Tag Archives: NPHET

 Grand Canal at Portobello Harbour, Dublin 8 last night

This morning.

Via former Minister for Justice Michael McDowell In The Irish Times [full article at link below]:

…We do know that the health establishment is constantly conducting rolling public opinion surveys, and that helpful parts of that research are fed out to the media from time to time. We are all being monitored carefully.

And you don’t have to be Prof Dolores Cahill to feel a little uneasy about that. The public mood is not merely monitored; it is to some extent created.

Media advertisements “brought to you by the Government of Ireland” or by State-funded or State-owned agencies in support of solidarity serve twin purposes – they subsidise cash-starved (and sometimes unchallenging) media and they feed into public opinion to be surveyed, reported and fed into policymaking.

Our friend An Garda Síochána also plays a major part in mood creation. “Grim” was the adjective given to the Nphet’s current analysis in “off the record” briefings by the AGS. Can we see the grim analysis, please?

…The truth is that the dam of public patience has already cracked and broken. With longer evenings and warmer weather, younger generations have taken to the outdoors. Walks in the parks or down the Grand Canal or along the Dodder valley tell me their own tale. Reopening the schools and associated activity must be a driver of community transmission too. The virus doesn’t distinguish radically between 17-year-olds and 19-year-olds.

Community transmission is going to remain high until mass vaccination makes an impression. Seasonal aspects of the pandemic and of social behaviour are obvious and irresistible. You simply cannot drive the population back into their own houses for May and June. We have to plan accordingly…

The dam of public patience has already cracked and broken (Michael McDowell, Irish Times)

RollingNews

Last night: Portomello

Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health

This afternoon.

An open letter from Brendan Cody…

Thank you for your informative frequent press briefings reporting death-tolls and keeping the nation appraised of NPHET’s assessment of the pandemic situation. There are some questions I have however that do not seem to be asked by the media representatives admitted to those briefings. Perhaps you would be as informative in answering these.

Covid testing capacity was increased since the first lockdown, in the run up to this Winter. Capacity has grown approximately twice as much in non-hospital (private) labs than in hospital labs. The stated estimated cost of the testing last year was €450 million euro.

What commercial labs have been engaged to do this? What was the process for selecting those labs? What was the tender process (and was it similar to that required for other public service contracts)? What measures were taken to prevent conflict of interest with any member of NPHET during this process?

I note in your recent briefing that the current test capacity level is to be maintained, but will be redirected to double-testing of all close contacts. Does that imply that some previously reported cases may not have been accurately diagnosed Covid cases?

Does this relate to problems with using PCR testing for asymptomatic diagnosis? Under the new confirmatory testing protocol, how many previously reported cases would no longer now be considered positive Covid cases? Will the historic total case figure be adjusted to reflect this?

Have NPHET or the HSE mandated to test providers a requirement for the cycle threshold to be used in PCR tests? If so, what CT is used? Has it remained constant over the last year? If not, what CT was used/requested at the various stages during the pandemic?

Was any consideration given at any stage to apportioning instead some of the (borrowed) public money allocated for testing into the provision and staffing of critical care capacity in hospitals for this past winter season surge (that would perhaps remain available as on-going hospital care capacity for this and subsequent years)?

Of the deaths with Covid reported these last weeks, how many were contracted in a hospital environment? How many were contracted in a care home or institutional environment? Of the latter, how many of those had received their initial vaccination?

What practice will the HSE employ to monitor phase 4 trial follow-up on each vaccination, and how frequently will the public be briefed on those figures, and what informative metrics (other than the current total vaccinations) will be given about them?

I’m sure you or one of the 30 members of NPHET keep appraised of all recent Covid research, to keep best informed of any possible intervention or measures that can be made to achieve the oft-stated goal of limiting deaths and reducing pressure on the health services. NPHET are therefore aware, I’m also sure, of the growing research last year surrounding the link between Vitamin D3 deficiency and poor Covid outcomes.

NPHET, of course, were aware of the results of the Cordoba clinical trial, and very successful outcomes from the widespread distribution of D3 to care home residents and the elderly last November in Andalucia province in Spain, reducing hospitalisations and deaths there by over a half.

Given that the outcomes of that initiative dramatically met your stated goal of reducing deaths and hospital admissions of Covid cases, why was such an initiative not carried out in Ireland, especially when there were no vaccines yet available to the elderly and care home residents? Could the modelling expertise of NPHET be utilised to calculate how many unnecessary deaths occurred in Ireland as a result of not following the same initiative?

With it now becoming evident that mutations of the virus this year are likely to render existing vaccines less effective, will NPHET now be recommending a similar campaign of D3 supplementation for the elderly next winter, to prevent deaths? Will the HSE be adding to their media advertising campaigns this year information about the importance of vitamin D3 supplements against coronaviruses (a curious omission from last year’s winter health care booklet distributed to every household)?

Or will the Department of Health be waiting to see instead if pharmaceutical companies provide updated vaccines, and would it therefore be recommending another round of expensive vaccines next year, to achieve a similar limited-timeframe population-wide immunity again?

How many deaths have been prevented by the “lockdown” leveled restrictions throughout 2020? Can you provide statistical evidence for such a figure? (What Infection Fatality Rate, broken down across age groups, are you now assuming?) How many premature deaths were caused by those restrictions in 2020, and will continue to be caused by restrictions going forward? How many other non-Covid “long” health and mental conditions were initiated by the protracted lockdown restrictions?

Are NPHET gathering statistics for (or perhaps modelling) that also? When one of those sets of figures outweighs the other, I presume NPHET will be recommending an immediate switch in strategy, to best reflect and support the needs of public health?

When (and how) are blanket restrictions and the financially, socially, medically, educationally, and psychologically expensive measures to be phased out? What metrics will NPHET be using to determine when the temporary emergency coronavirus-related civil restrictions conceived last March will be removed (and the concomitant penal health legislation expired)? What level of asymptomatic positive test cases, hospital admissions with, or deaths from coronavirus will be sufficiently low for that to happen? Zero?

If economic contraction, revenue intake reduction, and increased national debt interest bills in future years necessitate a reduction in available budget for healthcare, what level of budgetary contraction could the HSE/Department of Health withstand and still be able to staff NPHET and continue the excellent public health advice that has kept us all so safe from calamity this last year?

Perhaps you would consider these questions and factor the answers into your regular press briefings. I and the nation would be very eager to know those urgent answers, to decide where we go from here.

Yours sincerely,

Brendan Cody

RollingNews

HSE CEO Paul Reid at Dr Steevens’ Hospital for the weekly HSE operational update on the response to Covid-19.

This afternoon.

Dr Steevens’ Hospital, Dublin.

Meanwhile…

NPHET has told the Government that it will become increasingly difficult to maintain the level of suppression of Covid-19 that has been achieved since the New Year.

Dr Tony Holohan advised the Minister for Health that NPHET expects a large number of additional deaths from the virus in the coming weeks.

In its letter to Stephen Donnelly on 21 January, NPHET said the country remains in a very vulnerable position despite great progress in recent weeks.

It warned that “we will all find it challenging to maintain the very low levels of social contact and adherence to social distancing and hygiene measures required to maintain suppression“.

NPHET concerns over maintaining level of virus suppression (RTÉ)

RollingNews

 

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar

This afternoon.

The Tánaiste said the Government’s new mandatory requirement of a PCR test is being met with a very high degree of compliance and fines are being issued for those who breach the rules.

He said the three main reasons for opposing mandatory quarantine were that it is “disproportionate”, because positive Covid-19 cases within the State were not quarantined; the EU’s stringent rules on the freedom of movement; and the fact that Ireland cannot control its border, ie with Northern Ireland, in the same way that other island states can…

Meanwhile…

Fight!

Meanwhile…

Oh.

RollingNews

Professor Philip Nolan, Chair of NPHET Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group (IEMAG)

This morning.

RTÉ Radio One’s Morning Ireland.

NPHET believes even the severe measures coming into effect today and just after Christmas will ‘not be enough to bring the reproduction number down as low as it needs to go’.

Via RTÉ News:

The chair of NPHET’s Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group, said “we are in a surge” and the virus is spreading rapidly.

Professor Philip Nolan said he does not think the measures being introduced from today will be enough to bring the virus under control and this time it is coming “really fast and really hard” and the next few days will determine what happens in January.

He urged people to keep numbers to a minimum and not to spend too much time together as it is long gatherings in indoor settings where control of the virus is lost.

Prof Nolan said if people have been out and about a great deal recently they should stay away from loved ones who may be vulnerable.

Minister who tested positive for Covid after shopping trip ‘followed all rules’ (Independent.ie)

Sam Boal/RollingNews

Meanwhile…

Turn that frown upside down.

FIGHT!

Public House ad agency

Irish-made stocking fillers to broadsheet@broadsheet.ie marked ‘Irish-Made Stocking Fillers’

Thanks Alan Bracken

Earlier…


Taoiseach Micheál Martin at Government Buildings tonight where he addressed the nation on exiting from Level 5

Tonight.

Earlier….

Earlier…

From top: Simon Harris, Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science; Stephen Donnelly, Minister for Health

This afternoon.

Government Buildings, Dublin 2.

Cabinet Ministers arrive for a meeting where it is expected they will confirm the lifting of Level 5 and the re-opening of all shops and gyms from next Tuesday, against NPHET advice.

Earlier: Life, Gym

Meanwhile…

This afternoon.

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee arrives for cabinet amid a continuing storm over Séamus Woulfe’s Supreme Court appointment.

Earlier:  Howlin Woulfe

RollingNews

From top: Doctor Owen O Flynn discusses his experience with Covid-19 watched by Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health at a briefing last week; Senator Michael McDowell

This morning.

Independent Senator Michael McDowell in the Irish Times has called for public access to NPHET’s data, “raw or distilled” and its briefing or advice so its decisions can be “understood and evaluated”.

He writes:

If decisions are to be taken by the Government on the basis of Nphet data, modelling, projections and advice, is there any case for one comma of it to be kept secret? Is there any justification for according Nphet the function of sole State advocate or editor or interpreter of unseen data or propagator of secret proposals?

With Nphet allies being granted access to the airwaves to predict 20,000 or 30,000 deaths as has recently happened, surely we are entitled to know exactly what scenarios were painted by Nphet for the Government’s consideration – and in minute detail?

We know that some of their advice around nursing homes has been wrong in the past. Likewise, we know that they have flip-flopped dramatically on the safety and utility of mask-wearing.

Exactly what were the proportions of the projected crisis that they outlined to the Government which persuaded Ministers including the sceptical Leo Varadkar to “come on board” the Nphet agenda?

Senator McDowell added:

On September 3rd, RTÉ broadcast an item about an unfortunate young doctor who contracted Covid at the age of 23. The nation was informed in detail of the very serious effects and the dangers he encountered during his treatment.

A month later, the same young doctor was presented by Nphet at its daily press conference to repeat his sorry tale. That demonstrates that Nphet does not consider itself to be a purely advisory body to the Government, but also accords itself an advocacy role.

Michael McDowell: What exactly is the price of accepting this Nphet advice? (Irish Times)

Previously: Doogie O’Howser

RollingNews

This morning.

An open letter to the Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly from a group of doctors declaring no confidence in NPHET and requesting immediate review and oversight, as well as consideration of an alternative strategy ‘that might help us navigate out of this crisis’.

Earlier: Derek Mooney: NPHET And Government Must Get Behind The One Mask

Previously: It’s A Small Club

Meanwhile…