In April last year, the Irish government announced it was spending a record €9.6 billion on a €1.3 billion programme to combat the spread of the coronavirus.
The funds were to be spent on public awareness campaigns and public health projects across the country, with a focus on areas such as water and air pollution, as well as prevention and treatment.
The Irish government has since said that the project was aimed at reducing the number of coronaviruses that were circulating in Ireland.
However, a new study published in the American Journal of Public Health, which examined the effect of the programme on deaths, hospitalisation and infection rates in the Republic of Ireland, suggests the government’s efforts to reduce coronaviral disease have failed to achieve the same impact.
The researchers, led by Dr Richard Gifford of Harvard University, found that the coronavalvirus prevention programme that the Irish authorities were running had resulted in a significant reduction in the number and severity of infections, while also having a significant impact on mortality rates.
They also found that deaths from the coronavia were on the decline, and that deaths in hospital were also lower in the wake of the anti-COVID campaign.
The study, published in a peer-reviewed journal by the American College of Preventive Medicine, compared the effectiveness of a similar programme in the UK, where the number one killer was alcohol, and in the US, where alcohol was the top killer.
“Our study found that in the United States, the number 1 killer is alcohol, while in Ireland, alcohol is the number 2 killer,” Dr Giffords said.
“The result was that, in Ireland [the prevention programme] did not have the same effect on coronavid and non-COVA deaths as in the U.S., and that was because of the lower levels of alcohol consumption in Ireland.”
The researchers analysed the death rates in each country, and compared the numbers of deaths in each county in each year to a baseline number of cases.
They then compared these figures to the number deaths in the year before the anti the COVID campaign was launched.
They found that alcohol consumption was higher in Ireland than in the other two countries, but was still relatively low compared to the U, UK, and the US.
“Overall, the reduction in deaths is a small effect, but not statistically significant,” Dr Gabriele De Angelis, the lead author of the study, told The Irish Post.
“Even if the UK is an outlier in terms of its overall mortality, it has only one of the countries shown to have been more vulnerable than Ireland, and Ireland is still in the top three countries.”
Dr De Angeli added that the research found that even after accounting for alcohol consumption, the anti COVID programme still did not achieve the level of reduction needed to keep coronavids under control.
“It is clear that prevention measures such as the one that was introduced in Ireland are not sufficient to reduce the overall coronavadosis mortality, and may be responsible for leading to a higher death rate than was expected,” he said.
Dr Guffords added that despite the fact that the anti coronavvirus campaign has been successful in reducing coronavires infections in Ireland over the past few years, he did not think that it was the end of the road for the anti public health campaign.
“We are still in a phase of COVID prevention.
The problem is that COVID remains the number two killer and is not going away,” he added.
“This will only be a problem when we have a pandemic.
We need to be doing more, and we need to do it in a more effective way.”
The authors are now working with the National Centre for Public Health Research and Health in Ireland to look into whether the programme has been effective at preventing coronavirectomies.
They are also working with local authorities to ensure that there are enough resources available to them to ensure a safe environment for their staff and patients.
“While this is good news for Ireland, the situation will be different in other countries where the COVA epidemic is spreading rapidly,” Dr DeAngelis said.
More to come.
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