Ireland will “get on top” of the surge in Delta cases “some time in August”, an immunovirology expert has predicted.
Professor Liam Fanning told Newstalk radio that within two to three weeks there will be a decrease in case numbers.
The ongoing vaccine rollout, especially in the 18-24 cohort, will increase immunity, but he warned that “a watching brief” will be necessary on the spread of the virus.
The University College Cork academic pointed out that in Scotland the trajectory of Delta cases rose and then decreased “swiftly” and he expected there would be a similar “window” in Ireland with two to three weeks of ‘see-sawing” admissions to hospital.
The increase in the numbers vaccinated will tip the balance in favour of Ireland, he added.
The data from hospital admissions among the younger age group indicated that such patients were fitter and therefore would not become as ill as Covid patients in the past, but he warned that there was still a concern about transmission especially to vulnerable vaccinated individuals such as transplant patients.
Ultimately, the issue was there was great protection from vaccines against hospitalisation and death, he said.
“This wave is not going to be like previous waves,” he added.
4,000 cases peak
Meanwhile, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said up to 4,000 cases a day may be diagnosed in a matter of weeks, but that mortality would be far lower and hospital admissions may not rise much above 500.
The Government has also decided to seek more granular data on Covid hospitalisations, establishing those who enter hospital because they are ill with Covid and those who have Covid but have been admitted for other reasons.
However, further easing of restrictions is unlikely to happen soon, with limits on wedding numbers, crowds at performances and matches remaining, and indoor leisure facilities staying closed for now as the Government seeks to consolidate progress made so far.
Deputy chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn said a “significant increase” in hospital and intensive care admissions could follow if incidence continued to grow.
The latest estimate of new case growth rate is 6-7 per cent per day. There were 1,378 cases of Covid diagnosed on Wednesday, 96 people with the virus in hospital and 22 in intensive care.