A group  of doctors and scientists are calling for an end to the Covid-19 lockdown with one spokesman saying that NPHET should be disbanded. They say that “lockdowns are harmful to society and do not work to contain pandemics.”

Almost 170 experts have signed a white paper from the group called ‘COVID-19: A Rational Approach’, which argues that hard lockdown should be removed as a mitigation measure, and says that NPHET daily briefings are “open to misinterpretation and sensationalism by media” driving fear and concern among the public.

They say they “have petitioned the government to widen the debate to include all scientific and medical evidence as to the effect of extreme measures such as lockdowns”.

“It is our conclusion after analysing this information that lockdowns are harmful to society and do not work to contain pandemics. The Irish people are now subject to conditions imposed upon them which will cause great harm to society in the future,” they wrote.

The group includes former Fianna Fáíl Minister Dr Jim McDaid, who is a GP, and infectious disease expert Prof Jack Lambert of the Mater Hospital.

Spokesman for the group, Cavan GP Dr Michael McConville, told the Independent  that NPHET should be “disbanded”.

“We are now seeking an urgent meeting with the Government to tell them they need to disband Nphet. The Government needs to widen itself to a wider discipline of experts,” he said.

“If Nphet went away, a disaster would not take place. Why hasn’t everyone working in supermarkets got sick? They are dealing with the great unwashed in their thousands every day. These workers have not got Covid in their droves so it’s perfectly reasonable to assume that the same would happen in the general population.”

The group’s white paper  concludes that instead of a lockdown, the government should focus on “established, time-honoured pre-2020 epidemic management. ”

They say that lockdowns are “dysfunctional and cyclical in nature with potential to render repeated harm on our society in the absence of a credible alternative approach. Reliance on lockdown strategy until such time as a vaccine is fully implemented and effective, would be unsustainable and an error in our view.”

They also call for “intensive and focused protection of the vulnerable” while insisting on the “restoration of a functional health service” including restoration of cancer screening and diagnostic services to pre-2020 levels.

The medical professionals say that they are “deeply concerned by the absence of balance and debate in the media” around  COVID-19 related issues and that fear should be replaced by realistic information.