Immunology expert Professor Kingston Mills has predicted that Ireland’s high vaccination level rate means that we will have lower levels of hospitalisations as a result of the Omicron variant than the UK.
Professor Mills told RTÉ radio’s Katie Hannon show that up to a quarter of all Londoners were not vaccinated, and it was still unknown how seriously ill the unvaccinated would become from the variant.
“Ireland’s vaccination levels are extraordinarily high, so we won’t see the same levels of hospitalisation.”
Prof Mills acknowledged that there would be high case numbers in January, but he predicted that there would not be the same high rates of hospitalisation as last January.
A lot of cases will be quite mild, people will just get on with it.
“A lot of cases will be quite mild, people will just get on with it.”
The number of days people who are close contacts have to self-isolate should be reduced, he said. Once people had three negative antigen tests the chances were they were not transmitting the virus, he said.
If every person who was a close contact had to stay in self-isolation then half the country would need to stay at home.
Prof Mills said he had been advocating wider use of antigen testing since early last year, “now the whole country has bought into it, it’s just a shame it didn’t happen sooner".
Talk of a fourth dose of the vaccine was “a bit premature” he said. It would be better to await new versions of vaccines which were specifically tailored to beat the Omicron variant. Such versions have been developed and are currently being tested, he said. There could be a booster campaign using them in late April or May.
Prof Mills said that in the future an annual Covid vaccine would become routine, just like a flu vaccine. “It will become routine, it won’t be in the media every hour of every day.”