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Don’t Look Up: Forget ‘Don’t Look Up’ – It won’t be lone scientists who are warning us about an apocalyptic event | USA

Voice Of EU



In 1988, an astronomer felt the need to warn the world that the apocalypse was at hand, or at least could be. On behalf of the International Astronomical Union, scientist Brian Marsden broadcast that asteroid 1997-XF11, which measured 1,500 meters in diameter, would pass within 40,000 kilometers of Earth on October 26, 2028. It would graze us and a catastrophic impact could not be ruled out. This is the closest we have come to experiencing the scenario in the movie Don’t Look Up, recently released on Netflix: a PhD student played by Jennifer Lawrence discovers that a comet is on a catastrophic collision course with Earth, and together with her professor, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, she tries to warn an indifferent world.

The filmmakers took advice from one of NASA’s lead asteroid hunters, Amy Mainzer, and the movie is faithful to what such an event would be like – aside from the fact that such a problem would not be in the hands of two desperate scientists acting in a vacuum.

First off, the film is a comedy, although many have taken it seriously. It uses black humour and allegory to address our response to the climate crisis and, to an extent, Covid-19. According to the film’s director, Adam McKay, and its protagonist, Leonardo DiCaprio, “it’s about our inability to listen to scientific truths.” What happens if a comet the size of Everest comes towards Earth (climate crisis) and nobody cares? If an astronomer discovered that a gigantic space rock was going to wipe out life on the planet, what would actually happen?

Chelyabinsk, Russia, February 15, 2013. A meteorite falls in the Urals. More than 500 people were injured by the fragments. The event caused massive damage and panic among the population.
Chelyabinsk, Russia, February 15, 2013. A meteorite falls in the Urals. More than 500 people were injured by the fragments. The event caused massive damage and panic among the population.Yekaterina Pustynnikova (AP Photo /

“The way in which the discovery is depicted, aside from these observations and a few months of margin, is, I think, impeccable,” says astronomer Josep Maria Trigo, from the Institute of Space Sciences (CSIC-IEEC). “It would happen this way given these circumstances.” One night, home alone with her computer, Lawrence’s character picks up on an object hurtling through space which turns out to be a nine-kilometer comet. She passes the information to her astronomy professor (DiCaprio) in class and he proceeds to make calculations that lead to the inevitable conclusion that it will hit Earth with almost 100% certainty in six months. Humanity is doomed.

According to Julia de León, a specialist at the Canaries Institute of Astrophysics (IAC), those initial scenes are the least convincing. “First we make the discovery and an initial estimate of the orbit, which allows us to predict future impact probabilities, but with enormous margins of error,” she says. As the object is observed, an attempt is made to determine its position at various points in its orbit. “What tends to happen in the vast majority of cases is that, as you narrow it down, the margin of error becomes very small and the probabilities of impact are reduced to ridiculous amounts,” she adds.

But this is not always the case. When the asteroid Apophis was discovered in 2004, in what would have been a tense Christmas for astronomers, they began to seek ways to better calculate its route, which appeared to be direct to Earth. The more data came in, the more the risk of collision increased, as engineer María Eugenia Sansaturio explained at the time: it stood at 3% for 2036. Two years later, however, the danger was reduced to a minimum, and in 2013 it was finally ruled out.

Jonah Hill, Leonardo DiCaprio, Meryl Streep and Jennifer Lawrence, in 'Don’t Look Up.'
Jonah Hill, Leonardo DiCaprio, Meryl Streep and Jennifer Lawrence, in ‘Don’t Look Up.’

Back then, the current international collaboration networks did not exist, nor the protocols that are currently being tested. Last April in Vienna, during the 7th Planetary Defense Conference, a simulation of the discovery of a dangerous asteroid took place: 2021 PDC would fall in a Central European region in six months. The trajectory and probability of collision was calculated and communicated by the International Asteroid Warning Network (IAWN), which is composed of organizations such as NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Chinese Academy of Sciences. At the same time, the Space Mission Planning Advisory Group (SMPAG) would begin to study the possibilities of intercepting or deflecting the asteroid.

The conference featured a paper titled “They don’t believe Covid, will they believe the asteroid impact?” by Austrian astronomers that lends credibility to the Netflix movie along with another titled “What can the Covid-19 pandemic teach the planetary defense community?” Scientists are aware that, as McKay suggests, there is more resistance to science in society than is desirable. The polarization of the pandemic and its deniers forced McKay to make his argument “20% crazier, because reality had played out crazier than the script.

Both the Network IAWN and the SMPAG were created in 2014 on the insistence of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs, led by astrophysicist and astronautics expert Simonetta di Pippo. Now, data collection is coordinated, calculations are verified before being disseminated, and all countries on the planet are made aware of the existential risk. “When there is a risk, we always work in collaboration,” explains De León. “There is an international monitoring network rather than one astronomer or one country. We have to cooperate, observe from the northern and southern hemisphere, have all flanks covered.”

Illustration showing Bennu and other asteroids. NASA
Illustration showing Bennu and other asteroids. NASANASA

Consequently, countless scientists and organizations will know of any news and it would not be down to those who first discovered anything treacherous to spread the word. For several years now, both NASA and ESA have respective heads of Planetary Defense: Lindley Johnson and Detlef Koschny. If Simonetta di Pippo appears with these men on television, it will be a fairly reliable sign that something of note is going on.

“To be surprised by an object of that size would be very rare,” says De León. “They are practically all located: we know where they go and none has a probability other than zero in the next 100 years.” Those are the ones that would put humanity in a bind, more than 95% of which were located due to a US Senate mandate. However, those which are not apocalyptic, but merely terrifying, are not so controlled. “Things start to get interesting with those that are between 100 meters and one kilometer [like Apophis], because that size range is the least well-mapped; we only know of 30%,” she admits.

This summer, NASA announced at a press conference that it had calculated in as much detail as possible the trajectory of asteroid Bennu, a 500-meter rock. It announced that there was an “extremely small” chance – 0.057% – that it would reach Earth on September 24, 2182. In this case, the probabilities were minor and distant in time, but it was announced anyway because NASA had “visited” Bennu, had taken samples and had the data.

A scene from the movie 'Deep Impact' in which a comet threatens to destroy Earth.
A scene from the movie ‘Deep Impact’ in which a comet threatens to destroy Earth. Paramount

But if the risk were above 1% in the next 50 years, things would change. Alerts would be activated and, of course, those who discovered the risk would not be personally responsible for raising the alarm, as Trigo points out: “The communication aspect is lame in the film,” he says. “Obviously the data is verified by more experts and they [Lawrence and DiCaprio] have a protagonism that they wouldn’t have in reality.” Countries that discover any high-risk object are legally obliged to report it, according to the UN Office. ESA, for example, is required to review it with an independent entity such as NASA, publicize an impact warning, and share it with IAWN.

In the movie, the chance of impact is close to 100%. But, according to De León, “if there were a high risk, the international community would be on the move to observe it and within a continuous week of observations we would be fine-tuning that risk to a great extent. It’s possible that as you observe an approaching object, you might see that it will impact. Fortunately, this has not yet happened to us.”

In 1998, it was Morgan Freeman in the role of the calm and transcendental President Beck who warned of the lethal impact of a comet in the movie Deep Impact. That same year, in the real world, Brian Marsden, the astronomer who issued the warning about asteroid 1997-XF11, was given a hard time, as The New York Times flagged up recently: his warning was based on a single calculation that did not take into account all the variables. The next day, NASA put out a clarifying statement: “The chances of it hitting our planet are currently zero,” said astronomer Don Yeoman, who recalculated the asteroid’s orbit. “Why was the press release out there before the data was presented and consulted with colleagues? I don’t know.” Two decades later, such an announcement would be much better thought out and consensual. In fiction, however, they have traded Freeman’s sobriety for Lawrence and DiCaprio’s desperation, which could well be a sign of the times.

Why a comet?

Director Adam McKay and his advisor, asteroid specialist Amy Mainzer, have revealed in The New Yorker that Mainzer suggested reducing the size of the comet in the movie from the original 32 to nine kilometers, so that it would actually be possible to do something about it. “I said, ‘No, no – if it’s too big, people just throw up their hands,’ ” Mainzer told the magazine.

But when Mainzer proposed that they should have years to act, rather than just six months, McKay was not convinced. The director wanted a response to be urgent and unpostponable. “I can tell you that we wouldn’t have the capacity to react to avoid such a collision: with only six months, we’re toast,” says De León. “It would be impossible,” agrees Trigo. Both De León and Trigo participate in NASA’s DART mission, which for the first time in history will try to deflect an asteroid by hitting it with a space probe. In 2024, ESA’s Hera probe will test whether it was a success. It is important to note, of course, that this is only a test – the asteroid they intend to deflect is not coming this way.

Although the large objects are almost all controlled, it is not impossible that we could get a scare with as little as six months warning, or less. The 17-meter, 10,000-ton asteroid that tore through the atmosphere over Chelyabinsk was spotted when it was already upon us and was a once-in-100-year event. “There are all kinds of objects that have been dropped on us as soon as we’ve discovered them – obscure objects, with eccentric orbits, that give us very few weeks of margin,” Trigo points out. Regarding asteroid 2015-TB145, a 600-meter, 300-million-ton fragment detached from a comet, we had only three weeks of margin before impact.

Perhaps that is why in both Don’t Look Up and the 2020 cataclysmic movier Greenland, directed by Ric Roman Waugh and released on Amazon Prime, the space object that hits us is a comet. “A large object that is a global destroyer as the movies paint it, is more likely to be a comet because we have already located the large asteroids,” says De León. “From time to time we discover new comets, with eccentric orbits, coming from very distant regions.”

Meanwhile, Trigo explains that comets have unpredictable movements because the gas and dust currents cause them to have very unstable trajectories. “It is a much more improbable phenomenon than an asteroid, with a frequency of one billion years; highly improbable. But if it impacts, it does so with greater energy, because of those eccentric orbits, and has an enormous destructive capacity. As in the movie, it would cause devastation on a global scale,” he says.

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Beattie faces long road to redemption after offensive tweets emerge

Voice Of EU



In The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Robert Louis Stevenson’s Gothic tale, the civilised Jekyll, fascinated by the duality of his personality, manages to embody his evil side in the depraved Hyde, then finds he cannot control the transition between the two. Hyde runs amok. That’s Doug Beattie’s twitter account, firing out messages full of attitudes and prejudices that the Jekyll side of Beattie, the man attempting to modernise the Ulster Unionist Party, claims he never had.

Last Saturday, Beattie was all over the front pages with a beaming photo, the only party leader to get a good rating in the new opinion poll. He was in soaring form. “They couldn’t have picked a smugger picture,” he tweeted, with laugh-till-you-cry emojis. That night, still buoyant, he tweeted the now infamous joke that has led to him being sued by the Democratic Unionist Party’s former leader, Edwin Poots. It involved the wives of unionist party leaders, brothels and bodily odours, and many who read it recoiled, then told him it was awful.

Jekyll Beattie responded: ‘Awful, just awful… I’m ashamed… I can’t justify that… horrendous, horrific… I’ve no excuse…’

Beattie took it down, apologised, said he had not meant to cause offence. But the truffle hunters of twitter had a scent. Soon they had snuffled out a haul of Beattie tweets that paraded every offensive stereotype in the charge book. Most dated back to the years 2011-2014, when he was a British army captain in his 40s.

Most were meant to be funny but could only have amused sexists, racists or those indifferent to people not exactly like them. Some were salacious, though more 1960s Benny Hill creepy than 2018 Belfast rape trial nasty. They featured schoolgirls’ skirts, “hookers”, randy, drunken Gurkhas, and humourless feminists with hairy chins. Other tweets held forth on the inability of women, foreigners and people from minority ethnic groups to do things properly. Leave it to the white man.

The next photos of Beattie to appear were of a man humiliated and almost broken. In a statement, now pinned to his twitter feed, he acknowledged and apologised for misogyny, said he was ashamed and embarrassed, and vowed to do better. He embarked on a series of media interviews. He was alone. No press officers, no advisors. He told BBC Northern Ireland’s Stephen Nolan, “My confidence is gone.” But there was something strange about his penance. He was contrite, though he did keep trying to consign Hyde Beattie to history, even though he had sallied forth just last weekend. Nolan read out the tweets. Jekyll Beattie responded: “Awful, just awful… I’m ashamed… I can’t justify that… horrendous, horrific… I’ve no excuse…” But he also professed bewilderment: “I am not the person who was portrayed in those tweets… it’s not me… even ten years ago it is not who I was.” He was adamant that he was “no racist”.

Offence is not the worst outcome of misogyny and racism. These prejudices inform behaviours that cause real and profound harm

When Nolan offered his distraught interviewee the option of pleading post-traumatic stress given his military postings to war zones in Afghanistan and elsewhere, Beattie allowed that on returning from environments in which there was “toxic testosterone”, “you decompress, you desensitise”. He spoke of using “dark humour” which was not, he said, meant to cause offence. But offence is not the worst outcome of misogyny and racism. These prejudices inform behaviours that cause real and profound harm. A climate is created, and denied. It is disempowering. People have to waste energy fighting it, energy that others use to thrive.

Put Captain Beattie’s jokes in context. In 2009 a young black man joined the British army. He was awarded best recruit in his year and had high ambitions. But in 2013, after serving four years in Afghanistan, he quit. He had put up with a lot of “dark humour”, he said, but what started as banter had intensified into outright racism. Raising it with a superior officer made matters worse. “If you talked,” he said, “your career was screwed.” He was persuaded not to cite racial discrimination as his reason for leaving, and put down health reasons instead. In 2015 a young woman in the British navy reported a more senior officer for repeatedly groping her. She was ostracised and nothing was done. Another discovered in the course of leadership training that a male armoured commander would not take orders from her on the radio, “because I am a girl”. Women and black and minority ethnic personnel are under-represented in the British forces, and are repeatedly found to have been subjected to more bullying and harassment at work than white men.

On a BBC NI discussion last week the People Before Profit MLA Fiona Ferguson said that misogyny was institutionalised in Northern Ireland. It was rampant and faced by women on a daily basis. She mentioned bodily autonomy – the Ulster Unionist Party’s health minister continues to thwart implementation of the abortion law. She asked why women were consistently responsible for most caring roles, why they received lower pay than men. UUP veteran Chris McGimpsey said she was exaggerating. She accused him of mansplaining.

With 90 per cent of its MLAs men, it is no exaggeration to say the UUP is a male-dominated party. Beattie pointed to the work he has done to bring in progressive young women. In truth, he needs them to grow his party among those unionists who reject the hopelessly sexist and homophobic fundamentalism of the DUP. These women stood by him last week with more than the grim, stoical smiles of wives of public men who have done them wrong and been found out. But Beattie’s commitment to equality is also undermined on another front. He claims he supports the Belfast Agreement but refuses to declare whether or not he would work in an executive with a Sinn Féin first minister. Dr Jekyll has a lot of work to do.

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Latina singers: From flamenco to Spanglish: Why Rosalía’s latest album is causing a stir | USA

Voice Of EU



When Spanish singer Rosalía appeared live on Spain’s Cadena SER radio network to present her album El mal querer in November 2018, everyone wanted to see what she had to say. Even the crew of the radio program La Ventana were eagerly awaiting the interview, something that, according to radio presenter Carles Francino, had never happened before, not even with such distinguished guests as Spanish prime ministers, Nobel prize winners or the actor Richard Gere. Rosalía was 25 years old at the time and had two albums to her name. Her responses captivated the interviewers who praised her in hyperbolic terms, comparing the Barcelona-born artist to legendary Spanish copla singer Miguel de Molina. Francino said she had triumphed because she was “very good and very different” – paraphrasing the iconic Spanish poet Jaime Gil de Biedma.

And Francino wasn’t the only one to sing Rosalía’s praises. In a pre-recording, Martín Guerrero, the managing director of Casa Patas, a seminal flamenco venue in Madrid, said that Rosalía was “electrifying, thrilling and unique.” The comments section below the YouTube video of the interview, which has more than 500,000 views, is also filled with messages extolling the singer. “From her vocabulary and her way of thinking, I thought she was a very poised woman, who knows what she is saying when it comes to music and music history and knowledge. She is not your average girl. She is a genius,” one YouTube user wrote.

Francino, perhaps sensing what was about to happen to the pop star, brought the interview to an end with a request: “We are just asking you one thing, Rosalía: don’t change.” He could not have asked anything more difficult of her.

A little over three years later, the public is eagerly awaiting her third album, Motomami, which will be released sometime in 2022. Rosalía has given a preview of what’s to come, sharing snippets of songs such as Candy and Saoko on social media. But the single that has caught the most attention is Hentai, a slow ballad accompanied by piano whose lyrics have triggered bafflement and disbelief. The sexually explicit nature of the song and Rosalía’s use of Spanglish quickly became fodder for internet memes and jokes. In the 20-second clip of the track, Rosalía sings “Te quiero ride como a mi bike” or “I want to ride you like my bike.” The educated and cultured singer, who used to cite centuries-old poetry, sounded like someone completely different.

Rosalia during a concert with Raul Refree in Madrid in 2017.
Rosalia during a concert with Raul Refree in Madrid in 2017.Getty Images

“It’s as if the person who does the songs for [children’s band] CantaJuegos had come home drunk and horny and had opened a notepad,” wrote one Twitter user. “Rosalía is now making music by taking random words from the dictionary,” read another message. The backlash was so great that, a few hours later, Rosalía herself even tweeted about it. “The people who are upset about the lyrics in Hentai, are you okay?”

It has not been a sudden change. Since her debut album Los ángeles, in which the singer made reference to flamenco singers La Niña de los Peines and Enrique Morente, as well as the poet Federico García Lorca, to the explicit and visceral Hentai, five years have passed. In that period, Rosalía has gone from being 24 to 28 years old, and she has experienced a global pandemic that kept her in Miami and away from her family for the first time. She has traveled across Latin America and rubbed elbows with the leading figures of the international music scene. A few months ago, she released a collaboration called Linda with the Dominican rapper Tokischa. The lyrics of the feminist tune – “nos besamos pero somos homies” or “we kiss but we’re homies” – surprised her fans for its simplistic nature. “It’s true that there wasn’t a bad rhyme in her first two albums, her lyrics were excellent. In contrast, in her latest songs there are terrible rhymes,” says Jorge Carrión, the coordinator of the book La Rosalía, ensayos sobre el buen querer (or, Rosalía, essays on ‘el buen querer’).

Rosalía during a Madrid concert to close her tour for ‘El mal querer.’
Rosalía during a Madrid concert to close her tour for ‘El mal querer.’ Ricardo Rubio / Europa Press (Europa Press via Getty Images)

It’s impossible to separate Rosalía’s new music from her travels across the Americas, which she herself has documented in great detail. Like many other stars of today, she has opted to overshare on social media, where she uploads posts on every step she takes without any apparent communication strategy. Her surprising friendship with US personality Kylie Jenner and the rest of the Kardashian family, which appears to be very close, was one of the first shocks. We have seen her surrounded by entrepreneurs such as Dave Grutman and Jonathan Cheban, living an opulent lifestyle (Spain’s far-right Vox party accused her of being a millionaire and having a private plane) and alongside celebrities such as Christina Aguilera, Drake, Naomi Campbell and Hunter Schafer from the US hit series Euphoria.

Living in Miami, Rosalía has started to express herself like other Spanish singers who emigrated to the US before her, such as Julio Iglesias and Alejandro Sanz. The Argentinian newspaper Clarín described her accent as “indecipherable, a mix of Spanish, Catalan, Andalusian and Caribbean, riddled with words in English.” In an interview with a Dominican newspaper, Rosalía explained that her friendship with the Kardashians began when she started to hang out with Kendall in Los Angeles, which she named using the English acronym LA instead of the city’s full name as you do in Spanish.

Rosalía’s constant use of social media clashes with her previous image as an avant-garde artist who had released two albums exploring issues such as grief and gender violence. In her Instagram and TikTok accounts we see a cheerful, exhibitionist and sexual young woman, who often shares photos of herself half-naked and is seen with impossibly long fake nails and heavy makeup. She is obsessed with her pet chihuahua and loves cars and motorbikes – to such a degree that she bought a €60,000 pink-upholstered Ford Ranger Raptor with “La Rosalía” embossed in the headrests. Sometimes she takes on a certain childish attitude as if she were a character of one of the anime series she loves. On TikTok, she shared a photo with the message: “POV: When you steal Raul’s phone and it has FaceID.” The message, written in Spanish and containing spelling mistakes, was difficult to make sense of for those unaware of her relationship with singer Rauw Alejandro, which became public at the end of 2021.

This free-spirited image has left its mark on her music, both in her collaborations and what has been heard of Motomami. Even the name of the album appears to announce a new era that is lighter and fresher. In the video to announce the album launch, Rosalía can be seen covered in red glitter in a jeweled bikini, motorbike helmet and stilettos. The music in the clip is more reminiscent of other contemporary pop artists such as Charli XCX, SOPHIE, Arca or Grimes than of the flamenco which launched her career.

The debate around Rosalía’s transformation is not new. The jump from Los ángeles to El mal querer had already raised questions about whether the move from music that paid homage to traditional flamenco to music that was an explosive mix of genres with global reach was part of a sincere and organic transformation, or whether it hid a premeditated and commercial strategy. Rosalía has behind her a team of women, including her sister Pili, who is the artist’s stylist, her mother Pilar, the administrator of the company Motomami S.L., which manages the financial side of her career, and her manager Rebeca León, who is a superstar herself within the Latin music industry. But Rosalía has always defined herself as a controlling and detail-oriented artist who devises far-reaching projects. She even studied sound engineering in order to have greater control over the creative process. “I’m not doing it for mere strategic reasons, but rather taking into account the reason why I make music: to share it. The priority is to be connected to each moment that I am living and for this to be a means of communication, not a monologue,” she said in an interview with Spanish magazine MondoSonoro in 2018.

Despite his reservations, book coordinator Carrión is still interested in Rosalía’s latest project, which he describes as daring. “I sense that she has both discovered so many new popular genres in Latin America and what it means to be a global artist. She has begun to collaborate with the leading figures in reggaeton, trap and other urban music genres and that has led to a fusion [of styles],” he says. He agrees with Sara García, a comedian and the creator of the stand-up show Riot Comedy, who has been closely following Rosalía, her music and her relationship with Madrid-born singer C. Tangana for years. “She has pulled a ‘Miley Cyrus’ and is making songs that have nothing to do with the aesthetic, rhythms or soul of El mal querer. She is sending us signals that Motomami is not going to have anything to do with what we have seen before.”

Rosalia and Rauw Alejandro at the 40 Music Awards 2021 in Palma de Mallorca.
Rosalia and Rauw Alejandro at the 40 Music Awards 2021 in Palma de Mallorca.Europa Press News (Europa Press via Getty Images)

These signs were always there. Rosalía may be multifaceted and unable to be pigeon-holed, but if there is something that defines her it is the way she incorporates everything she knows into her music. Her first album was marked by her studies in flamenco, while the second mixed this knowledge with personal elements such as the R&B music she listened to as a teen and the sound of motorbikes, which her parents have always owned. When she reached success, she wrote Milionària in her native language, Catalan, and now she is writing about the volatility of fame and sexual pleasure with her partner. She also speaks of her own chameleon-like nature in Saoko (”A butterfly, I transform / Drag queen make-up, I transform”).

It’s likely that the reservations about her public image on social media, the people around her and the lyrics of her new songs are no more than a manifestation of prejudices, a generational gap and a certain amount of sexism. We are simply not used to seeing a genius being happy, naïve, sexual and exhibitionist and blowing kisses in photos next to Kylie Jenner. Rosalía’s greatest talent is in breaking the mold.

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Plan to cut hospital waiting lists as Covid eases being finalised by HSE

Voice Of EU



The Health Service Executive is finalising a multi-annual plan to cut hospital waiting lists, as Covid-19 pressures ease.

Chief executive Paul Reid said the plan will build on previous work done within the Slaintecare process and be ready “within weeks”.

The lifting of most restrictions earlier this month had given a great lift to health staff and the situation in hospitals and other services was now much better, Mr Reid told a media briefing on Thursday.

There were 711 patients with Covid-19 in hospital on Thursday, including 74 in ICU.

Some 53 per cent of patients with the virus were there because of Covid, while 47 per cent had been admitted for a different illness but were subsequently diagnosed with Covid, he said.

While this group is asymptomatic, the patients are also infectious, Mr Reid pointed out, and so require infection control measures.

About 4,800 HSE staff are off work due to Covid-19 infection or being a close contact, down 3,000 on two weeks ago.

Chief operating officer Anne O’Connor said hospitals are very busy, with attendances up 41 per cent last week on the same week last year, and 14 per cent on two years ago.

The use of surge capacity has increased and there were 571 delayed transfers of care last week.

Mr Reid enumerated the “learnings” made by the HSE over the period of the pandemic, which can now be built on for the future of the health service. There is greater integration between different services in acute public hospitals, the community and among GPs, pharmacies and private hospitals, he said.

In addition, the key role of public health teams came to the fore during the pandemic. Much had also been learned through the agility demonstrated by the health service during the pandemic, and there is now greater clarity on the role of the centre within the HSE as well as greater access for GPs to diagnostics.

Mr Reid said his priorities for the future were to build capability within the pandemic workforce and to prioritise waiting lists.

The multi-annual plan to improve access to care and reduce waiting lists will go to Government and the HSE board shortly, he said.

Other priorities include the further enhancement of community health networks, the consolidation of a single health service that includes the private sector as waiting lists are being addressed, and improved cybersecurity.

More than 200,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccine have expired as demand dropped and many people were unable to receive them due to recent infection, the briefing heard.

Asked whether he thought the pandemic was at an end, Mr Reid said no-one in healthcare was saying it was over. Yet the need for people to get back to normality was recognised, and there was never a more appropriate time for this than now.

Covid-19 might yet force a “recalibration” in the future but for now there was every reason to celebrate the lifting of restrictions.

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