Tomás Ó Flatharta

Looking at Things from the Left

“What Use Is it to Teach People About the Evil of Overcrowding When Their Wages Will Not Permit Them A Decent House?” – James Connolly in 1915

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James Connolly in 1915 ridicules “Medical Authorities” advice on combating a TB Epidemic – 105 Years Later, in 2020, Irish “Medical Authorities” Follow the Same Script. It is the same in most other countries.

The Chief Medical Officer has said the National Public Health Emergency Team has entered the weekend with a growing sense of concern about compliance with the strict travel restrictions and social distancing measures that been in place since 27 March.

Dr Tony Holohan said compliance with the restrictions over the next ten days was critical to the control of the coronavirus.

He said the sense of concern among his team has been growing over the last week as evidence of some slackening of adherence social restrictions materialised.

He said the situation remained that he would not currently recommend the restrictions be relaxed given the behaviour of the disease.

Notes on Misery and Mortality :

We are all fully aware that we cannot have it all, and that every policy choice (just like every personal one) involves weighing up competing objectives to reach an overall decision. As we think about future strategies on physical distancing and infection control, which will involve judgments about which groups of people to “release” first and in what ways, we need to see the gainers and losers in terms of both mortality risks and misery hits.

Do the health and wellbeing effects of recommending older adults to take outdoor physical exercise outweigh the infection risk arising from this? Are the wellbeing effects of physical social contact among younger people worth potential infection risks in different scenarios? Answers to these questions are matters of judgment not fact, but facts on both mortality and misery are urgently needed if we are to make ethically defensible decisions. Governments must formally embed mental health impacts into their scenario planning.

Liam Delaney is professor of economics at UCD and Paul Dolan is professor of behavioural science at the London School of Economics

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