The current surge in coronavirus cases has paralysed hospitals and will create 'silent deaths' into the future.
That's according to Dr Denis McCauley, chairman of the Irish Medical Organisation's GP Committee.
He told The Pat Kenny Show the virus is now "everywhere".
"We're not doing any testing, we're just treating the people that are sick with COVID.
"There's an extraordinary amount of COVID, I think we're living with COVID.
"I think there's COVID everywhere at the present minute, it is burning brightly.
"I think people are getting quite sick with this, unfortunately - some people are getting ill and having to go into hospital."
He believes the true picture may not be known for years.
"There's a lot of sick people with COVID, there's going to be a lot of long COVID.
"There are people who the numbers may not reflect the actual sickness.
"But unfortunately it's the background sickness that we are now going to have to cope with, and deal with, that sort of silent death.
"The cancer that was diagnosed late, the treatment that was delayed.
"All those things we won't be able to materially find out, even epidemiologically at a later date, and that's the sad part.
"I think it's what can be done now - we knew the public measures worked, we see what happened when they were stopped.
"I think there was sort of three or four weeks where the numbers were getting very high, there was [a] lack of commentary... re-emphasising the mannerly thing to do.
"I think doing it forward, there is a call for it.
"The effect it'll have on this surge, it's burning so brightly, I'm not sure it'll have an actual material effect on the population numbers - but it'll have individual effects".
'Winter surge with bells'
Dr McCauley says hospitals are seeing a paralysis due to COVID-19 cases.
"The two important points really are: it's not what can be done, it's perhaps what should have been done.
"Secondly the effect in the community... is sort of variable, but unfortunately it is the hospitals that are suffering dreadfully.
"The numbers of people with COVID in the hospital is very high, but unfortunately that has caused general paralysis."
Dr McCauley says while ICU numbers are low, this is unlikely to be the measurement.
"Probably in hindsight, the surge will not be judged by the amount of COVID deaths - it'll be probably be judged by the extra deaths of cancers not being diagnosed, not being treated, the psychological affect.
"Our major concern is just the paralysis that is taking place: everything has stopped because the hospitals are just packed with people with COVID.
"Thankfully not that many are going into ICU, but it's like a winter surge again - but with bells added".