HSE rejects comments from senior doctor saying Covid-19 'less severe' than annual flu

HSE rejects comments from senior doctor saying Covid-19 'less severe' than annual flu

Dr Martin Feeley said Covid-19 is "much less severe" than the average annual flu. Picture: File photo

The HSE has distances itself from comments made by one of its senior doctors.

A statement released this afternoon, said it rejects comments made by Dr Martin Feeley, clinical director of the Dublin Midlands Hospital Group about the Covid-19 pandemic.

In an interview with the Irish Times, Dr Feeley said Covid-19 is "much less severe" than the average annual flu.

He called the current restrictions "draconian" and said they were no longer justified.

Dr Feeley claimed people at low risk from the virus should be exposed to it in a bid to develop herd immunity and reduce the risk to vulnerable groups.

In the interview, Dr Feeley criticised what he called the media and public "obsession" with case numbers and said that current reporting on daily cases "borders on hysteria".

Dr Colm Henry, Chief Clinical Officer for the HSE said this afternoon: “For the avoidance of any doubt, the position as stated by Dr Feeley in the Irish Times today is not the position of the HSE on this important subject".

The statement from the HSE said: "This is a novel coronavirus for which there is no cure or vaccination currently and against which our population have no immunity.

"Herd immunity for an infectious disease occurs when a sufficient proportion of the population develops a sustained immunity either through vaccination or previous infection.

"Relying on infection, as we now know, has the power to overwhelm healthcare systems and lead to large-scale illness and death, particularly in vulnerable populations."

Citing the World Health Organisation, it said the threshold for establishing herd immunity is not yet clear. Neither is the duration of post-infection immunity known.

"The most effective way of protecting older people and vulnerable groups is not by expecting them to protect themselves, but by everybody adhering to the public health advice which that will limit transmission of the virus between individuals and households," the statement said.

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