Prof Luke O'Neill: 'Keep banging the drum to get people vaccinated'

Prof O’Neill said there was hope that the Omicron variant did not lead to the same level of hospitalisations as Delta
Prof Luke O'Neill: 'Keep banging the drum to get people vaccinated'

Vivienne Clarke

Immunology expert Professor Luke O’Neill has called on the public “to keep banging the drum” and to “get down on bended knee” to appeal to people who have not yet been vaccinated to do so.

Speaking on the Late Breakfast show with Clare McKenna on Newstalk radio, Prof O’Neill said “we’ve got to help them change their minds".

There were now five different vaccines against Covid, he explained, one of which Novavox, had been developed using “old style” technology which addressed concerns about the new technology expressed by some people who were opposed to vaccination.

Rampant

The virus was still rampant around the world, he said. It had been the Alpha variant at Christmas 2020 and Omicron at Christmas 2021, it could be Omega next year which highlighted the need for people to adhere to public health measures.

Prof O’Neill said there was hope that the Omicron variant did not lead to the same level of hospitalisations as Delta. The year 2021 would go down as the year of discovering the vaccine while 2022 would be the year of optimising the vaccine.

The only way to stop the virus “ruining” next Christmas was to get the world vaccinated. Vaccines were working. The next step was to develop vaccines that stop transmission. The current crop of vaccines work on the lungs, the new vaccines would work on the nose, he said, adding there were 120 new vaccines in development among which would be vaccines that would work against any variant.

When it came to Covid figures in hospitals, Prof O’Neill pointed out that a person could be hospitalised for a broken leg and then tested positive for Covid. That was “incidental” Covid, that person was not in hospital because of Covid.

Prof O’Neill added that his laboratory in Trinity College Dublin was working on three Covid projects. He pointed out that there were studies going on all around the world into anti inflammatories, antivirals – some of which would decrease the risk of hospitalisation by 90 percent.

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