Reservations over opening society once all over-50s vaccinated

Reservations Over Opening Society Once All Over-50S Vaccinated
Prof Sam McConkey said he had reservations about the Danish plan to open up society once all over-50s were vaccinated. Photo: Getty Images.
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Vivienne Clarke

An infectious diseases expert has expressed reservations over the suggestion that Ireland could open up once all those over the age of 50 are vaccinated against Covid-19.

Professor Sam McConkey pointed out that Israel was already having street parties, such had been the success of their vaccination programme.


However, he told Newstalk Breakfast that there was still a lot of uncertainty and he had reservations about the Danish plan to open up society once all over-50s had been vaccinated.

There was still a one in a thousand chance of death for people aged 45 from Covid-19, he said. The issue was very complex and Ireland could learn from the successes and failures of other countries.

Visionary leadership was needed to show a credible way forward in the Covid crisis, Prof McConkey said.

It was harder to open up society than to close it down and the failure of the second lockdown had shown that opening up based on dates rather than data had been a mistake, he said.


Judgement call

On the same programme, Senator Michael McDowell said that society had to make a judgement call on whether it was worth taking the risk of opening up society once older and vulnerable cohorts had been vaccinated.

Targets should be data related, he added and the test and trace system should be used to track down any cases that arise as society could not be closed down permanently.

Was a risk of one in a thousand worth it, he asked, if an entire generation was going to miss going to university and businesses were closing down. If these were the consequences at what point would society say this was a risk that would have to be taken.

The country needed a plan that included mileposts, he said. At present people were getting “a jumble of figures thrown at us every day” with no target by which to measure, said the former attorney general.

“Where is the light at the end of the tunnel?” he asked.

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