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29th Apr 2023

Tony Holohan says media attempted to “oversimplify” pandemic response

Rory Fleming

Tony Holohan

The former Chief Medical Officer also stated that there was no “silver bullet” which could have stopped the pandemic.

Speaking on Friday at the Royal College of Surgeons’ (RCSI) Medical Professionalism Conference, Dr. Tony Holohan said that Irish media tried to “oversimplify” Covid-19, and that “no pandemic plan” could have readied the country for the crisis.

The former Chief Medical Officer (CMO) also stated that the media had pushed “seductively simple solutions” over the course of pandemic in an attempt to “rush simple answers to complicated and complex questions”.

Dr. Holohan served as Ireland’s CMO for a 14 year period between 2008-2022. (Credit: Rolling News)

During the Covid-19 pandemic, Dr. Holohan was often criticised for an allegedly over-cautious approach to handling the crisis, at times even butting heads with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar on the contentious topic of lockdowns.

Dr. Holohan, who is set to pen a memoir reflecting on his role in the Government’s pandemic response, also spoke to his wishes that a more straightforward solution would have presented itself.

“We would all have loved to find the silver bullet which would allow us to return to how things were, avoiding the health and wider impacts that came from the illness itself. But the reality is far more complex”.

With the Covid-19 virus being one of the first truly global pandemics of the 21st century, Dr. Holohan acknowledged a lack of preparedness on behalf of the Government, saying that Covid-19 “exploited upstream weaknesses in planning and in operational responses to health emergencies”.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar clashed with Dr. Holohan over the issue of lockdowns during the Government’s pandemic response. (Credit: Rolling News)

“There was no pandemic plan that could have predicted what we’ve witnessed over the last two or more years. Neither could we find solutions through pre-existing and well-established rational decision making procedures”, remarked the former CMO.

Dr. Holohan served as the Government’s CMO from 2008 until his retirement last year, and given this knowledge of the Irish health service, he was asked his thoughts on the recent removal of mask mandates in hospitals.

“I have great confidence in the people making those decisions”, stated Dr. Holohan.

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