An adviser to the World Health Organisation says Ireland should allow Covid-19 to spread in a “controlled” way among people under 60.
Johan Giesecke, Sweden’s former chief epidemiologist and a member of the WHO’s strategic and technical advisory group for infectious hazards, will make the comments at the Oireachtas coronavirus committee on Wednesday morning. Several medical experts will appear before the committee, which is examining options for eliminating community transmission of Covid-19.
Mr Giesecke will advise the Government to allow controlled spread of the virus among people under 60 and concentrate on the old and frail, with frequent tests of staff and residents in care homes.
Dr Martin Daly, a former president of the Irish Medical Organisation, disagrees with that approach. “In my view, it is a social experiment as it runs the risk of spreading to our vulnerable groups. Because even with the best will in the world, it will take a special kind of discipline to protect our vulnerable groups.
“I still think we should follow the current NPHET [National Public Health Emergency Team] advice,” he said.
Mr Giesecke will also tell the Government not to build its Covid strategy around a possible vaccine.He will say there could be a long wait for immunisation and it may not be effective for those who need it most.
He will also urge the Government to be wary of authoritarian, un-democratic decisions by authorities during the pandemic.
Furthermore, Ireland should also stop aiming for Covid-free status or even for levels as low as in July at the end of lockdown, the president of the Irish Society of Clinical Microbiology, Kirsten Schaffer, will tell the committee. The “economic and social impact would be devastating”, she is expected to say.
This comes after Dr Ronan Glynn, the acting chief medical officer, warned that Covid-19 is spreading “disproportionately” among younger people.
The latest figures from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre show 40 per cent of cases in the last two months have been in people aged between 15 and 34.Another 334 cases of the virus were reported across the country on Tuesday.
NPHET will consider whether to recommend further restrictions at a meeting on Thursday. Up to eight counties are in danger of moving to Level 3 restrictions, the same level in force in Dublin.
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