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What a difference 12 hours makes… September 24, 2020

Posted by guestposter in Uncategorized.

Yesterday’s star witness at the Dáil Committee changed his analysis… from arguing for a ‘controlled spread’ of the virus in Ireland in the morning, by late afternoon he declared:

“I’m not prescribing anything for Ireland,” [Dr Johan Giesecke] told Drivetime on RTÉ Radio One. “You have to make your own decisions. That’s not up to me.

“What you just told me, I’m unaware of this. I’m objecting to you saying I’m telling Ireland what to do. I’m not.

“What you’re telling me is a lot of things I don’t know. I was asked to join this committee. I didn’t volunteer for it. With all this knowledge of the Irish situation, and the way your country works, I can’t tell you that this would be better for Ireland.”

In the morning he had been certain that:

…there should be a “controlled spread” among the under 60s and that the State should allow a “tolerable spread” of the virus in the over-60s.

He said schools must remain open and he pointed out that there was no difference between infections among schoolchildren in Sweden, where schools were kept open, and in neighbouring Finland which closed its schools.

And suddenly there was much talk about ‘herd immunity’ and it took the Taoiseach to point out the obvious:

Martin said he “doesn’t believe in the herd immunity approach”, adding that those who have previously advocated for it “didn’t fully realise the impact of this virus on people and on people’s health, even if you survive”.

As for ‘herd immunity’ this was on the nose:

NPHET’s epidemiological modelling advisory group chair Professor Philip Nolan said tonight there was no guarantee herd immunity would work and is ethically questionable.

“The problem with that entire strategy is first of all there’s no guarantee that we will build up herd immunity to a significant extent by letting the disease travel through young people,” he said.


Professor Nolan also said that said that “even if it were ethically” appropriate to suggest that more at-risk groups from Covid-19, such as older people, isolate themselves from the rest of the community while such a strategy was being pursued, there’s no guarantee they wouldn’t get the disease.

“I could certainly never advise we take the kind of risks explicit in adopting this kind of strategy that allows this disease to travel through young people with some, in my view, vain hope of protecting older people,” he said. “And also in the unproven hope it will render the population immune for future infection.”

But what new information was put to Dr Johan Giesecke that would change his mind?

Speaking later, Dr Giesecke denied that he was prescribing the Swedish model for Ireland after it was put to him that differences between Ireland and Sweden’s population densities, classroom sizes, and sick pay entitlements would likely mean different outcomes in the two countries.

So these are not the sort of things those who testify before committees are meant to take into account before testifying? Is it too much to ask that the use of terms like ‘herd immunity’ by the media and politicians and those commenting in the public space be informed by some engagement with medical thinking on the matter – and familiarity with the nature of the virus, the lack of certainty over long-term immunity, the tail of negative impacts on some of those who survive, etcetera?


1. gregtimo - September 24, 2020

Bloody hell. Why is the ‘swedish model’ even discussed?. It has a fatality rate 5 times Denmark so far (a much more densely populated country) with 575 deaths per million versus 109 (and much worse than our official 368).


2. gregtimo - September 24, 2020

How very decayed neo-liberal to advocate an irresponsible policy and then avoid responsibility for the damage done for that advocacy . Again fubar

Liked by 2 people

WorldbyStorm - September 24, 2020

That’s a really interesting point you make there gregtimo re how typically neo-liberal it is, which suggests that in a sense neo-liberalism is as much a mindset as a socio-economic approach and that’s not comforting in the slightest. It is akin to the ‘there’s no alternative’ school of thought – naturally enough, being an extension of Thatcherism etc. But it’s that sense in which it inflects even the analyses of people who are in opposition to it that is so deeply concerning.

Liked by 1 person

benmadigan - September 24, 2020

Since neo-libersalism has been the prevailing model for the last 40 years with as many elements as possible of society being commodified, it would be surprising if it didn’t “infect the analyses of people who are opposed to it”

Liked by 1 person

WorldbyStorm - September 24, 2020

Couldn’t agree more. And that has a demoralising effect too, doesn’t it?


3. CL - September 24, 2020

“Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease specialist, sparred Wednesday over the country’s efforts to mitigate the spread of Covid-19 and when “herd immunity” from the virus is reached….
Fauci, director the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, noted during the exchange with Paul that New York has been able to bring down its test positivity rate to 1 percent or less because the state adhered to guidelines such as wearing masks, social distancing outdoors, avoiding crowds and washing hands.

Paul cut off Fauci, dismissing those mitigation efforts. He implied instead that New Yorkers have “developed enough community immunity” to beat the pandemic….

Paul also compared the responses to Covid-19 in New York and New Jersey to that of Sweden.

Swedes went on with life as usual, for the most part, during the pandemic, without closing bars or restaurants. The country, which Paul lauded as having a “softer touch” on lockdowns, has logged just under 6,000 Covid-19 deaths.

Fauci countered, saying that it is not appropriate to compare Sweden’s death rate with the U.S.
“Compare Sweden’s death rate to other comparable Scandinavian countries,” Fauci said. “It’s worse.”

‘Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s top medical expert on the coronavirus pandemic and a member of President Donald Trump’s coronavirus task force, is facing threats to his personal safety and now requires personal security from law enforcement at all times, including at his home,’

Fauci on Late Late Show tomorrow.

“The host said he was very excited to talk to Dr Fauci, a man with “the most difficult job” during the Covid-19 pandemic who, he told listeners, is “undermined” by US President Donald Trump “at every turn”. RTE.

Liked by 1 person

4. tafkaGW - September 24, 2020

From what I’ve read the strategy is still supported within Sweden, where the media presents a quite different picture of those proposing and running it. Perhaps the dissent is growing.

They have to go to foreign media to get any significant critique.

And from that follows the usual cultural divide – which plays out everywhere – between those who read non-Swedish language sources and those who read more widely.

Liked by 1 person

tafkaGW - September 24, 2020

Sorry – meant ‘those who access only Swedish and Swedish-language resources and those who get their information more widely.’

Liked by 1 person

5. CL - September 24, 2020

” Fauci pointed out that their advice continues to be met with furious resistance and violent rhetoric from America’s right-wing fringe.”

This right-wing fringe has fellow-travellers in Ireland too ; it needs to be isolated lest it contaminates the body politic.

Liked by 1 person

EWI - September 25, 2020

Another ‘Covid truther’ article in the Irish Times yesterday:

Dr Martin Feeley: Young and healthy majority need to be allowed to live

This disease is profoundly different to the Spanish flu, which was an indiscriminate killer



WorldbyStorm - September 25, 2020

Atrocious, isn’t it?


6. gypsybhoy69 - September 24, 2020

Interesting thread

Liked by 1 person

WorldbyStorm - September 25, 2020

She points to a basic truth, If something sounds too good to be true the chances are it is too good to be true and the Swedish situation really points that up. Particularly interesting is the sense of how wealth protects and how neo liberal Sweden actually is, something we on the left have been aware of for years but as she says the national branding doesn’t touch on.

Btw she was a real loss to Irish journalism when she left.


Jim Monaghan - September 25, 2020

There was a touch of the “National”, to Swedish Social Democracy. Replkicated across the water, withg “British Jobs for Britons” and now Stamer’s patriotism.

Liked by 1 person

WorldbyStorm - September 25, 2020



tafkaGW - September 25, 2020

“interesting is the sense of how wealth protects and how neo liberal Sweden actually is”

And how much Swedish governments and media have allowed the proto-fascist right to set the agenda.

Liked by 1 person

7. Sunday and other Media Stupid Statements from this week… | The Cedar Lounge Revolution - September 27, 2020

[…] For how long? Personal choice? How could any of that go wrong? Because it went wrong that same day when Dr. Giesecke retreated from his argument arguing that: […]


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