THE dean of public health at University College Cork, Professor Ivan Perry, said he believes “the end is in sight” with regard to the Covid-19 pandemic, but he has advised caution to prevent a surge of cases.
Prof Perry, who is also a member of the Independent Scientific Advocacy Group (ISAG), was speaking following a meeting of the group which heard that the presence of the B.1617.2 variant in the UK means that Ireland should be cautious about the reopening of the economy while scientific uncertainty remains around the variant.
The B.1617.2 variant, which was first detected in India, has now been officially recorded in 53 territories around the world.
The ISAG meeting heard significant uncertainties remain about the transmissibility of the variant, its potential to evade immunity, and if it causes more life-threatening illness.
Prof Perry said we all have to be “extra cautious”.
“This variant is more transmissible than all previous variants,” said Prof Perry.
“The vaccines are working against it, but not as well as the previous variants. The level of protection is low, particularly for people who have only had a single dose so far.
“It has arrived in Ireland and it is highly likely that it will spread,” said Prof Perry.
“We just have to be extra cautious.
“We would all love it if things were opened up this summer but we are going to have to be living outdoors for the next period.”
He said that “Ireland is in a better place” now but he has called for everyone to remain vigilant.
“People have to be vigilant. Even for people who have received the double dose, the vaccine bonus won’t kick in until we get the levels of transmission in the community to a lower level than what they currently are.
“We all still have to be vigilant whether we are vaccinated or not.
“The rollout is going very well and we are in a better place now.
“The vaccination process will eventually get us to a better place. The end is in sight.
“We just need to keep doing the right things to avoid a nasty surge and maybe a significant number of young people being hospitalised or getting long Covid,” said Prof Perry.
More in this section