Infectious diseases expert Professor Sam McConkey has urged people to continue to get their booster Covid-19 vaccine and also to get the flu vaccine this winter despite comments from the World Health Organisation that “the end is in sight”.
On Wednesday WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: “We have never been in a better position to end the pandemic. We are not there yet, but the end is in sight.”
Prof. McConkey told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland that the most recent variants of Covid-19 – Omicron BA4 and BA5 had not been as severe and while people were still becoming ill, the majority were not experiencing severe respiratory illness.
“I’m hopeful we won’t see a worse variant, but we could see a whole new disease. There could be a new threat out there,” he warned.
Vaccination remained an important solution and people should continue to get follow-up (booster) vaccines. The swift development of a vaccine for Covid-19 was part of the reason for the “fizzling” out of the virus, he said.
This winter people should also get their flu vaccine, he urged.
Ireland had coped well with the pandemic, said Prof McConkey. There had been good developments such as a move to “digitised” business which meant less air travel, the greater trust between countries, statutory sick pay and the recognition of the importance of smaller class sizes.
There had been a lower death rate in Ireland because of the care in the community for the vulnerable and elderly.
“I hope that spirit stays with us and the sense of international cooperation.”