Immunologist Professor Luke O’Neill has described the failure to fully vaccinate all the over-60 cohort as “a travesty”.
Over-60s who received the AstraZeneca vaccine should have received their second dose by now, he told RTÉ radio’s Today with Claire Byrne show, but he added that they should have been given an mRNA vaccine for their second dose.
I feel they should be mixing the vaccines.
Prof O’Neill predicted that when booster vaccines are given they will be mRNA vaccines as it will have a stronger response. “It would be sensible to give Pfizer as a second dose. I don’t understand why they’re not mixing.”
The two key issues this winter will be ventilation and booster shots, he added.
Prof O’Neill also said that the digital travel cert made sense, but it depended on where people were going as there were still some countries where the virus was rampant. “Common sense should prevail.”
With regard to indoor dining ventilation would be the “big thing” he said. If a premises could set up a good ventilation system then that needed to be “upper most".
The Department of Education’s plan to provide C02 monitors to all schools was a great idea, he said.
The virus was spread through the air, if there was good ventilation then that was a “good de-risker”. If the virus were spread by water then water filtration systems would be used, the same should be the case with Covid as it was spread through the air and ventilation would work.
Covid-19 was a preventable disease, vaccination worked, he said. Better ventilation and antigen testing were key measures.
When asked about plans for the easing of restrictions in the UK, Prof O’Neill said that he felt that was moving too quickly. “They are going a bit too fast there. The risk of Long Covid is still a reality.”
It was a gamble that the UK was taking. “They might get away with it. It will inform us when we see what is happening there, we can react.”
Prof O’Neill said he did not think that children under the age of 12 should be vaccinated, instead the vaccines should go to the developing world as the virus was benign for the under-18s except in exceptional cases.
“Ultimately we will vaccinate children, but now is not the time.”
There will be other variants, he warned, but vaccines offered some protection. Very often viruses would become benign as they don’t want to kill their host. “They’re a parasite.”