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Covid Hotel Quarantine starts in Ireland…but NOTHING will change!

After a very long long delay, the Irish Government finally managed to “turn on” the mandatory Hotel Quarantine for some specific people coming to Ireland. It took a long time until all laws were in place and the whole scheme was organised and on Friday, the first people (rumours has it that they came to Ireland on a flight from Saudi Arabia) have moved into their hotel room where they will have to stay for 12 days and will to pay EUR 1850 for the pleasure.

On the list of countries of people that will be forced to stay in hotel quarantine are the usual holiday destinations like Botswana, Burundi and Angola and without a doubt a LOT of tourists will come from these locations. NOT! Also on it are countries like Brazil where there is a big problem at the moment. But there is no USA or France or Italy on the list where the problems are ALSO big. Instead from the countries we seem to like more, you just need a PCR test and then you won’t be forced into hotel quarantine. How can we apply completely different rules? Oddly the only European country on the list is Austria, which is definitely not the worst in Europe. And also very oddly: Mauritius is on the list that has a super low infection rate but that unfairly got involved in some mud throwing by the UK. (www.joergsteegmueller.com/2021/02/27/trust-in-authorities-during-covid-times/) So the UK added them to the list and magically, they appear on the Irish list as well.

In addition to arrivals from 33 countries (www.citizensinformation.ie/en/travel_and_recreation/travel_to_ireland/hotel_quarantine.html) everyone has to go into hotel quarantine that arrives from any other country but does not have a negative or not detected PCR test that was taken within 72 hours.

The quarantine MIGHT have made sense in March 2020, but now it is a joke! The HSE estimates that approx. 1.7% of all cases are brought into Ireland through international travel. So you can expect that that complicated scheme that involves a whole range of hotels with income guarantees and even utilises the army to escort the prisoners, sorry…arriving travelers to the hotels.

A totally mad and ineffective system at the totally wrong time with totally wrong rules.

Here are the rules if you want to know more: www.gov.ie/en/publication/3b8e1-mandatory-hotel-quarantine-your-questions-answered/

Don’t trust anybody! Covid-19: Astra Zeneca Blood clots

The newest information that reached Irish media is that all vaccinations with the Astra Zeneca vaccine have been put on hold over a risk of blood clots, that affected 4 patients in Norway and a few more in other countries. www.rte.ie/news/2021/0314/1203889-niac-recommends-suspension-of-use-of-astrazeneca-vaccin/

Sounds like a sound and responsible decision, right? Duty of care and all that. Well done, boys!

But then you look at the BIG picture and think back to February and also think about what else is going on and suddenly you realise that there is probably a lot more going on. AGAIN!

Here are the facts and conclusions:

Norway had 4 (FOUR!!) cases of blood clots. They are all in hospital and are being treated. In Austria one person died from a blood clot and one if in hospital, in Denmark one died (a second one is in hospital) and in Italy possibly also one death has been reported.

So that is a total of maybe three deaths and five people in hospital. 8 people out of 17 million administered vaccines. Maybe it is even 30 patients as the article mentions when referring to the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

That’s still not a lot and a link to the vaccine is far from clear, but yes, it probably makes sense to pause a clinical trial if you have some deaths. (Oh, you think this is NOT a clinical trial? Hmm, think again!! It is a mass trial and nothing else but an experiment!)

But let’s move on and remember January. We found out at the end of January that 33 elderly people in Norway died shortly after receiving their Covid-19 vaccination from Pfizer/BioNTech. But we were told quickly that this has NO relevance (www.wired.co.uk/article/norway-deaths-coronavirus-vaccine) because the patients were elderly and would have died anyway. :-O

We don’t even know if there were other deaths elsewhere in the world. Or maybe we do but we aren’t told? We don’t know in what state of health they or the others that possibly died elsewhere were in. We now their age and a conclusion was made. We just discarded the 33 old people in Norway and moved on. Not for a second the vaccination programme was halted.

This time a number of countries halted the Astra Zeneca vaccination and MANY countries followed quickly, because if ONE country stops it and someone dies in ANOTHER country the politicians and “experts” and the country where people died will be blamed. Publicity-caused ripple effect!

A blood clot is something serious, but there seem to be a number of different blood clot-caused issues that could have killed the patients and pulmonary embolism or deep vein thrombosis are the main ones.

As a side note: Between 1981 and 1999 a total of 5408 patients were admitted to hospital with venous thromboembolism (deep vein thrombosis) after they were on international flights according to a study www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC261739/. That is 5408 in 18 years or 300 per year. Have you heard of halting all international flights until the matter is investigated further?

But back to the vaccines:
The significant difference between the end of January and now is that at that time there was not much other choice available. So, we better keep going.

This time, however, we are in a situation where Astra Zeneca just can’t supply ENOUGH vaccine and governments around the world try to “fix” that problem or explain it SOMEHOW. The Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Micheal Martin even thought it was prudent to seek a meeting with the CEO of Astra Zeneca to discuss the problem. As if the CEO was giggling while sitting on a stash that he doesn’t want to release to the governments of the world UNTIL Micheal Martin told him off..

So Astra Zeneca can’t deliver and there won’t be many vaccinations. People in Ireland and other countries are getting annoyed and governments try to make the process faster, but can’t and they get a lot of pressure from their people. And just in that moment a reason pops up that gives PERFECT justification to all countries to stop the use of that one vaccine for a week or so. Breathing space for politicians!!

Is anyone surprised that they JUMP On the opportunity to halt the vaccination? In one week there will be more doses, so this breathing space nicely shuts up all the complainers in media and public for a little bit.

Don’t trust ANYBODY in this Covid game!!! Everybody has an agenda!

 

How to lose the people’s support for anti-Covid measures!

How to lose the people’s support for anti-Covid measures!

You would think that people who are doing something the second time around will have learned from the first time and will do everything better, right? But strangely it seems that leopards really don’t change their spots, as the saying goes, at least not easily. :-O And it also seems that learning is harder than we think. We do make mistakes even if they stare us in the face. I know that and you might know that too!?

But before this turns into a psychotherapy session ;-) I should explain that I am (at least in part) referring to our politicians and their learning from the first lockdown. We will be for another good while in this lockdown… but they really didn’t learn!!

Things weren’t perfect the first time around, but we largely did what we were told, because it was quite clear and because we thought we understood why we did it. But then we realised that the politicians and “experts” really had no clue either and so the second time around the approach should have been to explain things better and to make it easier to adhere to the rules. More laws, threats (penalties, even prison) for breaking some of the rules and sending gardai to stop shops from selling their normal items (as they we allowed the first time around) is NOT the way to do it.

Instead it is a guarantee to lose the support from the people! And being out on the streets and in shops, it is clear that the trust and support is gone. The current nonsensical rules over “essential products” show that the government has no clue of what lockdowns mean to you and me. Closing SOME aisles of supermarkets, making it illegal to buy stationary or a towel, but legal to buy alcohol is a ridiculous over exaggeration.

Leo Varadkar who didn’t do too badly the first time around has totally screwed up this time (www.rte.ie/news/coronavirus/2020/1025/1173788-coronavirus-ireland/) and our temporary other Taoiseach, Micheal Martin is just continuing his non-impressive handling of an admittedly challenging situation.

There are two effects that the “making illegal” of selling any extra products in supermarkets apart from things that are required for survival will have: The first effect is that as soon as shops are open fully again, there will be a mad run on shops with the consequence that even before Christmas the infection numbers will increase like crazy again. And the second effect is that even the bit of money that is made through selling a chainsaw in Lidl or a fleece jacket in Aldi or a child’s runners in Dunnes during the lockdown will now make its way to Amazon, instead of staying in Ireland. The government is showing the middle finger to any “buy local” campaign and in the end the small retailers that they allegedly want to protect with this stupid rule will not get the business anyway.

The Corona Files: Next step of lifting restrictions will NOT be taken

The Corona Files: Next step of lifting restrictions will NOT be taken

The news is out and it is not good!

Pubs will stay closed for AT LEAST another four weeks until 31 August and – let’s face it – it is highly unlikely that anything significant will change in the next three weeks, considering the worldwide Covid situation. So who knows until when they will stay closed.

This obviously also has a significant impact on any live entertainment going forward and will not only leave pub owners and employees in a challenging situation, but will be devastating news for all the musicians that we have in Ireland.

A curfew for restaurants and pubs serving food of 23:00 was introduced as well (takeaways are allowed to stay open longer) and face masks will be mandatory in shops from 10 August.

And if you were hoping that there will be SOME good news elsewhere….not so!

Malta, Cyprus, Gibraltar, San Marino and Monaco were taken off the green list and seemingly no other countries were added.

The limits for crowds will also stay in place: 50 for indoor events and 200 for outdoor events.

———

And ALL this while we currently only have 448 cases of reported Covid infections in Ireland. If we multiply this by 10 to catch non-reported infections, then we have in the whole country just 4480 active cases. If we assume a population of 4,921,500, you need to meet 1098 (!!) people before you meet ONE Covid sufferer. 😮

Can we survive another while without pubs? Sure we can if we have to! But looking at how public health policy is made at the moment, the makers of the rules seem to believe in the fairy tale that Ireland can eradicate the Coronavirus. Does that sound likely to you? What is your guess, when will pubs open? And will we have to cancel Christmas?

(Clarification: The number 448 is the sum of all cases that were reported in the last 14 days and is therefore the number of the cases that can assumed to be still active.)

The Corona Files: Can we trust our leaders in this crisis?

The Corona Files: Can we trust our leaders in this crisis?

[This post got a bit longer than planned and you might not have the time to read the whole post, but I can promise you that it is worth it, because there is some amazing and unheard of news towards the end of it!]

After more than a month in “lockdown”, with a significantly changed infection rate and considering what is happening in other countries, it is now time to think about the trust we can or should have in the politicians in Ireland to do the right thing.

While the picture here is by far not as shocking as in the USA, where Trump suggested to put UV light “inside people” to kill the virus or maybe to inject disinfectant (www.youtube.com/watch?v=33QdTOyXz3w) so that the virus dies, we still need to keep a close eye on what is done with our lives and to us by the people who are in power.

Because I do believe that we are dealing with a virus, a virus that is more dangerous than other viruses (I will write another time about THAT discussion and the Conspiracy Theories that are connected to it.), I do think that the soft-ish lockdown that we were put under, was the right thing to do.

But I am wondering of the people in charge are the right ones to get us out again.

Who is in charge?

First let’s have a look at the power structure in Ireland to see who is really in charge right now.

It seems that the following people and organisations/forums are on this list: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Health Minister Simon Harris, National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET), Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan and maybe also Professor Philip Nolan, who is leading the modelling team.

This is an interesting list for many reasons:
The majority of people on it are seemingly un-elected and are employees or subcontractors of the Department of Health. It seems to be really difficult to find out who is part of the NPHET (I wasn’t able to!) and the NPHET doesn’t release any minutes of their meetings anymore. But it seems that the two elected politicians (Don’t worry, I will come to that!), Varadkar and Harris, leave ALL or nearly all decisions to the NPHET. Alan Kelly, the Labour leader, has some justified concerns about NPHET: www.thejournal.ie/taoiseach-nphet-alan-kelly-5082184-Apr2020/

In a setup like this, there is a huge risk that experts are experts ONLY in their area, but don’t really see/understand or want to care about any other aspects of their decisions. You probably know the saying, to a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail!

Because a modeller cares very much about his models and a Chief Medical Officer cares very much about the medical aspects of this pandemic, they definitely have to be PART of the advisory group, but after that should it not be the elected politicians that carry the responsibility and also then make the decisions and announce the decisions?

Yes (I am getting to that now!), I am fully aware that neither Harris nor Varadkar are confirmed in their roles after the recent election. And strictly speaking, they lost the election and would have to get re-elected or re-appointed before they are confirmed in their roles. However, they are – according to the Irish Constitution – rightly and correctly continuing in their roles until a new Taoiseach is elected and a new Minister of Health has been appointed.

On the way into the lockdown, I think they did do the right thing and performed well. But a critic could say that the getting into a lockdown is easy and you can’t do much wrong, the way out of the lockdown is MUCH more complicated and requires completely different leadership.

I am not convinced that the people in power are the right ones to get us out of the lockdown. The Chief Medical Officer will be judged by the only statistic he focuses on on a daily basis: Number of newly infected and number of deaths. The Modelling expert, only looks at the virus reproduction number R (and surprisingly for an expert he seemingly doesn’t understand that R0 and R are not the same!! R0 is the max reproduction number and R or Reff is the REAL reproduction number. Prof Nolan got it wrong here www.gov.ie/en/publication/ea86cc-covid-19-modelling-data-thursday-16-april-2020/). And if you are judged by ONE specific result or number, then naturally you only focus on that one single issue and tend to loose sight of any other issues.

So who will look at the other effects and impacts? There are social, mental, economic, educational and political impacts as well.

This is the sphere were politicians need to make decisions, but to do that, they might have to tell the medics and modellers that they appreciate their advise but might choose not to follow it for now and do we think Varadkar and Harris would do that? I don’t think Harris would and I am not too sure about Varadkar.

NO politician anywhere in Europe or even worldwide KNOWS what to do in the current situation, so we can’t be tooo harsh with our judgement. No medic or modeller really has reliable and 100% correct data! Apart from the number of deaths, everything else is pure guess work. We have NO idea how many people have been infected. We don’t even know exactly how the infections happen and why some people have a weak reaction and others have a strong reaction to an infection. So all the people in power are totally winging it! Not only in Ireland, but worldwide.

So what can be done? In my opinion, we should watch closely what is happening in other countries. Austria, Germany, Denmark and Czech (and a few more) are starting to ease the restrictions and our politicians should look at that to 50% and listen to the experts with the other 50%.

But this expert forum has to change now! Medics and modellers are still needed, but in addition we need to add people that know about mental health, that are experts in education and in economy. The expert group that will ADVISE our politicians (not lead instead of the politicians) has to spread wider and cover more bases.

How come I dare to say that? Do I think that all the deaths are not real? Do I think that we are over the hospital emergency?
No, I do not think that at all! What our health care workers experience is definitely real and we definitely need to continue the work on easing the pressure they are under.

But we also need to be aware that Covid-19 is not the only health issue in this country. There are people avoiding hospitals that urgently should be seen and possibly operated. And we need to take into account that there is NO good justification for some of the restrictions and the renewed clamping down that gardai have announced for this coming weekend. There is a good justification for the physical distance, but NOT for the 2km radius for exercise and also not for the travel limitations (as long as you continue to keep the physical distance wherever you go to).

And if business life doesn’t continue in some shape of form, we will NOT be able to pay for the out of work aid that is being paid at the moment and we will NOT even be able to keep financing the hospitals. Heck, we were not able to finance hospitals sufficiently to avoid overcrowding when the economy was going well, so how can it be possible when the economy has stopped?

I am NOT talking about a “getting back to normality”, but I am talking about moving out of emergency shutdown mode into a emergency handling mode in the same way as these other European countries do it.

And YES, it could happen that we will get back into lockdown mode again for another 2 weeks or so. Maybe even a few times. And that is absolutely ok, but we now need to work on a plan for getting out and I am not sure we can trust the people who are currently in charge to have the ability to do that in a reasonable way.


I should mention something else as well and I have to admit that it influenced my opinion a good bit. It is a very important aspect and maybe I should put up a separate post about this, because it is VERY surprising:

The deaths that we are currently experiencing is the only reliable number. We don’t know in a lot of cases if a death was caused by Covid-19 or not and for the dead person or his/her family it is not even relevant. But we know that these deaths are real! The ridiculous and brutal restriction to just 10 family member at a funeral, no matter how big the church or funeral venue is is also real and there is not the slightest justification for it. Thanks NPHET for one of exceptionally nonsensical rules!
But I discovered something else this week and I have not found ANYBODY writing or talking about it!!

There is a European Project that has the cute name “EuroMOMO”, but is not cute at all. EuroMOMO is a European mortality monitoring activity, so they cound the number of deaths that happen in Europe. And the goal of EuroMOMO is to detect and measure excess deaths related to seasonal influenza, pandemics and other public health threats.

So, the 24 participating countries report their number of deaths to EuroMOMO and EuroMOMO creates graphics and reports to show if and to what degree the deaths in a certain period of time are above or below the “normal” death rate. In normal years the deaths that are above the normal death rate are considered as influenza deaths if they happen between October and May. EuroMOMO has a lot of graphs and stats on their website, but the most relevant is the Z-scores by country and you should have a look at that here www.euromomo.eu/graphs-and-maps/#z-scores-by-country

The results are shown on a time graph and the Z-score shows by how much the current number of deaths varies from the normal number of deaths. In Belgium, France, Italy, Netherlands, Spain and UK you see a significant peak. That shows that they are having significant more deaths than in normal years.

But now check Ireland! And you will be surprised to see that Ireland has LESS deaths in this Covid-19 period than it would be normal this time of the year. LESS!!!

I have no idea why that is, maybe it is because there are less other hospital operations. Maybe because there are less accidents because people stay at home. Maybe the fact that people avoid going to hospital if they have some other issues, keeps them alive longer? I have no clue! It also doesn’t mean – and I repeat that on purpose again – that Covid-19 is not happening or that it is harmless or that it is just like a normal flu. NO! That is all nonsense! And the numbers in other countries clearly show that. But if our excess mortality at the moment is lower than normal, then maybe the 1014 deaths (as of yesterday) are at least in Ireland, just normality. And if that is the case then we have to continue keeping the virus under control by keeping a physical distance, but we have to wonder if the current lockdown is justified in its current form!

Soooo, can we trust the people in charge? What do you think?

 
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