The Irish public have the power to weaken the coming Delta variant coronavirus wave, the Taoiseach has said.
A refocus on personal behaviour and responsibility can allow Covid-19 vaccines to rollout, reducing the impact of the variant and protecting progress already made, Micheál Martin said on Saturday.
Reducing case numbers in the coming fourth wave can also reduce the degree to which the protective wall of vaccination around much of the population is breached, he said.
A spike in cases driven by the Delta variant, first identified in India, is projected for August.
“I think it will be different in its impact to previous waves, as we’ve seen, every phase of this is different to the previous phase,” Mr Martin said.
“We learn lessons from the previous phases. We have far more of the population vaccinated now.
“So what I would say to people is to be vigilant, to refocus in terms of our personal behaviour. It can be difficult, and people are tired of the pandemic, that I understand.
“But if we all refocus in terms of our own personal responsibilities and personal behaviours, we can go a long way to mitigate the impact of the Delta variant, whilst we roll out the vaccination programme and try and maintain what we’ve already achieved so far this year.
“But the volume of cases worries me in terms of what we’re hearing from the United Kingdom, in terms of the number of cases that can occur in the unvaccinated population, and the degree to which that high volume of cases could penetrate the wall that the vaccine gives us.”
Fourth wave severity
The Taoiseach said it remains to be seen how severe the impact of the Delta wave will be.
“The interesting issue will be the link between volume of cases and hospitalisation,” he said.
“It will take more time to establish with precision what that will be. We are concerned about it, and I’m concerned about it.
“But that said, we have significant numbers of the population vaccinated, we’re going to really accelerate that in the coming month.”
Mr Martin also confirmed that Ireland has approached other European countries for excess vaccines, after agreeing a deal in principle for one million unwanted mRNA jabs from Romania.
💉Almost 4 and a quarter million doses administered
💉Record day on Wednesday + ~65k
💉Two in three adults with at least one dose
💉Heading for half of adults with full vaccination
💉Accelerated programme for 18-34 announced today
Well done to all involved. 👏 pic.twitter.com/ddrjrMU1dZ
— Stephen Donnelly (@DonnellyStephen) July 2, 2021
“I thank the Romanian president for his engagement with me on this. He said, as a measure of simple solidarity is what he said to me, he was willing to help Ireland,” Mr Martin said.
“I had pointed out that, given our geographical position to the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland, in terms of the higher cases arriving there in terms of Delta variant, and our high uptake of vaccine, that we needed additional supplies.
“And he responded in that regard. We had an agreement in principle, we’ve also reached out to others. I’m not going to comment again until we can bring those to a conclusion.”
Just over 900 cases of Covid-19 were confirmed on the island of Ireland on Saturday. A further 448 cases were confirmed in the Republic, while 460 cases were confirmed in Northern Ireland.
No further deaths related to the disease were reported in the North, while daily data on deaths remains unavailable in the Republic due to a cyberattack on the health service.
There are 42 people currently hospitalised in the Republic, with 14 in intensive care.
The Delta variant now accounts for 75 per cent of Covid-19 cases in Northern Ireland, and is suspected to account for around 70 per cent of new cases in the Republic.