The Taoiseach has said reopening would still have been delayed if NPHET’s modelling took account of the planned changes to the vaccine rollout.
It has emerged that NPHET’s prediction that the reopening of indoor dining would lead to a huge COVID wave did not take the faster rollout in consideration.
The models, one of which predicted a surge in cases dwarfing anything the country has seen up to now, led to Cabinet deciding to delay re-opening.
This morning, the Health Minister Stephen Donnelly told Pat Kenny that the vaccine changes, which will allow younger people to access AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson (J&J), came too late to be included in NPHET’s modelling.
Here are the various scenarios NPHET presented the Government with for the spread of COVID over the next few months pic.twitter.com/uPgfxCaiXD
— Seán Defoe (@SeanDefoe) June 29, 2021
Speaking this afternoon, the Taoiseach Micheál Martin said the vaccine advice would not have changed the reopening decision.
“I think the idea of trying to connect and say, well if it was in, it would had led to a different decision – that is not on,” he said.
“That is not the case whatsoever. You have got to be very clear on this. In no shape or form would it have changed the decision to pause. That is the key point.”
Some Ministers have said they feel misled by the information they were given before making the decision - insisting that the Taoiseach told them on Tuesday that the vaccine changes were included in the predictions.
However, the Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan last night told opposition TDs that the modelling did not take into account a faster vaccine roll-out.
The Chief Executive of the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI) Padraig Cribben said new modelling is now needed from NPHET.
“That modelling exercise as it is called needs to be redone and redone very quickly to see what effect the new situation is going to have on the numbers that were predicted by NPHET at the time,” he said.
He also called for the five scenarios put forward by NPHET to be weighted by likelihood to see how creditable each one is.
“If for example, Option One was say 70% likely to happen, then that balance may change the overall decision,” he said.
“I think that also needs to be factored in to any redoing of the numbers which needs to be done immediately.
“It needs to be done very fast because this is a very significant change in the vaccination process.”
The re-opening delay was savaged by some members at the Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael parliamentary party meetings last night.
TD Marc MacSharry said he has no confidence in the Taoiseach and even less in party colleague and Health Minister Stephen Donnelly.
A number of TDs across both parties warned that, if legislation is needed to ensure only vaccinated people will be allowed to dine indoors, they will vote against it.