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Who would have guessed? December 2, 2020

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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Morning Ireland this week had Jack Horgan-Jones of the IT on the other day where he was asked about the loosening of restrictions and in particular the role of private advisors to the government EY (which some will recall as Ernst and Young) analysing the health data. Check out the following exchange.


Q: Why did the government hire outside consultants and not rely on the Dept. of Health’s own data?

A: I think some of this comes back to a sense in political circles (and the government0 that around the time Ireland went into the second lockdown that the government side was underpowered when it came to making the case against that lockdown. The NPHET was able to deploy vast reams of data…when it came to making its case (for moving to Level 5).

Q: Okay, and did EY find anything substantially different to what the Dept. of Health was saying all along?


A: Well, I think interestingly enough given why it was commissioned a lot of the findings in the EY report do follow relatively closely the core thinking that we know about Covid-19 and the Dept. of Health has been telling us since March… that when people are circulating in an unconstrained manner and particularly when there’s alcohol involved the virus tends to spread more freely…

Who would have guessed that the health experts in this state might know what they were talking about?

Speaking of who would have guessed… Jack Horgan-Jones back at base wrote:

It is clear, for example, that Level 5 didn’t quite have the desired effect. This is not to say it didn’t work at all – it did, in combination with the household visits ban. Nphet and the EY report both attribute declines in the level of disease to a combination of the two. But it has not worked as well as intended.

And:

This means that – having fired the most potent weapon we have for as long as the economy will tolerate it – we haven’t been able to suppress the disease to levels seen during the summer.

Who would have guessed that in a context where the government itself was trashing the advice of NPHET in the weeks leading up to the increased measures six weeks ago, and subsequently conducting a low level war with that body (its own medical advisors!) as well as high-profile events where politicians and others didn’t follow the previous advice, that adherence wasn’t as good as it was previously? And yet despite all that… check out the CSO’s latest figures on public attitudes to the restrictions. 18.3% think they are too extreme, 71.5% think they are appropriate (this during Level 5), 10.2% thought them not sufficiently restrictive.

Comments»

1. Tomboktu - December 2, 2020

best comment on the EY analysis

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WorldbyStorm - December 2, 2020

Excellent.

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2. 6to5against - December 2, 2020

The numbers didn’t come down like they did in the summer, but is that really due to adherence? A million kids and teachers are working and studying much as they always would have done. Could the numbers get much lower with that amount of mixing going on?

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WorldbyStorm - December 2, 2020

+1 Absolutely true. That has to be another factor, and one that is definitely underconsidered (by myself as well).

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6to5against - December 2, 2020

A few issues relating to the vulnerable aside, I’m happy the schools have been open this autumn, but its obviously been a factor in keeping the numbers high, and both the Govt and Nphet seem determined to deny that reality. Numbers fell when we went to level 5 and continued to fall until exactly 2 weeks after the schools reopened. Npeht acknowledge that, but claim that it has something to do with an unexplained surge in social activity – that they say exactly coincided with the re-opening of the schools….

I can understand message-management from the govt. I often think that a bit of honesty and openness might serve their needs better, but I suppose that’s not the culture. But for a scientific body to get on board with the sort of data-manipulation that has been used to sidestep the schools issue is distressing to see. Particularly when the integrity of scientific bodies is going to be crucial in convincing people to take a vaccine in the coming months.

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WorldbyStorm - December 2, 2020

Yes, I’ve felt there’s a strange disconnect between NPHET and the issue of schools as against other areas. I wonder was it a case of picking battles they could thought they could win? And that’s very true re the vaccines. Which also I think shows the problematic aspect of LV and others attacking NPHET in recent times.

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pettyburgess - December 2, 2020

Yeah, it is extremely obvious that like most other states there has been a basic policy decision made not to look too closely at schools for fear of what might be found.

Liked by 1 person

WorldbyStorm - December 2, 2020

+1 It’s of a piece with the wholesale aversion to facing up to this situation. Listening to Morning Ireland today and yesterday there was a weird disconnect between Christmas Shopping stories and the coronavirus stories.

Interesting too in schools that they don’t count ‘index’ cases in with those cases found through mass testing.. https://www.irishtimes.com/news/education/covid-19-22-rise-in-cases-detected-in-schools-but-infection-rate-remains-low-1.4425455

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crocodileshoes - December 2, 2020

If I were a teacher, I’d be reminding my Union regularly that my employer is denying that Covid poses any danger to me, and urging that union to retain counsel in due course to lodge hefty claims, if it turns out that I was being knowingly placed in harm’s way all along, because the economy and childcare.

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alanmyler - December 2, 2020

Croc, I think it’s stretching it to claim that the Dept of Education is denying that COVID poses no danger to teachers. Between socially distanced classroom seating, masks, open windows / doors (which is a major enough disconfort this time of year) and the constant cleaning regimes, it’s not that the risks are being denied or ignored. It’s more that most teachers appear to have bought into the idea that the kids are better off being in school than not, that the health risks due to COVID have to be traded off against the mental health impacts of not being in school. Having said all that I’d agree that it’s hardly a coincidence that the infection rates started to increase as soon as schools started back. It seems that in the absence of an elimination strategy the decision was made to keep schools open and to close everything else in the hope that these would balance each other out and keep a lid of sorts on the situation. If that’s the case I think there’s an argument for saying that it has been working as a strategy. Personally I’d prefer to see them go for elimination altogether, but having had to go up to Dublin for work yesterday it’s very clear from the traffic levels on the M50 that most of the economy is still ticking over as usual, in other words it’s not just the schools that have been staying open.

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pettyburgess - December 2, 2020

I’d suggest that the problem is less that the states denies that there could be hazards to teachers and more that the state systematically avoids any attempt to investigate the extent of the hazard posed by schools, to teachers, students, other staff, or their families. Presumably in case investigating and quantifying the risks produces answers that spook teachers and their unions or parents. If the trade off is to shut down almost every aspect of social life so as to keep the schools open, that argument should be made openly and backed by openly presented data.

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alanmyler - December 2, 2020

No disagreement from me on that PB.

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WorldbyStorm - December 2, 2020

Interesting thoughts there, not least the “the decision was made to keep schools open and to close everything else in the hope that these would balance each other out and keep a lid of sorts on the situation”

I think that’s true though I think PB and croc are right that any negative information coming out has been marginalised and/or ignored in the context of schools. The problem of course being that it hasn’t been a steady state, rather we now have Christmas interrupting and throwing that balance aside as people begin to congregate.

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alanmyler - December 2, 2020

All true WBS. I suspect that the government, and media, and business interests, have actually decided to pay only lip service to the containment of the virus at this stage. They/we got the numbers down during Level-5, to a level that gives they a pat on the back for being up there with the best in class in Europe, and now the vaccine roll out is in the very near future and will become the only important news story as they see it going forwards. So the numbers will start shooting up again in early January but the vaccines will be deployed to counter balance that bad news. The elderly and vulnerable groups will be vaccinated first so the hospitalisation and death rates won’t track the increasing infection rates. And we’ll all live happily ever after. Well that’s what I suspect that they’re thinking. Like yourself I’d prefer to see a bit more caution. As I heard someone say on the radio the other day, “you really don’t want to get shot at the end of the war”.

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3. Joe - December 2, 2020

“it’s hardly a coincidence that the infection rates started to increase as soon as schools started back.”

Well, maybe it is and maybe it isn’t. Any other number or combination of factors could contribute to a rise in infection rates.

To be frank, I’m inclined to believe NPHET and other genuine evidence-based expert opinion than the assorted views and speculations of good people such as ourselves on here.

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alanmyler - December 2, 2020

Well I’m inclined to believe Holohan, because he’s got gravitas, but that young imposter lad Glynn isn’t so credible, the numbers went up on his watch. I’d believe Dr John Campbell too, yer man on YouTube. And Andrew Flood on FB, he of the WSM, he does good daily analysis too. As for randommers like yourself and myself, well sure our opinions don’t count for much in the grand scheme of things really do they. So no harm done in expressing an opinion here.

Liked by 1 person

WorldbyStorm - December 2, 2020

Yeah AF’s stuff is good.

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alanmyler - December 2, 2020

Shhhh, say that quietly, I wouldn’t want to be giving too much weight to the opinions of any anarchists!

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6to5against - December 2, 2020

I suppose the issue is whether or not you believe that everything NPHET says is genuine evidence based expert opinion.

I’m not pretending to any speciality on this, but everything I’ve read from reputable sources says that contact with other people is a major factor in the spread of this disease. When they say that that somehow doesn’t apply to schools, I find it a little hard to swallow. When they say that there is social distancing in classrooms, I know that that is not true. And my own experience of the contact tracing would suggest that the HSE have deliberately decided to suppress numbers:

And when senior members of NPHET are talking about anecdotal evidence of full canteens, I find it hard to believe its evidence based science.

I’m happy that schools are open, and I accept the greater risk. But the lack of honesty about it depresses me. And I believe that when scientists use secondary school debating tactics, manipulating data to even a good end, they damage their own cause.

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Dr Nightdub - December 2, 2020

Joe, sample of one here, but…

My wife is a secondary teacher. She also has asthma and high blood pressure, which are two of the infamous “underlying conditions” – basically, if she gets Covid, she’s in serious danger.

In the summer, she applied to Medmark, the Dept of Education’s outsourced occupational health consultants (a company owned by Eamon Ryan’s brother, BTW) to be certified as high risk and be let continue teaching remotely as she had been since the initial lockdown in March. They basically told her “Yes, you’re high risk, but you’re not high-enough risk, you have to go in.”

So she went in the week before school was due to resume. The size of her classroom meant that with social distancing, there should be a max of 17 students – or, say 16 students and 1 SNA – in there with her. Some of her classes have up to 30 in them.

She’s been out sick since and is still fighting with Medmark to be let teach remotely. But no, the schools have to stay open, come what may.

Another example: in a school in Drogheda, three teachers were notified by the HSE’s Covid app that they ahd been close contacts of a confirmed case. The HSE’s contact tracing team turned up in the school and told them to ignore the app, that anything it said didn’t apply to them.

Something VERY rotten in the state of Denmark…

Liked by 2 people

WorldbyStorm - December 2, 2020

Similar situation here Dr. re high blood pressure, thankfully the partner is in FE so that’s a lot less high pressure in terms of numbers but goes in 3 days a week and zooms 2 half days. In fairness the FE crew have been excellent. Creature in NS and in v big room but other classes in smaller rooms. Got to wonder how it will go.

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