Predictions from the World Health Organisation (WHO) that Ireland will face another surge in Covid-19 cases as the summer arrives are “a bit disturbing,” Professor Luke O’Neill has said.
The WHO's special envoy on Covid-19, Dr David Nabarro, warned on Wednesday that Ireland will see another surge in four to six weeks.
The latest wave of the virus – likely the largest to date due to the lifting of all restrictions and the scaling-back of the test and trace system – only receded this month, with hospitalisations falling to the lowest level of the year this morning.
However, Prof O’Neill, who is a professor of biochemistry at Trinity College Dublin and a member of the new Covid-19 Advisory Group replacing the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet), said he also believes the situation will worsen once again.
“The trajectory of the virus would suggest we’re going to get a surge,” he told Newstalk radio.
“Now, we’d be pretty confident there’ll be one in September because as we head back into the autumn and the winter and so on, the case numbers should go up.
“But it’s a bit disturbing it’s in three months in a way, because that’s the thick of summer. I’m not quite sure how they’ve got that, but I suspect it’s these graphs they draw and they see the trajectory and they can predict the surge.”
The WHO’s Dr Nabarro earlier told Newstalk that Ireland can expect a new surge every three to four months for the foreseeable future, but the size of the wave will remain unpredictable.
“It does seem to be about four months, the frequency, but the size of the surge is hard to predict,” he said.
“It’s partly to do with the number of people in the community that are susceptible, and it’s partly to do with the virus itself – has it developed a new ferocity.”
Dr Nabarro said surges will come as immunity to the virus, either through vaccination or infection, wanes over time.
It comes as the number of Covid-19 patients in Irish hospitals fell to the lowest point of the year this morning.
There are 412 people currently hospitalised, compared to over 1,600 on the same day last month.
A further 2,307 cases of Covid-19 were logged yesterday, with 982 confirmed by PCR test while 1,325 people registered a positive antigen test through the HSE portal.