Reopening dates will not drive down Irish Covid-19 figures, Dr Mike Ryan warns

Reopening Dates Will Not Drive Down Irish Covid-19 Figures, Dr Mike Ryan Warns Reopening Dates Will Not Drive Down Irish Covid-19 Figures, Dr Mike Ryan Warns
The WHO's executive director of emergency programmes said there was no point exiting lockdown only to lurch back. Photo: Getty Images.
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Vivienne Clarke

Setting dates for the reopening of society in Ireland will not “drive anything” and getting the number of Covid-19 cases down remains the most important measure, Dr Mike Ryan has warned.

The World Health Organisation (WHO)’s executive director of emergency programmes said the Government had few options while the number of cases remained at current levels.

Speaking on RTÉ radio’s News at One, Dr Ryan said there was not much point in exiting lockdown only to lurch back.

There had to be trade-offs, he added: “We need to get on top of the virus.”

Once the number of deaths and hospitalisations was reduced then there would be more choice to open up society, he said. “This is like setting a challenge for ourselves.”

Every time a person made a “smart” choice that would take away from the high numbers.



Dr Ryan said that the vaccination programme would cause a decrease in deaths and hospitalisation for vulnerable groups and while there was no question that all of the vaccines offered protection, it remained unknown if they stopped transmission.

Until there was certainty that the vaccines could offer protection from transmission of the virus there would be a necessity to maintain certain measures “for some time.”

Ireland was on a downward curve and it was really important that people “hold firm” so that numbers could come down and the vaccination programme could be rolled out. It was “a vicious cycle and virtuous circle,” he added.

Treatments for the virus had also improved and there was now better management of clinical pathways which meant better outcomes.

Take a bow

The people of Ireland needed to take a bow, Dr Ryan said. Communities, the public health service and the Government had all gotten control of the situation, “but we’re not out of the woods yet.”

When asked about wealthier countries providing surplus vaccines to poorer countries, Dr Ryan said this was an opportunity for the world to do “something special.”

It was a practical issue, not just a humane or ethical issue. Ireland was working at a multilateral level with the EU on this issue, he said.

On the issue of investment in public health services, Dr Ryan used a sporting analogy “fail to prepare, prepare to fail” and said that the world needed to learn that lesson. The single biggest failure of the pandemic in this respect was the failure to prepare, he said.

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