Updated at 1.50pm
High Covid-19 case numbers will continue in Ireland for the foreseeable future, the Health Service Executive’s chief clincial officer has said.
As The Irish Times reports, Dr Colm Henry said the State was unlikely to see “wild surges” in case numbers in the future, but that they would continue to “rumble on” at a high level.
It comes as the Department of Health have confirmed a further 2, 180 new cases of Covid-19. There are currently 406 people in hospital with the virus and a further 71 in ICU.
Currently, Ireland has a 14-day incidence rate of 410 cases per 100,000 people, with more than 400 in hospital and 70 in intensive care units.
Dr Henry was asked on RTÉ Radio’s Brendan O’Connor programme why the State has one of the highest rates of Covid-19 infection in Europe despite having one of the highest rates of vaccination.
It was suggested this was an argument being used by anti-vaccine groups to encourage others not to get vaccinated.
The @hpscireland has today been notified of 2,180* confirmed cases of #COVID19.
As of 8am today, 406 #COVID19 patients are hospitalised, of which 71 are in ICU.
*Daily case numbers may change due to future data validation.
— Department of Health (@roinnslainte) October 16, 2021
Dr Henry said it was untrue to suggest vaccinations were not having a positive impact in the fight against the disease.
He said there were almost 1,500 deaths from Covid-19 in January but that “we have a fraction of that now”.
“Similarly with admissions to ITU (intensive treatment unit), the link between cases and harms has been severely weakened, if not completely broken, and that is down to the vaccination programme.”
Cases are currently running at an average of some 1,500 a day, he said, and without the vaccine hospitals would be “overrun” with admissions as a result of Covid-19. “We are not because of the vaccination programme.”
Dr Henry suggested that the rising case numbers could be attributed to greater levels of social interaction as society opens up.
“The signalling that has given has led, in some cases, to breaches of the advice that has been given out.”
He also suggested that the Delta variant came to Ireland earlier than other countries and that may be a factor as it is highly transmissible.
Dr Henry admitted that he was worried about hospitals over the winter as they will have to cope with Covid-19 along with normal services.
He said he would be happy for nightclubs to open provided that entry was reserved for those with certs showing they had been vaccinated or had recently recovered from the disease.