01 Oct 2022

New Covid-19 advisory group set up by Government- is it NPHET light?

Chaired by Dr Tony Holohan set up by Government includes several NPHET members

Dr Tony Holohan coronavirus covid-19

Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer at the Department of Health

Dr Tony Holohan has been appointed to chair a new group to advise the Government on the Covid-19 pandemic which has several members of the dissolved National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET).

The establishment of a COVID-19 Advisory Group was confirmed in a statement from the Department of Health on Friday, April 8. The Chief Medical Officer is one of a number of members on the new group who also were key members of NPHET.

It said the group will advise the Minister for Health and Government on how best to maximise Ireland’s medium to long-term preparedness against SARS-CoV-2.

The group will note the evolving epidemiological assessment of COVID-19, provided by the monitoring processes in place through the Office of the Chief Medical Officer (CMO).

It will also be tasked with monitoring new and emerging evidence with regard to existing technologies, practices and interventions for the detection and control of SARS-CoV-2.

The team has also been asked to undertake "horizon scanning", including internationally, such that new technologies, practices and interventions may be appropriately integrated into the public health response to any emerging coronavirus threat.

The terms of reference also include advising the Minister and Government on experiences in other countries and jurisdictions in relation to SARS-CoV-2, where there are implications and/or potential learnings or actions for Ireland.

They members will also advise the Minister and Government on medium and long-term responses that may become necessary as part of the response to COVID-19.

A statement from the Department also said that since the last meeting of the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) for COVID-19, Ireland has transitioned from the emergency phase of the pandemic to a phase where the focus moved from regulation and population wide restrictions to public health advice, personal judgement and personal protective behaviours. 

It said this new phase of Ireland’s response to COVID-19 requires an approach that is informed by national and international evidence, grounded in best public health practice, with a broad, multidisciplinary membership encompassing members with specific expertise and experience in areas of strategic and/or operational responsibility.

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said: “I am delighted to announce the Covid-19 Advisory Group and its membership today. This very excellent group includes a wide range of expertise. Our hospitalisations are falling at present, which is reassuring. However, Covid-19 remains a threat and there is no way to know for sure what lies ahead. We need to be prepared. The Covid Advisory Group will make best use of national expertise, international data and evidence. 

“I would like to thank the members of the group for volunteering their time and energy to Ireland’s ongoing response to this pandemic,” he said.

The statement does not refer to the status of NPEHT but a number of members of the new group were also on NPEHT. The CMO wrote to to the Minister on in February saying the work of the NPHET has concluded. 

COVID-19 Advisory Group Members

Chair - Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan
Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn
Chief Clinical Officer, HSE Dr Colm Henry
Chair of the IEMAG Prof Philip Nolan
Chair of the HIQA COVID-19 Expert Advisory Group Prof Máirín Ryan
Chair of the AMRIC Dr Eimear Brannigan
Director, HPSC Dr Derval Igoe
Regional Director of Public Health Dr John Cuddihy
General Practitioner Dr Tadhg Crowley
President RCPI Prof Mary Horgan
Consultant Microbiologist Dr Anne Rose Prior
Consultant in Infectious Diseases Prof Paddy Mallon
ESRI Behavioural Research Unit  Prof Pete Lunn
Director, National Virus Reference Laboratory Dr Cillian de Gascun
Professor of Physical Chemistry Prof John Wenger
Senior Lecturer in Biochemistry Dr Anne Moore
Professor of Biochemistry and Immunology Prof Luke O’Neill
Professor, Chair in Comparative Immunology Prof Clíona O’Farrelly
Head of Health Protection Division, DOH Mr Fergal Goodman 
Representative of the Department of An Taoiseach TBC

COVID-19 Advisory Group

  • The Chair of the COVID-19 Advisory Group will report on behalf of the Group to the Minister for Health.
  • The Group will organise its work through regular plenary meetings, convened by the Chair.
  • The Group, at its first meeting, will adopt its Terms of Reference and its full terms of engagement.
  • The Group, should it be required, may organise its work through the establishment of sub-groups.
  • In accordance with the ‘One Person One Salary’ principle, members will not receive any additional renumeration or allowance for their work on COVID-19 Advisory Group. 
  • The administration and support of the Group will be in accordance with the relevant aspects of GDPR and FOI legislation.
  • In accordance with the principle of transparency, meeting documents and minutes will be made available in public at the appropriate time through the website of the Department of Health. 

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