New measures will have little impact on case numbers, says immunology expert

ireland
New Measures Will Have Little Impact On Case Numbers, Says Immunology Expert New Measures Will Have Little Impact On Case Numbers, Says Immunology Expert
Speaking to Newstalk, Professor Loscher was reacting to new measures set to be imposed in hospitality and leisure settings. Photo: PA Images
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By Dominic McGrath and Cate McCurry, PA

Professor of Immunology at DCU, Christine Loscher, has said that a number of measures announced by the Taoiseach on Tuesday will have little impact on the increasing number of Covid-19 cases.

Speaking to Newstalk, Professor Loscher was reacting to new measures set to be imposed in hospitality and leisure settings

"I don't think that closing hospitality a small bit earlier, and I don't think that Covid vaccine certs in the settings that he is talking about, I don't think either of those measures are going to have the significant impacts that we need to have in the coming weeks to really make a difference," Professor Loscher said.

Commenting on the booster programme, the immunology expert said the roll-out needs to be more ambitious.

"I really think that we need to act on these things.

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"We have solid ideas about the things we need to do, but we're just not doing them quick enough... I would like to see a better plan for the booster programme that hits those vaccine numbers that we were hitting in the summer time.

"We have the supply, we have the infrastructure, we have mass vaccination centres."

Further restrictions

Meanwhile, the Taoiseach has not ruled out further measures to tackle the spread of Covid-19 following his announcement on Tuesday evening.

The Taoiseach commented that he could not be sure the measures announced will be enough to curb the spread of the virus.

The Government has agreed that pubs, nightclubs and restaurants in Ireland will have a midnight closing time from Thursday, however, residents of hotels will be exempt from the new regulations.

People will also be urged to work from home from Friday, if they can.

Mr Martin told reporters that he could not guarantee the new measures would succeed.

“It remains to be seen as to whether these measures will be sufficient to hold back the tide of infection and the hospitalisation,” he said.

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“We’re not ruling out any further measures, we’ll keep them under review.”

Mr Martin said that while it is important to give time to see if the new measures are enough to improve the current situation, the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) may come back to the Government with fresh advice at any time.

“I think I’m taking this step by step, and we’ll see closer to the end of this month what the scenario will look in December.”

While he defended the Government’s handling of the pandemic so far, pointing in particular to Ireland’s world-leading vaccine uptake and the expansion of the booster programme, Mr Martin repeatedly said that the near future remains uncertain.

“It is not like we’re back at normal times. We’re not. No one can predict with certainty the journey of this pandemic.”

“Nobody wants to go back. We want to try to keep society open. But we can never be certain. We can never guarantee what the outcome will be because of the nature of the virus.”

On Monday, ministers were given a stark warning at the Cabinet sub-committee meeting, with estimates that up to 500 people may be in intensive care by next month.

The best-case scenario could see around 200 people in ICU.

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly confirmed on Tuesday that the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) has recommended that an extra dose of an mRNA vaccine be provided to anyone aged 16-59 with an underlying condition, as well as all residents of long-term care facilities.

Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys (Niall Carson/PA)

Anyone aged between 50 and 59 will also receive a jab, if already vaccinated.

It comes as the booster programme continues for healthcare workers and older people, as well as the immunocompromised.

Mr Martin said that the new measures were a proportionate response to the crisis.

“This is about balance. We have a vaccination programme. We’re rolling out the booster programme,” he said.

“We believe it is appropriate for now. We’re not ruling out anything further.”

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