The potential rise of the Delta variant on the island of Ireland is worrying with vaccines “less capable” of dealing with the coronavirus mutation, according to a leading immunologist.
Professor of Immunology at Trinity College Dublin, Kingston Mills, told Newstalk radio that the country is benefiting from the vaccination programme but the variant remains a concern.
The variant, which is up to 40 per cent more transmissible and is thought to be responsible for the recent devastating surge of the virus in India, is now the dominant strain in Britain.
There have been at least 115 confirmed cases of the variant sequenced in the Republic.
“The worrying trend has been the increased numbers of cases of the Delta or Indian variant, in particular some mention of them being in Co Down,” Prof Mills said.
Covid-19 vaccines were “less capable of taking care of that virus” and two doses are needed to give full protection against the variant, he added.
While more than three million doses have now been administered in the Republic, only 26 per cent of all adults are fully vaccinated.
Prof Mills said another issue was that not all vaccines provide equal protection.
“The AstraZeneca vaccine is not as good as the mRNA vaccines, you know, around 60 per cent effective compared with 88 [per cent] for the Pfizer [vaccine] against the Delta variant, even with two doses,” he said.
“So that is a significant concern for those who have been vaccinated with the AstraZenenca vaccine if the Delta variant gets a hold here in Ireland, like it has in the UK.”
It comes as the latest daily figures from the Department of Health confirmed 271 cases of the coronavirus — the second lowest daily figure this year — with 77 people being treated in hospital.
There has been a 20 per cent drop in the number of ICU patients with Covid-19 in the past week.
The latest figures show 27 patients receiving treatment in intensive care, while the total including general wards stands at 77.