The Government and a pandemic


Sir, – It is a truth universally acknowledged that the Government’s decision to ease the Covid-19 restrictions in December was a catastrophic mistake.

Stephen Collins is quite correct to point this out in his column “State’s response to virus compares well with elsewhere” (Opinion & Analysis, January 29th), which otherwise praises the Government’s handling of the pandemic.

It would, however, be useful to ask why did the Government make this mistake.

The answer is simple. It gave in to the powerful vested interests in Irish life that were clamouring for an easing of the restrictions under the slogan “Save Christmas”, a wafer-thin euphemism for “Save our Christmas profits”.

We are all now paying the price for the irresponsible lobbying that these vested interests engaged in – and they are now silent while the country endures the consequences of their lobbying. They regret nothing, and no doubt they will soon break their silence with further campaigns to “Save Easter”, “Save the Summer”, etc.

In the face of such pressure in the coming months, the Government should remember – as it failed to do in December – that its priority must be to save lives. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 18.

Sir, – Stephen Collins suggests that our Government’s handling of the Covid-19 crisis has been good in comparison with that of the UK, Italy and Spain. In effect, the argument is that we are good because we are better than below-average comparators. This kind of reasoning is all too prevalent in the Dublin bubble of establishment media and national politicians. It is indicative of a mindset of acceptable underperformance, which, in this crisis, has perilous consequences. – Yours, etc,



Professor of Economics,

University College Cork.

Sir, – Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly admits that the 700,000 people vaccination target by March 31st is unlikely to be met but seems to blame shortfalls in the supply from AstraZeneca for this situation (News, January 29th). However, a review of the latest HSE vaccination figures up to January 27th shows a very different likely cause.

As of January 27th, the HSE reports that 161,500 doses have been administered in the 29 days since the first vaccination on December 29th, a daily average of 5,569 vaccinations.

With 63 days to the end of March and a vaccination target of 700,000 people and 1.4 million vaccinations, an average daily vaccination rate of 19,659 needs to be achieved between now and then, a 250 per cent increase from the current rate.

Without such an increase, based on the current daily rate we can expect only 275,000 people to have been vaccinated by March 31st, well short of the 700,000 people target and completely separate from any supply problems associated with AstraZeneca. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 15.