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New health group calls for Nphet to be disbanded

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Prof Lambert is the most high profile of signatories to the group’s white paper. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Prof Lambert is the most high profile of signatories to the group’s white paper. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Prof Lambert is the most high profile of signatories to the group’s white paper. Photo: Steve Humphreys

A group of GPs and other medical professionals who are calling for an end to lockdown and questioning Nphet's health advice are demanding an urgent meeting with the Government.

A group consisting of mainly GPs - including former Fianna Fáil minister Jim McDaid and the Mater Hospital's infectious disease expert Professor Jack Lambert - has signed a "white paper" questioning what it calls Ireland's "outdated" public health strategies in response to Covid-19.

Many of the signatories are part of a newly formed group, named Covid Recovery - A Scientific Approach, that includes 67 doctors and 100 scientists. Cavan-based GP Michael McConville is a member of the group and was involved in the development of its white paper.

His daughter, who lost her job during Covid-19, has set up a GoFundMe page for the group. It has raised over €9,000, which is to be used for her employment within the organisation.

Dr McConville, who agreed the vast majority of its supporters have no background in epidemiology, claimed Nphet should be "disbanded".

"We are now seeking an urgent meeting with Government to tell them they need to disband Nphet. The Government needs to widen itself to a wider discipline of experts," he told this newspaper.

"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."

Dr McConville insisted "Nphet's focus is too narrow" and the Government should consider other experts including engineers, mathematicians and statisticians to interpret Covid data.

Dr McConville maintained that lockdowns have "no effect on mortality rates" and attempts to stop infection rates are futile and "like trying to stop the tide".

He also added that he was "gravely concerned" for the overall health of his patients who currently cannot access critical screening and treatments because of Covid-19. In its white paper, the group suggests we should end lockdowns and begin "intensive protection of the vulnerable".

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The group also claims that the "enormous and disproportionate cost" of lockdowns "grows worse by the day".

A "fixation" on the virus has led to "the worst cost-benefit of a public health intervention in living memory", the group claims, with lockdown "significantly undermining" elements of public health and increasing the gap between rich and poor.

The paper proposes the "safe reopening" of colleges, the hospitality industry and allowing foreign travel. The group also calls for an end to daily government briefings on case numbers and the "re-establishment of balance in the media in terms of healthy scientific debate".

Prof Lambert is the most high profile of signatories to the group's white paper.

He has been an outspoken critic of lockdowns, and the government approach to tackling the disease, for several months.

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