Fourth wave warning; we need 100% vaccine coverage says Cork-based expert

Fourth wave warning; we need 100% vaccine coverage says Cork-based expert

Professor Killeen said that "total universal coverage of the population with the vaccine" should see an end to the spread of Covid-19 but that reopening the country “before there's 100% vaccine coverage is the recipe for disaster”.

A Cork-based expert in the field of infectious disease has warned that reopening the country before there's 100% vaccine coverage across the whole population “is the recipe for disaster”.

Comparing the current situation in Irish hospitals to that of African hospitals dealing with malaria, AXA Research Chair of Applied Pathogen Ecology at University College Cork (UCC) Gerry Killeen said that it was predictable from the beginning.

Speaking to The Echo from Tanzania where he is currently working on malaria transmission control of malaria, Professor Killeen said that “the malaria burden in African hospitals would be comparable with Covid-19”.

He said that people must “finally look reality in the eye” and follow the strictest of restrictions in order to alleviate pressure on the hospital system and avoid a fourth wave of the virus breaking through the current third wave.

If the restrictions are harder, we’ll get there faster. Once we get back down into single figures, let’s stay there and let's get off this yoyo.

Professor Killeen said that "total universal coverage of the population with the vaccine" should see an end to the spread of Covid-19 but that reopening the country “before there's 100% vaccine coverage is the recipe for disaster”.

Speaking to The Echo from Tanzania where he is currently working on malaria transmission control of malaria, Professor Killeen said that “the malaria burden in African hospitals would be comparable with Covid-19”.

“We’re lucky enough in this part of Tanzania that a lot of things we did over the last decade have been very successful so it's a totally different picture now but if you go back 50 years ago most African hospitals would have looked like what Irish hospitals look like today.”

Covid-19 survivors face lingering symptoms.
Covid-19 survivors face lingering symptoms.

“Total universal coverage of the population with the vaccine should shut this thing down but that's assuming some things about these vaccines that we’re not entirely sure of and have not been measured, they haven't been evaluated over the long term.

“Anything in the middle, half measures, particularly talking about partial vaccination coverage, that's just a minefield of trouble because there’s a million things that could go wrong and there's a lot of things that we would predict will go wrong,” he said.

Professor Killeen has been predicting the surge in cases that we are seeing now since he sat down with the reports coming out of China in early March and “realised we were in really deep trouble”.

“The Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention mobilised something like 12,000 staff to Wuhan from across the whole Chinese health sector. They rapidly documented what was going on, they published it all in English for the benefit of everybody everywhere else and they made their decision and they made the right decision. So nobody can say that it is unpredictable.

“It was all very predictable but I love this new word exceptionalism because it's a polite way for all the things me and my African colleagues have been explaining about for years. 

In Europe we thought we were different and that somehow we could always find a smarter way and that we were somehow better than everybody else and something like Covid can really call that bluff in a quite a cruel way.

In Cork, more cases of Covid-19 were recorded in the previous two weeks than had been recorded since the beginning of the pandemic up to that two-week period.

The total number of cases recorded in Cork in the two-week period from December 30 to January 12 was 8,126 with the total number of cases recorded in the county up to and including January 12 standing at 15,959.

The number of people who contracted Covid-19 in Cork since the beginning of the pandemic up to and including December 30 was 7,833, meaning that the number of people with Covid-19 in the last two weeks has continued to surge.

There are 13 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the Critical Care Unit at CUH, and four confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the Critical Care Unit at MUH.
There are 13 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the Critical Care Unit at CUH, and four confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the Critical Care Unit at MUH.

There are currently 145 Covid-19 positive patients at Cork University Hospital (CUH) and 44 Covid-19 positive patients at the Mercy University Hospital (MUH).

There are 13 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the Critical Care Unit at CUH, and four confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the Critical Care Unit at MUH.

According to the latest Central Statistics Office’s (CSO) Covid-19 Deaths and Cases publication, Cork experienced the highest number of cases in the week ending January 1 when 4,173 cases were recorded.

The data recorded from October 9 last year to January 8 of this year revealed that the second-highest number of cases of 3,223 were recorded in the week ending January 8, while the lowest number of cases were recorded just weeks prior to Christmas with 71 cases recorded in the week ending December 4 and 72 cases recorded in the week ending December 11.

Cork recorded eight deaths in the week ending January 8, and had previously recorded five deaths in the weeks ending October 30 and November 13, while the total number of deaths in Cork since the beginning of the pandemic is 87.

the first delivery of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine to Ireland was made on Tuesday afternoon with Ireland having pre-ordered 875,000 doses of the vaccine.
the first delivery of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine to Ireland was made on Tuesday afternoon with Ireland having pre-ordered 875,000 doses of the vaccine.

Meanwhile, Executive Director of the European Medicines Agency (EMA), Emer Cooke, said that she is "hopeful" that the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine will be given European approval at the end of the month.

It follows the news of the first delivery of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine arrived in Ireland on Tuesday afternoon with Ireland having pre-ordered 875,000 doses of the vaccine.

Speaking to The Echo on the arrival of the second mRNA vaccine to Ireland, principal investigator and special lecturer in advanced therapies at University College Cork’s (UCC) School of Pharmacy, Dr Piotr Kowalski, said that both vaccines “are very comparable” in their effectiveness.

Both vaccines have been shown in clinical trials to be nearly identically effective, they were 95% and 94.5% effective, the efficacy is actually very comparable among various age groups and they had very similar safety.

“This is one of the really nice things validating the messenger RNA (mRNA) technology that actually two separate companies are developing the vaccine based on mRNA and they are getting very similar results in clinical trials so this is a great success for the whole technology that we have two vaccines developed separately based on the same technology and that show very similar results.

“I think the more vaccines we have the better and it increases the capacity for the amount of people that can get the vaccine and how fast this vaccine can be deployed which is very important now that we have seen this surge in cases and other Covid strains that have been detected in Ireland,” he said.

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