Simon Harris claims there has been "18 other coronaviruses" before Covid-19 in major radio error
"Remember this is coronavirus, Covid-19. That means there have been 18 other coronaviruses..."
Minister for Health Simon Harris made a slip-up on radio on Wednesday morning after claiming that there has been 18 other coronaviruses before Covid-19, seemingly implying that Covid-19 must be the 19th wave of the virus.
Appearing on 2FM Breakfast with Doireann and Eoghan on Wednesday morning, Harris said: "But remember this is coronavirus, Covid-19. That means there have been 18 other coronaviruses and I don’t think they have actually successfully found a vaccine for any… For now, I think you would have to presume that a vaccine is about another year away."
For clarity, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has stated that Covid-19 stands for: Corona (CO) Virus (VI) Disease (D) and 19 (2019), the year that the virus first hit.
Harris' comments provoked a wide reaction on social media, but the Minister for Health has yet to respond.
A similar error occurred on Fox News in the US recently, where Counsellor to the President, Kellyanne Conway, said: "This is Covid-19, not Covid-1 folks, and so you would think the people in charge of the World Health Organisation, facts and figures, would be on top of that."
Elsewhere in the interview, Harris said that he expects restrictions to be eased soon, but that all of them could not be lifted today or "thousands of people would die".
"What I am hoping to see on the 5 May is some tweaking of the restrictions but also a plan as to what the next phase might look like because we have to give people hope and a plan as to how we are going to get out of this but it is going to take a period of time.
"Because let’s be clear if we were to lift the restrictions today thousands and thousands of people would die."