press briefing on April 7; New graph of daily deaths ‘related to Covid-19’

This morning/afternoon.

A new graph produced by Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan suggests that daily deaths associated with Covid-19 may have peaked in Ireland on Tuesday, April 7.

RTÉ’s George Lee reports:

This new analysis paints a very different picture to that suggested by the figures published to date.

It shows that daily deaths actually peaked ten days ago on 7 April at 39 deaths, although the reported total that day was 36.

It also reveals that broadly for three weeks before 10 April, the daily reported death toll under-represented the reality of how many people really died each day. But in the past week, the daily reported total has been over-representing the actual number of deaths that occurred – some days by quite a lot.

The number of deaths officially reported for Friday 17 April is 44, the highest yet. But in reality, only 20 of those deaths actually occurred on Friday. The rest could properly have been allocated to earlier dates.

The graph showed that in reality the number of daily deaths from Covid-19 in Ireland has halved since peaking ten days ago.


…on April 7.

Paul Cullen, in The Irish Times, reported that, according to modelling data in the US, Ireland had passed its peak of Covid-19 infections.

Mr Cullen reported:

“Peak resource use of hospital and intensive care unit (ICU) beds here passed on April 4th, while peak deaths passed on April 6th, according to the data published by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), which is based at the University of Washington in the US.”

Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan was asked about this study at the Department of Health’s nightly press briefing and rejected it, saying:

“It simply isn’t true. It’s not reliable…that’s not something that people should either listen to or rely upon”


At the April 7 press briefing were, from left: chair of Covid-19 advisory group Dr Cillian De Gascun; Chief Clinical Officer HSE Dr Colm Henry; Chief Medical Officer Department of Health Dr Tony Holohan and Deputy Chief Medical Officer Department of Health Dr Ronan Glynn

…during the same press conference (go to 27.19), Mr Cullen and Dr Holohan had this exchange about Covid-19 and its “peak” in Ireland.

Paul Cullen: “I hear your criticisms of that US modelling but at least they did produce a model. Nature abhors a vacuum. You’ve waited a long time to come out with the results of your own model. We did have a leaked number at the very start, of the number of people who might get the disease [15,000 by the end of March] at the very start of this crisis. We haven’t heard anything yet.

“So, I mean these exercises have their limitations but people are looking for a route map?”

Tony Holohan: “Sure, so just a couple of things on that. So the figure that was mentioned at the beginning wasn’t so much a leak as a projection that we would be at, which was correct, if we continued to grow at 33%, from the number of cases that we had at the point in time that number was identified. We would have gotten to 15,000 by the end of the month.

“The reason we didn’t get there was because we managed to flatten the curve as a society and we did that through the various measures that were introduced and what we were clear about was that with the modelling work that we’re doing, and it’s being led as Dr Glynn has said, by Philip Nolan and a team of 50 mathematicians across the academic and university sector, it’s a huge enterprise of activity.

“And the reason we haven’t given a forward projection from that is because we don’t believe that we’ve seen the point, and I said this clearly last week on a couple of occasions, the stability, if you like, in the model, to allow us to project forward. In other words, we’re continuing to see improvement in the reduction in the growth of this epidemic.

“So at the beginning, that figure of 15,000 came off a projected growth, day-on-day, of 33%. And that has been reduced steadily and it’s, we believe, still continuing to fall.

“And the further it falls, the further into the future will come the point of peak and the lower that peak will be.

“And we want to reduce that as much as we possibly can. And we think that it will take, you know, at least, tomorrow, and the next…in other words, the further we go into this week, to give that projection, the more stable and certain that projection is.

“And that’s the reason that we could have given you a forward projection two or three weeks ago. But the confidence limits of that, in other words, the variation, or the margin of error, as you might call it, would have been so great as to make that uninterpretable or useless information for the point of view of our action. And that’s why I think, correctly, we’ve waited until we had a good model, which we believe that we have.

“And an ability to see the full effect of the measures that are in place which is at least ten days post the last set of measures being put in place to start to make any forward projections which we will give you on Thursday of this week.”

Meanwhile, separately…

Also on April 7, the Minister for Health Simon Harris signed the regulations which gave gardaí the power to enforce Covid-19 restrictions.

New graph shows deaths from Covid-19 peaked 10 days ago (RTÉ)


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40 thoughts on “A Peak Behind The Curtain

    1. Donnchadh

      Are numbers being adjusted, or is this just the difference between deaths reported on a given day and deaths which occurred on that day? The same thing has bee n happening in the UK.

  1. Frank

    watching George Lee on the RTE news last night was a masterclass in statistical doublespeak. broadsheet should put a link to it and to his irish times article today. a right riveting read!
    from the start of this the HSE has shifted the goalposts and built Potemkin villages. this is more of the same.
    its gross mismanagement but why on earth would you expect anything less?

    back to work ye go…. oh… (makes application for indentured service with Keelings)

  2. Matt Pilates

    You might as well guess the daily figures as rely on these guys – what’ll it be today – 41 @ median age 84. OK? – Sure we can fix the real numbers later…

  3. Zaccone

    This is crazy stuff. How can the HSE get such very basic stuff, that is clearly massively influencing government policy, so wrong?

  4. One username per commenter please

    Lads is it PR folks who advise those in the public eye to never admit a mistake only as a last resort?
    This behavior just fuels the alternative media loony narrative, admit we didn’t want to take a risk so we were over cautious,most people will be ok with that but keep up the verbosity it will enrage average folks particularly when the Swedish figures come out, yesterday they were saying the uk were lying about figures,will we do that with the Swedes also? Grow up.

    Do they not understand the tension building economically speaking? these are the current covid statistics they will use to justify the debt and job losses, oh and a police state and 2 gents wanting to be Taoiseach who would be better to step aside and leave a someone with a stronger vote count in,please tell me they will do this at least for Taoiseach?

    50 mathematicians were involved with projection? What class were they in 2nd or 3rd?

    1. some old queen

      I’m an old school queen, especially when it come to AI- predictive models are only as good as the data provided.

      If there is a lesson to be learned it is that nothing beats human instinct so was/is trump wrong? Time will tell.

      1. J Dizzle

        I’m confused, they aren’t padding the numbers. They are reporting the deaths that they were informed of that day. When the deaths are put into a graph of the exact day the person died we can see when the peak was. Is this not reasonable?

        Also, people saying we over reacted? We are were we are because we took the drastic steps of shutting down the economy. The UK delayed and their figures are through the roof, same with the USA. Am I missing something?

        1. Frank

          yeah you’re missing something.
          from the get go they have made a hames of the testing, thus making a nonsense of all other figures. This is not to mention the Potemkin villages! the Keeling debacle, preferred testing for celebrities.
          perhaps the only certainty we had was the number of deaths due to covid19 and low and behold… those figures are also malleable.

          the HSE a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.

          1. J Dizzle

            Not sure what the attitude is towards me? I’m merely asking a question. The testing wasn’t great, but then again the world were bidding for these tests. The death figure is the same number, but broken down into the day of death? Is this a tin foil hat job?

          2. J Dizzle

            Listen, Ive no issue if the HSE or the Government are called to task on some issue they are pulling the wool over our eyes. This isn’t a time which I feel the government haven’t done a good job, we are reporting accurate death numbers by all accounts. To compare that to our closest neighbours, The UK are only counting those in hospitals. If you can point to me the exact thing you feel they are doing wrong, I’d appreciate it. I’m not derailing anything, I just would like to know the exact issues.

            I had one cousin on Facebook last night claiming this was all a conspiracy to what exactly, I have zero idea.

        2. Octo

          Go way with your logical fact-based analysis of how the real world works. The lads are having a rant and you’re interrupting their flow.

          1. edrof

            Your man Frank is 100% a tinfoil hat job. Anyone who uses the term “potemkin villages” more than once in a decade is someone who has just learned the phrase, and most likely from a nutjob conspiracy website.
            Especially when used without actually identifying the potemkin village to which he refers
            Armchair conspiracy theorist

          2. J Dizzle

            Why am I a troll for stating facts? You’re just another one of the Tin foil hat brigade looking for a story that isn’t there.

  5. Ger

    It’s not a scam

    Deprived of human rights based upon flawed or worse data.

    No end in sight

    A Tyranny of Experts

  6. D

    Somehow this was not pasted from the rte article, presumably an innocent oversight. Glad that he is back in action so quickly after the recent illness.

    Chief Medical Officer:
    “That could be just a delay in the notification of those deaths. We have to wait to understand this. There is always a time lag between incident numbers, admission to hospitals and then mortality.”

    The Chief Medical Officer also pointed out that people have three months to notify the authorities of a death and not all deaths are notified until the end of that period.

    – SO reading between the lines I guess that’s one way of saying this will go on for months and months.

  7. Niamh

    Wait…does this mean that American study saying our peak had passed, which the IT and others published but were then made to emphatically retract, was right or kind of right? Didn’t it put the peak at April 6th and turns out it was almost totally accurate? But we were all told the data was bad and to discount it?

    1. D

      No. It means the numbers won’t be in for a few months and a poor show is being made of turning a coincidence into a story.

  8. JEH

    Does anyone know what kind of traction the RTE story got or the chart?
    I noticed a ton more people out and about today and yesterday (even though the weather wasn’t great). I also noticed today that panhandlers returned to the city center which I have not seen in weeks. It makes me think the government has done some assessment and decided they’re not going to cover the cost of securing hotels and hostels of the homeless and transient. Seems like an odd decision to make all of a sudden if there isn’t new information available to them.
    It seems like the sense of urgency we had the last few weeks has eased this weekend, whether it’s warranted or not.

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