Micheal Donnelly, who writes a health column was born and bred in Andersonstown, educated at Scolie Mhuire, and studied medicine in Queen's before fleeing across the Lisburn Road to BT9.
He undertook further training in epidemiology at Oxford RHA/University and Harvard Summer School. He rose to be Deputy Director of Heartbeat Wales. In semi-retirement he has been helping out with the pandemic and writing about its implications for health. Micheal is part of a cadre of public health doctors who have been commenting on the pandemic. He splits his time between Belfast and Durham.
There have been two further Covid-19 deaths and an additional 89 cases until Tuesday. This makes 117,676 cases and 2,118 deaths so far.
With the SSE Arena mass vaccine centre opening, Moderna vaccine expected from the United States towards the end of April, Glaxo to fill the Novartis vaccine and the expectation to send vaccine south, our thoughts may now turn to the long effects of Covid and how it might effect our health and social care services.
As I write, we have reached the first anniversary of lockdown or quarantine, as we used to call it in the old parlance.
Last week the Stormont Health Committee received a briefing from the chair of the Inter-departmental Working Group on Mother and Baby Institutions, Judith Gillespie, a departmental briefing on waiting lists and waiting times, on Severe Fetal Impairment Abortion (Amendment) Bill and SR 2021/39 The Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel) (Amendment No 7) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2021.
With schools returning in a phased way, we have turned another corner in the pandemic. Last week the Stormont Health Committee received a Ministerial update on the Covid-19 Disease Response from Health Minister Robin Swann and the Chief Medical Officer.
Outdoor relief at last. The Executive surprisingly has agreed and premises where customers cannot drink alcohol and outdoor sports facilities will be amongst the first to open in their pathways out of the pandemic strategy.
Last week the Health Committee at Stormont considered Covid disease responses. However, with the publication of Boris’ road map out of the pandemic they might not have expected the responses from First Minister Arlene Foster and Education Minister Peter Weir.
Nine deaths, 341 new cases, 474 in hospital, 54 in intensive care and 25 per cent of adults vaccinated with the first dose. Thus stand our metrics on 16 February but the Republic is equal in second doses using Pfizer and Moderna vaccines and confident of catching up by the end of the summer.
The advent of vaccine nationalism and the decline of the popularity of the DUP to 19 per cent with Sinn Féin the most popular party at 24 per cent are not unconnected.
The deployment of British military medical technicians and nursing assistants has created a blip on our pandemic monitoring screens.
The arrival in GB, at least, of the French vaccine Valneva underlines that the pandemic and Brexit are inextricably intertwined when it comes to quarantine regulations, vaccine supply and more recently food on our shelves.
With dire predictions from Dr Anne Kilgannon of the Western Trust and Dr Michael McBride of the Department of Health, there are little signs of the pandemic relenting.
As we end the Christmas holidays, there is no sign of the pandemic receding with cases rising above 600 cases per 100,000 and bed occupancies in hospitals nearing 100 per cent.
The words of the song ‘Two Worlds Collide’ are being enacted in front of us with the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn, not seen since well before the Battle of the Boyne, in 1623.
On Thursday past, the Health Committee at Stormont heard from the Minister, Robin Swann from the Chief Medical Officer, Dr Michael McBride, and from the newly-in-post Mrs Patricia Donnelly who is co-ordinating the Covid vaccination programme.