Doctors and scientists call for rethink of NPHET’s 'outdated' coronavirus strategy.


Michael Staines
Michael Staines

10.04 16 Nov 2020


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A group of leading doctors and medical professionals have signed a White Paper calling for a rethink of the NPHET’s “outdated” coronavirus strategy.

The paper warns that lockdowns come at an “enormous and disproportionate cost” and calls for a move towards reopening society with “intensive protection of the vulnerable.”

On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, UCD Professor of Infectious Diseases Jack Lambert Ireland said there are many experts outside of NPHET who are still not being listened to.

“NPHET have their role,” he said. “They are public health groups – but we need to actually make decisions not just with public health groups and modellers, there needs to be kind of, a multi-disciplinary group decision making team involved in all of this.

“It is not just a simple as COVID numbers. There is a whole strategy that needs to be put together about living with COVID.

“That deals with COVID but we also have to deal with non-COVID-related issues and that is what this White Paper is about.”

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He said Ireland is likely to be responding to COVID-19 for a number of years and it is now time to “take another look at the way we are structuring our COVID strategy moving forward.”

“The decisions have to be made with more than just public health modellers, epidemiologists and administrators who work for the Department of Health and the HSE,” he said.

“There are experts in Ireland. There are expert advisory groups who have expertise and at the present time, all of the experts in Ireland are not being listened to put together a COVID-prevention plan.

“NPHET is an emergency advisory group. It is made primarily up of HSE and Department of Health managers who have certain expertise.

“I think we need to bring on to that group additional expertise. So, I am not questioning their expertise. I am just saying that I don’t think all of the expertise in Ireland is being included.”

A healthcare worker looks at a patient with COVID-19 at an intensive care units (ICU), 06-10-2020. Image: AP Photo/Manu Fernandez

Professor Lambert said lockdown is just one of the issues facing the country – and called for clear strategies on things like increasing ICU capacity, border security, international travel, testing, tracing and vaccine rollout.

“The Irish public are scared,” he said. “They are scared that the numbers are not acceptable and we are going to stay in lockdown.

“We have to look at what are we doing now today for when we get out of lockdown. OK, we are going to be out of lockdown in two or three weeks – what is being done in those three to six weeks to make sure the community is safe to come out of lockdown?

What COVID-prevention strategies have been put in place?”


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