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Attempts to whip up new Covid panic not supported by evidence

Now that the world seems to have stopped burning, mysteriously connected to the arrival of Autumn – although as veterans of Autumn will know there is always the danger of the ‘Indian Burning’ (or ought that be the ‘Native American Buring?) – we need something else to scare the living Bejaysus out of us.

Back to Covid so. Following the flop of their difficult second album, the Covid band appeared to have slipped into the post wonder drug induced dullness that afflicted some of the super groups of the 1970s – Pink Floyd and Genesis spring to mind – but they are back. Starting with an understated acoustic set in small towns, but avidly promoted by old hacks and groupies who yearn for the halcyon days when the band could stop the world in its tracks.


Nessa Childers, who used to be someone and who has been in more parties than your average helium balloon, clearly misses the olden times. She has been busy of late WARNING the Irish people that Covid numbers are rising, and that if they have any sense at all they will be kitting themselves out with a sturdy new mask and an assortment of fans. Which if they forget where they are they can leave instructions in large red letters on their wall. Or something. Just in case.

Not to be outdone, Gareth O’Callaghan has joined the fray. He is concerned about a new Eris variant which has not only not been detected in Ireland yet, but does not appear to have led to any significant increase in deaths in countries where it has turned up among people presenting with the virus.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has added Eris (EG.5.1) it to its ever growing list of variants and hospitalisations have increased in the United States and elsewhere, but there has been no evidence of the sort of wave of deaths apparently feared by some. Hospitalisations and deaths have increased to some extent but from a very small basis.

O’Callaghan claims not to be advocating for a return of the lockdowns which he supported in the past, but a Tweet referring to the re-opening of schools and the lack of response from the state implies that he is in fact hoping for some sort of restrictions. He was a staunch advocate of the same in their heyday.


O’Callaghan suffers from COPD, but at the risk of being unkind, O’Callaghan was at this game three years ago when condemning people who had attended an anti-lockdown protest as “idiots” who were endangering his life. He accused them of being “brainwashed, bitter and selfish”. He seems to believe that everyone must live restricted lives so that his life is not endangered, but Life doesn’t work like that unfortunately.

Most recently, a systematic review and meta-analysis by scientists from Johns Hopkins University and Lund University concluded that the Covid lockdown policies adopted in countries like Britain and the US – and we had similar restrictions – were a ‘failure of gigantic proportions’ and that the deaths saved were ‘a drop in the bucket compared to the staggering collateral costs imposed’.

For people like O’Callaghan a policy of targeted protection would have better served everyone, it seems.


Fortunately the figures do not appear to back the claims of either Childers nor O’Callaghan. According to last week’s update from the HSE there were 145 confirmed cases on August 1. RTÉ’s Helen Donohue did try her best to make the most of the Covid “trending upwards,” but you could sort of tell that her heart was not really in it, and was forced to refer to the HSE’s own take which was that there has been “no significant increase in severity.”

Not only that but the HSE’s own figures show that the rolling seven day average of cases this time last year was over three times the current seven day rolling average. The number of daily cases reported was also far higher at the end of July 2022 than it is now, and nobody was bothered much then either.

As for the punters themselves they do not appear to be panicking as of yet, and the take up of the fourth booster has been disappointingly low. Just 180,503 of you had bothered your backside to get one by the middle of July.

To conclude, it is perhaps timely to remind ourselves of the sort of idiocy that came about on foot of the last global lockdown. Laugh, because laughter as Milan Kundera and others have shown in the past, is often the most fitting response to the aspirant totalitarian tendencies seen in those who dwell among us.

And remind yourself that what statistical evidence we do possess supports none of the nonsense that was propagated at the time, and none of the draconian restrictions that were imposed. What statistics do show, and Ireland is a prime case, is that some of the key measures that were put in place, within nursing homes for example and the neglect of serious illnesses such as cancer, during the Covid Panic contributed to other deaths.

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