Which Do You Choose, A Hard Or Soft Option?

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From top: Dr Johan Giesecke; Michael McNamara TD

This morning/afternoon.

Oireachtas Special Covid-19 Response Committee meeting.

Further to testimony from Dr Johan Giesecke, former chief epidemiologist in Sweden…

….Dr Giesecke was asked what a “soft lockdown” would entail compared to a hard lockdown.

He said:

“There’s no law telling people to stay at home and the police will not pick you up on the street when you shouldn’t be on the street. It is telling people what they should do with distancing, with handwashing, with staying home and so on, self-isolation if you feel sick.

“And you can actually estimate that the number of, in March, mid-March, when the Government introduced these measures, you could calculate that the number of potentially infectious contacts between people in Sweden dropped by 70%, just voluntary, no law.

People did what they were asked to do and they have continued, one thing that’s good with the Swedish strategy is that we haven’t changed anything for the six months whereas other countries are going in and out of lockdowns and restrictions, and which countries you can fly to and which countries you can not fly to.”

Asked how would Covid-19 be allowed to circulate among under-60s yet prevent its transmission to people over-60 and in care homes, Dr Giesecke said:

“Like Professor [Kirsten] Schafer [President of the Irish Society of Clinical Microbiology] said, there is no 100 per cent way to do that but there is a lot you can do to minimise the risk of introduction of the virus in care homes. Over.”

Later…

….Chair of the committee and Independent TD Michael McNamara asked Dr Giesecke if he agreed with the assertion that immunity levels in Sweden are currently no greater than other European states – despite Sweden allowing the virus to circulate more than those states.

Dr Giesecke replied:

“No, I think immunity levels are higher in countries where you had circulation.”

Asked about the efficacy of mask-wearing in all public settings, Dr Giesecke said that he agreed with Dr Tomás Ryan of the School of Biochemistry and Immunology at Trinity College Dublin that social distancing is more important than masks (Dr Ryan also said Ireland should have greater levels of mask wearing, and that mask wearing in all indoor environments should be promoted).

Dr Giesecke then had this exchange with Mr McNamara.

Michael McNamara: “Are masks compulsory in Sweden?”

Dr Giesecke: “No.”

McNamara: “Are they worn generally in schools?”

Dr Giesecke: “No.”

McNamara: “But do you think it would be beneficial if they were worn more?”

Dr Giesecke: “I think the scientific evidence to support mask wearing are very thin.”

Finally, each speaker was offered the chance to give their final thoughts to the committee about responding to Covid-19. Dr Giesecke said:

“Two things. Watch out for undemocratic decisions that are using emergency legislation in the case where it may not be needed. That’s number one. Number two is this will be with us for a long time. We will have to learn to live with this virus. Unless a very good vaccine comes out before Easter which I doubt. Thanks for inviting me.”

Earlier: Herdy Gurdy

44 thoughts on “Which Do You Choose, A Hard Or Soft Option?

  1. E'Matty

    This will have the fearmongers and curtain twitchers losing their minds! “Listen to the experts” they cry, except they’ll do their best to try and dismiss these experts who are not pushing the hysteria and fear line.

    In time, it is going to be those who rightly saw the threat from Covid as minimal and mostly confined to those already on their death beds, who said that the vulnerable over 65s should have been properly protected (they weren’t at all, as proven by 80% of deaths being in nursing homes) and that the rest of us return to normal and use the economic output to provide for the vulnerable, who will be proven correct.

    FF/FG/Greens and the mindless voice of authority following herd have destroyed thousands of livelihoods, decimated industries and sent how many to an early grave through delayed cancer, heart disease, neuro disease diagnosis, suicides etc.. and God knows what deprivation and poverty we will now see in Irish society. It’s pretty revolting how these people can be so myopic in their view of this issue to the detriment of all else in society.

    End the lockdown nonsense, get everyone back to work and school, properly protect the elderly and vulnerable and let’s get on with rebuilding the economy and society, and try undo some of the criminal damage wrought on this country by inept morons for the past 8 months.

    1. SOQ

      +1.

      The problem is, there will be a lot of eggy faces and they will never admit that they got it so badly wrong.

      A health minister, management of the HSE and NPHET refusing to appear before the Dáil Covid committee is where we are currently at- refusing to account for their actions- no one is that busy.

    2. Just Sayin

      Matty we’ve been rightly fupped over by FFFGGP, best strategy to deal with them is to never vote for any of those parties ever again. Punishing them for one election (which they’re fully expecting anyway) simply isn’t enough.

  2. Just Sayin

    I watched the whole session (perk of not having a job anymore) our muppets still arguing for ‘zero covid island’ strategy, presuming the UK would go along with restricting travel between UK & NI on our say so.

  3. GiggidyGoo

    Strange….. none of the usual suspects out of the traps telling us that this particular epidemiologist shouldn’t be listened to and should be hung, drawn and quartered.
    An article like this would usually have 40+ posts by now.

    1. Micko

      Well,

      after chief RTE scaremonger Dr Tomas Ryan was told that he pretty much didn’t know what he was talking about on last nights Primetime by Oxford epidemiologist Sunetra Gupta – an actual expert in a relevant field.

      and

      The fact that the interview after that, discussed that PCR tests are pretty much pants and need to be replaced

      …I think the wind may have gone out of their sails. ;-)

      I actually was surprised it was on RTE.

      1. SOQ

        Miriam was hardly impartial though, I though she was quite rude to Sunetra- but yes, Ryan got his bottom handed to him.

        1. Micko

          She was, she tried to interrupt her three times at one point

          Sunetra did not relent – good woman herself ;-)

          Miriam, did give her the final word though in fairness.

          Twitter was hilarious as well, overwhelmingly supporting poor “Dr Ryan”

          It’s gas, after months of “are you an expert / doctor” name calling and when they finally get one of the most renowned epidemiologists in the UK, the lockdown lovers still aren’t happy. Calling her rude and ignorant and accusing her of being drunk.

          Muppets

    2. Richie

      Sweden continues to be held up as a shining light of how to live with covid. The argument today was to let the disease spread in a controlled manner while protecting the vulnerable. The only problem is that Sweden themselves have not done that, the death rate in Sweden (581/million) is higher than that in Ireland (362/million) or Germany/Denmark (110/million). In fact, Sweden has done about as well on this front as Italy (591/million) who had less time than anyone else to prepare for this. The UK, who were slow to act have done a little worse (615/million). So having a Swede preach to us about protecting the vulnerable seems a little rich.

      1. SOQ

        Sweden has three more times high risk people than Ireland so it should be no surprise they had three times the number of fatalities- although they do admit they could have managed that group better, like most other countries.

        1. Richie

          Do they also have 3 times more high risk people than Denmark, Germany, France, Slovakia, Slovenia, Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria… They have the 5th highest death rate of major European nations behind only Italy and Spain who were ravaged at the beginning of the pandemic and Belgium/UK and we are being told that their way is the best way forward. Please help me understand.

          1. SOQ

            My point is that per million means little if anything- you compare like with like.

            But even at that- if you go to https://www.euromomo.eu/graphs-and-maps/ then scroll down to Z-scores by country and remove all the countries which did not have an overall fatality spike- you will be left with

            Belgium
            Ireland
            Italy
            Netherlands
            Spain
            Sweden
            Switzerland
            UK

            The three highest countries were Belgium, Spain and England- all who had lock-downs and masks. And yet- Sweden is lower than all three?

            So this myth being perpetuated that Sweden has the highest overall fatality rate is wrong- it sits right in the middle of that list.

          2. PaddyM

            Yep, the appropriate comparison for Sweden is with its neighbours – Denmark, Norway, Finland – all of whom have similar demographics and similar societal behaviours.

            Hopefully, the second wave will be a lot less deadly than the first because the experience of which treatments work and which don’t work (or are actually counter-productive) in relation to COVID will have improved, but in the meantime Sweden has a couple of thousand extra dead people in comparison to its immediate neighbours and those people are not going to be resurrected.

          3. SOQ

            Point me to when there was a “second wave” before please?

            Anywhere in the world within the past 100 years is good.

        2. f_lawless

          This paper is worth a browse:
          https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3674138

          In 2019 Sweden had a very mild flu season and saw its lowest overall death toll in 40 years. This meant that coming in to 2020 there was a much larger susceptible portion of the population than usual. This phenomenon didn’t occur in the other Nordic countries. It was the single biggest factor which led the comparatively higher Covid-19 death rate in Sweden, according to the paper

          1. PaddyM

            Three GMU Economics Department (a well-known crank production line)/Austrian School think-tankers clutching at straws from what I can see.

          2. f_lawless

            Too much to expect you to engage in reasoned critical debate then PaddyM?

            In the space of 15 minutes or so since my comment you managed make a fair assessment of the points raised in the 25-page paper?

            “Crank” seems to be the new buzzword going around of late for people just looking to lash out.

      2. Johnnythree

        Ah Ritchie. The basics of figures elude you. Each country is different. We are not Sweden. We get that. But what other option do we have?
        Do you think if we go the ‘Sweden model’ it will be wanton carnage?
        Do you think we can evade death?

        1. Richie

          Of course each country is different, having different age demographics and health systems. The question is do the government want to proceed with a Swedish model knowing that it will result in more deaths in the short term. We can’t avoid death, but you can most certainly protect vulnerable people and limit the number of deaths. The question for the government is whether they will accept more deaths in the short term if they follow a Swedish model. If there is no vaccine in 2-3 years, then both models may end up in the same place. More restrictions buys time and keeps people alive until a vaccine happens (if it happens).

  4. Eoin

    Just checking out this story being reported on The Journal. Almost every comment is against this mans advice. Amazing.

    1. GiggidyGoo

      Of course it is!. The Journal is heavily edited / moderated. Blue Hugh used to be there, and nothing has changed. And the laughable thing about it is their little blue box looking for money to pay for it.

  5. Cian

    “Dr” Johan Giesecke is a sham and a fraud.

    Ivor Cummins said that Sweden didn’t have a lockdown, so this fellow must be a shill.

    1. SOQ

      Depends how you define a lock down but keeping schools, pubs and restaurants open without stupid restrictions on where people can go sounds pretty soft to me.

    2. GiggidyGoo

      Usually, Cian, you’d accompany such an accusation against a person such as Giesecke (epidemiologist by the way) with some sort of back-up. This time you’ve relegated yourself to Rob_G’s level of post.

  6. Lurch

    Swedish society is not comparable to Irish society.
    While Dubs walk straight out infront of buses and shoot the driver the evils, at the same time in Stockholm there are Swedes patiently waiting for a green pedestrian light when all the traffic has long since passed.
    They are a compliant people while we’re a nation of chancers.
    Fair play to them on their success but that strategy would not have had the same results here.

    1. SOQ

      If that is the case then please explain why in the two weeks coming up to out own, traffic and even shop foot fall was way down?

  7. phil

    I thought he was interesting until his final statement , the statement ‘Watch out for undemocratic decisions’ , Why would a Swedish epidemiologist get involved in political stuff? Got a twinge of suspicion and I felt it undermined what he was saying earlier…

    1. Chuckenstein

      At the same time, he was unfairly pressed by Boucher-Hayes earlier about the consequences for employment and statutory sick leave…..something that got his back up as it is not his field. He clearly had had enough of the sidetrack at the end of the piece.

  8. Johnnythree

    @Richie:
    ‘want to proceed with a Swedish model knowing that it will result in more deaths in the short term”

    Will it? What makes you think that? Do you not see the lower deaths in this season? Do you not think all the vulnerable are mostly protected or dead?

    ‘We can’t avoid death, but you can most certainly protect vulnerable people and limit the number of deaths”

    Agreed. We know what to do. We didn’t do it in March so lets do it now.

    ‘The question for the government is whether they will accept more deaths in the short term if they follow a Swedish model’
    No theres no proof that that will happen. Besides what about the costs of locking, unlocking areas all the time? Why should we? Just for the elderly? Why should we close down our lives for one section of the community? We have to get working again. What about mental health?

    ‘If there is no vaccine in 2-3 years, then both models may end up in the same place’
    Not really. We know Social distancing is more important than masks. We know that we need to change some behaviours. Our issue now is testing is not up to speed, tracing is not up top speed or effective, there is widespread revulsion at the Govt handling of this and we won’t take another lockdown. The Govt played all their cards – badly. Finally – will everyone have a vaccine? I won’t.

    ‘More restrictions buys time and keeps people alive until a vaccine happens (if it happens)’
    More restriction buys more economic pain and mental anguish in addition to political instability. Maybe no vaccine – what then? Lockdown hysterically when figures reach a certain number? Right now I’m not concerned by figures or lockdown. I think a lot of tests are false positives – 5% maybe. That’s huge.

    Finally you should look at overall deaths for Sweden vs other countries not just Covid because flu has an interplay here and skews figures.

    1. Daisy Chainsaw

      Sweden’s excessive death toll is now being excused because of flu? But if flu is killing more people, does that make it “just like covid”? I don’t get this desperate need for anti maskers to kill off swathes of the population just so they can get to the pub.

      1. Johnnythree

        No. It’s not being ‘excused’. It is being placed in context of overall deaths. Do you understand the consequences or low flu seasons and Covid?
        There’s no desperate need for any killing off anyone (swathes? Maybe not)

  9. Alexander the Great

    Every day in here it is getting more and more manic and several people exhibiting advanced signs of mental illness

  10. George

    “There’s no law telling people to stay at home and the police will not pick you up on the street when you shouldn’t be on the street. It is telling people what they should do with distancing, with handwashing, with staying home and so on, self-isolation if you feel sick.”

    If that’s a soft lockdown then we have one in Ireland.

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