Why I Spoke Out [Updated]

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This morning.

Today with Claire Byrne on RTÉ Radio One.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar (above) was asked about Dr Martin Feeley’s article in today’s Irish Times (see below) and if he thought there was “anything in that”.

Dr Feeley’s opinion piece included the following:

Common sense might dictate that we expose the low-risk population to this condition and protect the at-risk, i.e, the red rag of “herd immunity”. That is what was happening and yet the policy seems to be to prevent this happening. This should particularly have been allowed to happen during the summer months before the “flu season” and thus reduce the workload on the health services during winter months.

…The at-risk can be protected by themselves and others adhering to proven protective measures…The young and healthy majority need to be allowed to live rather than exist, while being mindful of those at risk.

Dr Feeley stood down from his position as clinical director of Dublin Midlands Hospital Group last week with immediate effect, after the HSE “dissociated itself from his remarks” that Covid-19 is “much less severe” than the flu for most people and that restrictions were no longer justified.

Mr Varadkar told Ms Byrne that he disagreed with Dr Feeley’s views on young people and Covid-19 but he also said he didn’t agree with dismissing experts with alternative views.

He said:

“I don’t agree with what he’s saying. But I never think we should dismiss alternative views or certainly views that come from people of expertise because this is a new virus, it’s only around nine months. There’s a lot we still have to learn about it.

“Ronan Glynn, the Acting Chief Medical Officer, always says that anyone who speaks with certainty on coronavirus is doing so out of confidence not out of knowledge because there is so much we have yet to know or learn about the virus.

“One thing to me is that it is not like the flu. It is much more infectious and is much more dangerous in terms of a higher mortality rate and we don’t have an effective treatment for it and we don’t have a vaccine for it. So I think comparisons to the flu are incorrect.”

Earlier….

Dr Martin Feeley

This morning.

Dr Martin Feeley, who was forced to resign from Dublin Midlands Hospital Group after criticising Ireland’s ‘Draconian’ response to the rona, has responded to the controversy.

Via The Irish Times:

In view of recent controversies caused by an article in The Irish Times on Saturday, September 12, I think it is important to articulate my position on the present Covid crisis and its management, and to comment also on more recent developments

How lethal is Covid-19?

Up to August 10th, the number of Europeans who died from a Covid-19 illness (182,639) was slightly above the number who died three years ago as a result of “flu” (152,000). The number of patients who died in Europe from the 1917/18 Spanish flu was approximately 2.64 million – this would be equivalent to approximately 7.4 million deaths of today’s European population.

It is not for want of good reason that deaths are now referred to as Covid-19-associated deaths. Of 5,700 patients admitted to New York hospitals, 88 per cent had more than one underlying condition (co-morbidity) and the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention reported that from January to May, 19.5 per cent of Covid-19 patients with co-morbidity died compared to 1.6 per cent with no other illness.

The Irish experience is very similar – up to mid-August 94 per cent of deaths were in patients with underlying medical conditions. A Stanford-led group analysed over 100,000 Covid-19-related deaths in Europe, including Ireland, and the US and concluded that “deaths for people under 65 without predisposing conditions were remarkably uncommon”.

Another important feature is the number of people who contract the virus and remain completely asymptomatic. In extremely well-defined scenarios such as the Diamond Princess cruise liner and the Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier almost 66 per cent of the positive tests were completely asymptomatic, while a report from China suggests 78 per cent of cases were asymptomatic

Who is at risk?

For most respiratory diseases, such as the common cold and influenza, children are the primary carriers. However, this does not appear to be the case with the Corona viruses which caused SARS in 2003 and Covid-19. Six weeks after opening schools in Denmark there was no evidence of a spike in cases. A University of Southampton review found no reported incident of pupil-to-teacher transmission.

While children are at negligible risk if healthy and not obese, conversely the individuals at the opposite end of the age spectrum are at greatest risk. The case mortality rate regardless of co-morbidities at 60 years is about 1 per cent, at 70 years about 2 per cent, and increases dramatically to above 15 per cent in individuals over 80 years.

The presence of a chronic illness is the all-important factor in determining the risk even in the elderly; up to mid-September approximately 6,000 nursing home residents had tested positive for Covid-19 and 83 per cent recovered. Diseases of the cardiovascular and respiratory systems are high risk; as is diabetes mellitus, although distinguishing its risk from the obesity risk is difficult.

The best kept secret regarding Covid-19 is the vulnerability of overweight individuals. For reasons unknown this is not publicised to the degree required. Unfortunately this lack of awareness is exacerbated, if not caused, by HSE-published data on risk factors. In its definition of obesity the HSE uses a body mass index (BMI) of 40 whereas most international literature uses a BMI of 30.

Dr Martin Feeley: Young and healthy majority need to be allowed to live (Irish Times)

Previously: That’ll Learn Him

31 thoughts on “Why I Spoke Out [Updated]

  1. Bob

    “NPHET rule out herd immunity saying ‘apartheid’ against older people not acceptable”

    When your wrong and can’t admit it or back down or compromise then you stick to your way with an iron will backed up with anything you can think of to discredit those who seek the truth.

      1. Bob

        If he could pop up and down into thin air he could make a cool Fenella The Witch from the ‘Chorlton And The Wheelies’ TV show.

  2. Gabby

    Whether or not we agree with the Doctor’s analysis, it is based on his sincere observations. It is right that dissenting medically experienced people should articulate their views. Better than having the matter ‘discussed’ by loud street crowds.

  3. Ragamuffin

    “How lethal is Covid-19? Up to August 10th, the number of Europeans who died from a Covid-19 illness (182,639) was slightly above the number who died three years ago as a result of “flu” (152,000).” He’s hardly comparing like with like. Pretty much no societal changes were made in 2017 for flu, whereas this year Europe has made vast changes to every aspect of life in order to reduce the spread of a more lethal and infectious virus. To say they are more or less the same because when we look back there’s a similar death toll is disingenuous. We (thankfully) don’t know what the death toll for covid 19 would have been in Europe if no action had been taken, so we can’t compare the numbers in this way.

    1. Bob

      They had the advantage of herd immunity in those early pandemics. So they had huge deaths quickly which then subsided whereas at this time we will have lower deaths per month but over a longer period of time.

      Flattening the curve was not reducing deaths. Just spacing them out so the hospitals were not overrun.

  4. R.F.

    The question to be asked re the “co-morbidity” cases is this: “would they have died when they died if they didn’t have Covid?”

    I bet in the vast majority of cases the answer is no.

    Also worth remembering that “underlying conditions” are widespread in the population, be it high blood pressure or obesity. Do we just give up on those people? Because every family has those people.

    1. Bob

      I agree. Covid pushed them towards their deaths.

      So what price a life?

      The Australian Gov calculate a cost of $200k per year for ten years to enable their elderly population not to surcumb to a covid death by maintaining lockdowns and other medical interventions. They state that historically for any drug/action treatment plan that figure of money would never be spent for any illness for that demographic of patient and that hence they would be let die.

    2. f_lawless

      In August George Lee was speculating that ‘up to half of those whose deaths were either “confirmed, probably or possibly” caused by Covid-19 during the first five months of the pandemic could have been likely to pass away from other causes during that period but that Covid-19 hastened their passing.’. This is because the excess all-cause mortality for that period was estimated to be between 850-900 which is substantially lower than the official Covid total of 1,763.

      https://www.rte.ie/news/ireland/2020/0828/1161895-excess-mortality-figures/

    3. Barry the Hatchet

      Is the point about underlying conditions perhaps that these people are easy to identify and therefore targeted measures can be designed to protect them, rather than blanket measures which affect the entire population?

      I do agree though that the manner in which some commentators have talked about those with underlying conditions as being “at death’s door anyway” has been both sickening and mind-numbingly stupid.

  5. george

    People who fixate only on the death rate should listen back to interview with a chap called Ron on Claire Byrne this morning. He can no longer walk for 20mins despite having got covid-19 6months ago and “recovered”. He has serious fatigue and can’t work, sores on his scalp and legs, lung problems etc. Sounded like a shell of a man and said he’d have to go asleep for a few hours after the interview.

          1. Nigel

            If it was just that I reckon we could split the difference, but a lot of them claim that masks are a clear and present danger to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

          1. SOQ

            Big news breaking in Australia about the massive rise in suicides I believe. But sure they don’t matter- as long as it was not from CoVid-19 then everything is just fine.

          2. Cian

            Is it?

            In Australia in 2018, preliminary data showed a total of 3,046 deaths by suicide. [https://lifeinmind.org.au/about-suicide/suicide-data/suicide-facts-and-stats]

            Radio host Gus Worland said: “There’s been over 1,200 suicides since March compared to just over 200 deaths with the virus.”

            If these numbers are correct:
            There have been more suicides than Covid-linked deaths this year – true.
            There has been a massive rise in suicides in Australia – not true.

    1. Barry the Hatchet

      I have heard of a quite few people like this (all anecdotal evidence to be fair) who were never admitted to hospital but who are really struggling with fatigue and breathing problems months after “recovering”. It seems that they are being left on their own to deal with the after effects without any support from the health service, which is really dreadful.

      1. Lilly

        Because GPs haven’t a clue what they’re dealing with, and rather than admit it, they’re pawning them off.

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