Photo credit: Houses of the Oireachtas

Tóibín is right, the covid crisis is a crisis of government ineptitude

In his speech to the Dáil re the new Covid bill on December 3, Aontú’s Peadar Tóibín hit the nail on the head. The health crisis we have right now is a hospital capacity crisis, and despite borrowing €40 Billion to “fight Covid” the Irish government has done nothing about this capacity issue for the past 19 months. Instead they pursue manic zero covid policies and never ending yo-yo lockdowns, while pushing scapegoating as a cover for their utter cluelessness and dismal failure.

The Irish government’s latest cover for their failure is the great unclean; the almost mythically negligent “unvaccinated” who FF Senator Gerry Horkan tells us should be shunned. 

 

With a handy scapegoat like the unvaccinated available to heap the frustration of the majority, and the powerful, upon, who needs to worry about policy failure? Certainly not the disarrayed and ever-startled government pushing the failed policies of science advisory quangos, while they fail to plan effectively and implement realistic data-driven policies that acknowledge that there is more than one risk that society faces.

They (the government and the media) are not demonizing the unvaccinated to get more people protected against COVID. More than 93% of adults in Ireland have been vaccinated. Historically that’s an unprecedented vaccine take up. Politicians want the majority to blame the minority for one reason and one reason only: so we don’t blame them. By making life unbearable for the majority and blaming all this hardship on a recalcritant few “anti-vaxxers” our so-called leaders are engaging in the oldest power game on the planet.

Tóibín calmly analysed the blunders and errors of the governments covid debacle, and when they are listed they sound damning.

They also sound surmountable with just a tiny bit of strategic leadership and sense. The fact that both these things are poorly absent in the demeanor and decisions of Micheál Martin is only too evident by his occasional distressed lash outs at criticism and his utter deference to people whose only objective seems to be a narrow focus on just one risk to the exclusion of all the myriad issues that can affect a society. 

Martin is like the man who has only one tool, a hammer, and treats every problem as a nail. The nodding heads in the Dáil are equally lost and seem only capable of waiting for someone to tell them what to do.

Unfortunately that someone has become Tony Holohan.

First of all Tóibín puts the risk profile of Covid in context. Yes it’s a dangerous virus to the elderly, but for the majority of the population it presents a very low risk. Covid is mainly an age related risk. That’s a fact.

Tóibín could say this without fear of contradiction because it has been known for over a year and a half at this stage. The Irish government could have used this information to protect the vulnerable and yet they did the knee jerk response of total lockdown of the entire population and accepted all the damaging consequences of that.

Zero Covid was such an impossible pipe dream, yet they talked about it as if it was totally doable if only we all agreed to pull together. The myopic delusion of this is only comparable to the craziest of WWI Generals dreaming of pushing the Germans all the back to Berlin with just one more frontal assault on the enemy lines. So instead of the dreaded “let it rip” profile of spread, we had the “let it drip” horror show of lockdowns.

Was this predictable? Absolutely. 

We know this because one world leader, Ron De Santis of Florida, testified that this was the basis of his policy. Realising from reviewing the literature in April 2020 that the elderly were the ones at risk, De Santis implemented a policy based on this which protected Florida’s vulnerable elderly population while allowing the rest of the state nearly unrestricted freedom. Florida is experiencing an epidemic of freedom amongst its citizens and it has an age adjusted Covid mortality rate similar to locked-down California.

So “let it rip” (Florida) “let it drip” (California), same result.

Good political decision making based on known data is possible, if only you have leaders intelligent enough to look at that data and understand its implications. We unfortunately have someone who looks like the dimmest boy in the class nominated to show his homework

Tóibín pointed out that hospital capacity (ICU capacity in particular) was, both at the beginning of the pandemic and now, the most crucial resource to dealing with Covid. If only we used the past year and a half to increase ICU beds instead of crucifying joggers and people on busses for straying too far from their homes. But no, we still have a chronic shortage of ICU beds. Tóibín gave us this figure; we have a deficit of 260 ICU beds he stated.

Could we possibly have provided a few with just a small portion of that €40 Billion our trusted government borrowed?

How many people are in ICU today with Covid?

Well it’s 110 less than half the amount of ICU places we are short.

So what does our government advise? Put masks on primary school children of course.

Speaking of primary school children. Why are windows open in schools around the country? Why didn’t they spend the summer fixing filtration and ventilation in the schools and other public spaces? Tóibín asked but he is as likely to get an answer to that as he is to the biggest question of them all; why did the government send infected elderly patients back into nursing homes thus exposing the most vulnerable population to a fatal risk? As we know, almost half of all Covid deaths in Ireland were in nursing homes, and many of them were down to this reckless policy.

Tóibín’s party, Aontú, have called for an investigation into this scandal but the government have refused. Probably too busy waiting breathlessly on the NPHET wish-list to do any real governmental work.

What other measures did our government take? In the interest of stopping Covid these genius measures included:

  • €9 meals; 
  • 10 people limits at funerals (while hundreds strolled around Dunnes reaching past each other to touch every item on the shelf)
  • Drinking pints while standing – but not sitting
  • Sending riot police after said pint drinkers
  • Threatening to bring in the army to break up student socialising
  • Masking 9 year old children without regard to their psychological impact or learning impact
  • Crazy yo-yo restrictions
  • Covid-testing strangers and quarantining
  • Covid passes that can allow people who may have Covid into segregated spaces in hospitality, while excluding people who may not. 

But the most rancorous thing was that as Tóibin pointed out; these rules were for the plebs and not for the likes of Zappone and her dáil buddies. Merrion gate illustrated that the Covid overreach was only to be applied to the little people and not to our glorious leaders. Add this to the RTÉ parties and Ireland is sounding like a tin horn republic.

And in all this mess, why is there not rapid antigen testing at the point of entry to hospitals or nursing homes? The places where the most deadly outbreaks happen, and where the most vulnerable people by far reside.

As the Aontú leader put it; the Irish government “has been a fiasco factory for over 18 months.”

Most of the opposition parties are happy to support this governmental policy of unachievable goals, and persistence in failure. The Soc Dems have said they want to stay locked down until we have 10 cases a day – maybe forever then. This type of scientific naivety would have us locked up for the rest of our lives. It is time to start looking elsewhere. 

Even the dumbest politicians now know that Covid is endemic and that we have to live with it. It will be seasonal and the adjustment we need to make is in the health care infrastructure. This is much easier, less miserable, and far less damaging, than a continuation of the clown show of the policy fiascos of the past two years.

Will we all suddenly die of Covid if we relent on the lockdown vigilance? According to the initial hysteria pushed by the Imperial college predictive models the answer is yes, but according to the real life experience of places like Sweden and Florida the answer is definitely no. 

According to their experience, for which we now have undeniable evidence, the lockdowns made very little difference to the eventual Covid death rates. They had sound leaders who could predict this from a close review of the available data; we unfortunately had Varadkar, Martin, and Donnelly and their coterie of hysterics.

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