Another year of restrictions related to Covid-19 would be necessary before the number of people vaccinated would be sufficient to protect the public in general from the disease, a top health official has said.
Meanwhile, close to 6,500 HSE staff are currently out sick with Covid-19, the HSE chief Paul Reid has stated.
As the Irish Times reports, Dr Colm Henry, chief clinical officer at the HSE, said in radio comments that social distancing and restrictions in some form were likely for the rest of 2021 at least, until enough of the population could be vaccinated to grant general or herd immunity.
“The answer, and not everyone likes it but it’s the truth... is that the public in general won’t have protection from Covid-19 for at least a year.
"In the meantime, it’s more important than ever to abide by the public health guidance so that we can stop the spread of the virus,” he told Máirín Ní Ghadhra on Raidió na Gaeltachta.
“We’re in the middle of the main wave now... and we can see the damage that has been wrought. The vaccine is coming, and we’ll come out of this if we can stick to the public health guidelines until everyone has been vaccinated.”
Meanwhile, HSE chief executive Paul Reid said the hospital system is “completely tightening up” and has “formally gone into surge capacity”.
The national critical care surge group had been mobilised and close to 6,500 HSE staff are currently out sick with Covid-19, with about 4,000 of those having been working in hospitals, he said.
“People are quite sick with this virus and we are seeing families being treated, we’re seeing young people being treated in hospital. So again, it’s a really strong message out to the public – this virus infects everybody,” he told RTÉ’s Saturday with Katie Hannon show.
The number of people in hospital with Covid-19 has risen slightly to 1,848, according to the latest figures on Saturday morning.