‘The Covid Pandemic blindsided the world. Governments found themselves in
alien territory. Now that we have reached this point in the Pandemic, the time has
come for a full review of Ireland’s response to the Pandemic – to closely examine
what we clearly got right and what we undoubtedly got wrong’ said Deputy
Michael Lowry when addressing a Parliamentary Question to Minister for Public
Expenditure, Michael McGrath, in the Dail on Tuesday.
Speaking on the day that the winding down of NPHET was announced, Deputy
Lowry recalled that the in the early stages of the Pandemic Nursing Homes were
largely overlooked and unsupported. ‘Statistics show that Nursing Homes
recorded more than 2000 deaths. Families need to know if any of these deaths
could have been prevented by earlier intervention’ he stated.
‘Throughout the Pandemic, scientific proof of the effectiveness of Antigen Testing
was dismissed by NPHET. I raised the merits of Antigen Testing many times on this
floor. We now know that its use could have prevented costly decisions which
impacted on industry, travel and education.
‘Why did NPHET choose to ignore the expert advice of the Government’s Chief
Scientific Advisor, Professor Mark Ferguson, in relation to Antigen Testing?
‘Even when the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control stated that
Antigen Testing could help reduce transmission, NPHET remained staunchly
against its use.
‘By analysing these mistakes we have an opportunity to prepare for future
outbreaks of disease’ said Deputy Lowry.
In reply, Minister McGrath said that there will undoubtedly be a look back of
Ireland’s Covid experience over the past two years and how it was handled by
Government, by State Bodies and by others as well.
‘Minister Donnelly recently announced the establishment of a Public Health
Reform Expert Advisory Group, which will initially focus on identifying the
learnings from the Public Health components of the response to the Covid 19
Pandemic in Ireland, with a view towards strengthening health protection
generally and our future Health Pandemic preparedness specifically.
‘I think, when the full story is told and when the scorecard of how different
countries fared in handling Covid 19 is published, Ireland will have fared well and
the date in relation to the tragic mortalities we experienced does show that. This
is not in any way to understate the loss and the grief or the trauma that all this
has caused’ said the Minister.