Ireland not 'far ahead enough' in vaccine rollout to absorb Delta variant impact, says immunologist

Ireland Not 'Far Ahead Enough' In Vaccine Rollout To Absorb Delta Variant Impact, Says Immunologist
Professor Christine Loscher said the Government is in a “tricky” situation with regard to the reopening of indoor facilities. Photo: PA Images.
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Vivienne Clarke

Ireland is not “far ahead enough” in its Covid-19 vaccine rollout to absorb the impact that the Delta coronavirus variant could have on the population, an immunologist has warned.

Professor Christine Loscher said the Government is in a “tricky” situation with regard to the reopening of indoor facilities in July.


She told RTÉ radio’s Today with Claire Byrne show that leaders would have to wait to see “how the figures play out” in the next two to three weeks.

A significant proportion of the older population had not yet received their second AstraZeneca dose, which meant they were only 30 per cent covered against the variant, which Prof Loscher said was her “biggest concern”.

This cohort remained the most vulnerable, she said. “It’s a tricky situation, we’re almost there, but I don’t know if we’re quite there enough to open up.”

'We're almost there'

Vaccination was about preventing serious illness, hospitalisation and death, Prof Loscher said, and the Delta variant doubled the risk of hospitalisation.

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It was important to allow the country time to deal with the Delta variant. “We’re in a really good position, we’re almost there, we’re literally weeks away.”

The focus had to be on the possible impact on hospitals of the Delta variant, and vaccines could help reduce hospital admissions, she added.

Prof Loscher said she believed that international travel could resume as the infrastructure — guidelines, PCR testing, mandatory hotel quarantine for those returning from high risk areas — was in place to protect people.

She would not like to see a situation where people could not travel because of their personal views on vaccination, she said.

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