In January 2020, health officials from the Chinese Centre for Disease Control published a large study on Covid-19 cases.
It confirmed that age was the greatest risk factor for severe complications from the virus.
At the time of publication, Covid-19 was in its infancy in Europe, the US and Canada.
While some people have criticised the Chinese government for not being entirely transparent throughout this crisis, the publication of this study gave the international community ample warning that older people would be most at risk.
Yet, at the end of March, almost three months after the Chinese publication, soldiers entered a residential home in Madrid. To their dismay, they found a number of residents who had been abandoned and others dead.
Some of these residents had been in the care facility for more than six years. This was their home.
A month later in Montreal, one of the most civilised and sophisticated cities in the world, authorities entered a residential home to find patients left soiled and malnourished, after caregivers fled the premises following 31 deaths in a few weeks.
In Ireland, Spain and Italy, deaths in residential homes account for more than 50pc of fatalities.
As late as April 29, there was no official record in the US of Covid deaths in the nursing home sector. Similarly in the UK, data from care homes is still incomplete.
Contrast the condition of nursing homes around the world with acute hospitals.
Detailed planning for hospitals began in January so they could cope with the escalation of the pandemic. Elective hospital attendances and surgeries were cancelled. This increased bed and nursing capacity.
Governments around the world did everything they could to prepare hospitals for the pandemic and to a country, ignored nursing homes.
On Wednesday, the UK government acknowledged they had prioritised hospitals over care homes. Why?
There are five practical reasons we can point to, but running underneath them lies something, if not quite sinister, then at least shameful.
On the practical side; first, most homes are under private ownership with no overarching clinical governance.
Second, the physical infrastructure in some nursing homes did not lend itself to sufficient infection control.
Third, the rapid increase in the number of sick patients put pressure on an already insufficient workforce, compounded when staff became ill.
Fourth, contract cleaning staff and agency nurses, moved between nursing homes, facilitating the rapid spread of infection.
Finally, all around the world, nursing homes couldn't get access to enough PPE, which went to hospitals instead.
But what is the deeper issue here? Has ageism played a part in the nursing home deaths?
As a professor of medical gerontology, I am regularly asked whether there is evidence that the ageist response to the nursing home sector during Covid-19 was intentional. I am loathe to say so, and to my knowledge there is no evidence of this.
But perhaps there may have been a latent ageist attitude.
Ageism is particularly prevalent in healthcare systems which determine whether people receive treatments based on age. For example, many countries applied age cut-offs rather than medical criteria for Covid treatments.
The wagons have now been circled around nursing homes, and while it's tragically too late for many, we have a better understanding of how to protect patients.
However, I am deeply concerned about the effect banning visitors continues to have on residents. Our disregard for the suffering this causes must end.
To date, the conversation has been focused on blaming chief medical officer Tony Holohan for acting too late in banning visitors from nursing homes. But let's think about the effect of that ban.
We forget that there are two aspects to a nursing home - the nursing and the home.
Too often we focus on nursing and forget that we're supposed to make the environment as close as possible to a home.
This is hard enough at the best of times, in an understaffed, undervalued and poorly paid sector.
Banning all visitors made this so much worse for the more than 25,000 people in Ireland who call a nursing home their home.
Residents' only contact with the outside world is through methods often alien to them.
Skype and FaceTime might be second nature to many of us, but not necessarily to patients in a nursing home.
The ban caused guilt, anguish, fear, frustration and worry for everyone involved.
Given that Professor Holohan stated that visitors were not the cause of infection in nursing homes, and this has been affirmed by research in the UK, we should open up the sector to visitors as a matter of urgency.
And let's start now to reform care systems for older citizens.
The Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has promised to do so and I firmly welcome that.
Let's cast out the old attitudes and redundant policies and implement a new, intelligent, kinder evidence-based model, fit for purpose for current and future generations.
Pearse Traynor also contributed to this article
Rose Anne Kenny ia professor of medical gerontology at Trinity College Dublin