Ireland is getting “very close” to the end of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to an immunologist.
There was a note of optimism at the latest briefing from the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) due to the strong progress in the vaccine programme.
A further 1,408 cases of the disease were confirmed yesterday, with nine deaths confirmed over the last week. There are 152 patients in hospital with Covid-19, with 26 in intensive care.
Professor of Immunology at Maynooth University, Paul Moynagh, said the pandemic could be changing course in vaccinated nations.
“I think we’re getting very close, the number of countries like ourselves, like the UK and most countries in Europe, I think we’re getting very close to the end of the pandemic phase,” he told Newstalk radio.
“We’ll probably move more into an endemic phase where the virus will be circulating in the background but thankfully, most of us will be protected by either vaccination or natural immunity through infection so that will prevent us from getting very ill, very sick.”
Meanwhile, another professor of immunology is warning young people of the dangers of long Covid.
Earlier this week, the HSE reported that some young people may have intentionally contracted the virus in order to obtain a Covid Digital Cert.
Christine Loscher, Professor of Immunology at Dublin City University, said everybody, including younger people, should avoid catching the virus.
“Whilst there’s a general perception that infection in young people is less severe and they don’t usually end up in hospital, the data from the UK would show that long Covid in that age group in particular, could be as high as 10 to 13 per cent, so they’re not going to be able to predict the long-term impact of actually getting the virus,” she said.
It comes as chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said that Ireland has one of the highest rates of vaccine uptake in the world, adding that the country could be “weeks away” from lifting further restrictions on society.
Public health experts said there will be “peaks and troughs” of Covid-19 cases over the next few months, but they do not expect to track “huge waves” due to the Irish public's caution.