By James Ward, PA
Falling cases of Covid-19 among the elderly population who have had their third vaccine dose is a “cause for hope”, a HSE briefing has heard.
Chief clinical officer Dr Colm Henry said there has also been a “sharp drop” in hospital admissions among the older age groups who have received the booster jab.
Ireland is among the top five countries in the EU in terms of the booster rollout, with over 880,000 doses administered, the briefing heard on Thursday.
Dr Henry said: “What we’re seeing is a trend now which is certainly cause for hope, which replicates what we saw in Israel, which of course is the country at the front in terms of administration of the booster vaccines.
“We’re seeing falling cases in those older age groups.
“They dropped 14 per cent in the 85 plus, almost 20 per cent in 75 to 84s, and 8 per cent in 65 to 74s.
“So a dropping number of cases in those over 65, and as you go upwards in age, an even greater drop in cases.”
Dr Henry said there had also been a “sharp drop” in hospital admissions among those aged 65 to 74.
“We know from the Israeli studies, the booster vaccine led to a sharp drop in hospitalisations in those who were receiving the booster vaccine, which should give us a great cause for hope” he added.
However, case figures remain high among those under 18.
Unvaccinated in hospitals
HSE chief executive Paul Reid said unvaccinated people are “highly disproportionately represented” in hospital numbers.
Of the adult population, 93.5 per cent are fully vaccinated, with 6.5 per cent not fully vaccinated.
He said: “If you just look at the current position in relation to that, 48 per cent of the Covid patients in hospitals now aren’t fully vaccinated.
“50 per cent of the Covid patients in the ICU now have had no vaccination at all and 2 per cent are partially vaccinated.”
He added: “These are really highly disproportionate impacts by not being vaccinated, impacts on our health system.”
However, Mr Reid said “very positively” that unvaccinated people are continuing to present for their jabs, with 10,000 first doses and another 10,000 second doses issued in the last week.
Mr Reid said that the numbers entering hospital have stabilised, but warned that this is happening at “an extremely high level.”
“That still poses a risk for us as we head into December, as we head into the winter period overall,” he said.
“We’re still far from out of the woods on this and the impact it’s having on the healthcare system overall.”
“We will need to sustain both the public actions and our own actions that we’ve taken, for some time to come.”
There are currently 547 Covid-positive patients in hospital, down 8 per cent on the previous week.
Over the last two weeks, 506 people were admitted to hospital with the virus.
Of that number, 40 per cent were over the age of 65, another 40 per cent were aged 35 to 64, 13 per cent were aged 19 to 34, and 7 per cent were under 18.