Dr Colm Henry: Vaccination is 'flood wall defence' but could be breached by Delta surge

ireland
Dr Colm Henry: Vaccination Is 'Flood Wall Defence' But Could Be Breached By Delta Surge
The HSE’s chief clinical officer Dr Colm Henry has described the vaccination programme as a flood wall defence that no matter how strong, could be breached if Covid case numbers rise.
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Vivienne Clarke

The HSE’s chief clinical officer Dr Colm Henry has described the vaccination programme as a flood wall defence that no matter how strong, could be breached if Covid case numbers rise.

“We’re building a flood wall, it is not completely unbreachable, but it is a big defence for us,” he told Newstalk Breakfast.

The more people who were vaccinated the stronger the defence, but if there were enough cases then the flood wall could be breached, he warned.

Delta variant

The Delta variant was more transmissible, and it was too early to tell what the rates of hospitalisation would be, he said. In the UK last week the rate of admissions rose by 30 per cent while the number of cases rose 50 per cent. In Scotland the numbers in ICU rose from nine to 35.

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“If the flood gets high enough the walls will be breached.”

Dr Henry urged everyone to avail of the vaccine and pointed out that people aged 18 to 34 had the choice of registering for vaccination through a pharmacist or to go through the vaccination portal which would extend to the 18 to 24 age group by mid-August.

The risk of any side effects were minimal, he said, but he urged people to read the details on the HSE website. But the risks from side effects were better than the risk of Covid. There had been only seven cases of side effects from the vaccine in Ireland and all had made a full recovery.

Herd immunity

Dr Henry said it was anticipated that by the end of August everyone who wanted to be vaccinated will have done so. The level of herd immunity required was likely to rise because of the transmissibility of the Delta variant. That level was likely to be 80 per cent to 85 per cent.

Ireland was ahead of many other countries in terms of vaccine uptake, he said which would help the country escape from the virus.

“The vaccine programme gives us a way out.”

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