The chair of the National Public Health Emergency Team's (Nphet) Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group, Prof Philip Nolan has warned the peak of Delta wave of Covid-19 has not yet been reached.
“It’s coming soon,” he told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland.
“We should reach that in the course of September and we should by that point, by international standards, have a very high level of protection and from that point the level of infections in the population should start to slowly decline and then over time the risk of catching or spreading the disease should reach the lowest points in the course of late September, October, November, December.”
The current case numbers were showing the vaccination programme was not finished yet, he told Newstalk Breakfast.
“There's a quarter of the adult population not yet fully protected, largely younger people with very high levels of social contact, and the disease is spreading rapidly in that population, that is a worry.”
We have to come up with a plan to ease restrictions.
Prof Nolan appealed to the public “get your vaccine, get your second dose, wait two weeks before believing you have a level of protection.
“We have to come up with a plan to ease restrictions, the strategy was to reach high levels of protection, we're all waiting for the same destination to return our lives to as near normal as possible.”
Prof Nolan rejected a suggestion that modelling did not take the vaccination levels into account: “All of the modelling we do takes vaccination rates into account - the levels of vaccine uptake we're seeing are higher than we might have expected and that's really good news for us as a population and we should be proud of that,” he said.
Unfortunately the numbers admitted to hospital and into intensive care will increase over the next two to three weeks at least, he added. “We're all really tired - it's 541 days since we reported our first case, what's happening here is we haven't reached that level of vaccination protection that we would like to have.”
Of the 200 admissions to ICU between April and now, three quarters of those had no vaccination, only one in 20, about five per cent were 14 days beyond completing their vaccination regimen.
“So 19 out of 20 people that were admitted to ICU over the past several months had no vaccination or were partially vaccinated. The vast majority were eligible for vaccination. We’re seeing an increase in the number of younger people, people under 45, mostly with underlying conditions.”
Prof Nolan said it had been anticipated there would be slower uptake for the 12-15 age cohort, but the entire vaccination process was well on target.
As an educator, he added he was enthusiastic about the return to school and college in the coming weeks.