With the release of the IOM “priority list” yesterday, now we know why they kept it a secret for so long: it is based on “a review of UK epidemiological data on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic” and not the Manx spread of the disease.

The underlying science might well be sound for the UK – but when the key science is based on “UK outbreak data”, it means that it is based upon the “recorded daily hospitalisation numbers, hospital bed occupancy, ICU occupancy and daily deaths” of the United Kingdom. As is very obvious, the situation in the Isle of Man is very different.

It is obvious that the risk to an elderly person in a Manx care home is very different to the risk to an elderly person in an English or Scottish care home. Unlike the United Kingdom, we do not have the disease circulating locally. Unlike the United Kingdom, the Isle of Man has a number of people with medical issues flying from the relatively safety of the Isle of Man into the relative unsafety of the United Kingdom.

In the United Kingdom, it might make sense for “clinically extremely vulnerable individuals” and “individuals aged 16 years to 64 years with underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk of serious disease and mortality” to be ranked just 4th and 6th on their priority lists. But in the Isle of Man, those people face different risks to the United Kingdom, because people with pre-existing conditions are at higher risk of being required to travel to the United Kingdom for medical treatment.

How much higher, exactly? I do not know pretend to know the answers, but it is disappointing that the Isle of Man Government has not even apparently asked the questions. Then again, it seems that the Manx Minister for Health didn’t have much faith in his department to model these issues. It would be reasonable for the Manx Government to doubt their own “experts” given how wrong their forecasts were in Feb/March when they massively underplayed the risk, or in April when they massively over-projected the spread!

But at least in March and April they tried to use local Manx data to project and model the spread of the disease. This priority list doesn’t even try to do that. Thus, we’re left with a bad foreign answer to a local question.