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Head of Limerick ICU believes everyone will eventually get Covid-19 as ‘delta is so transmissible’

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Dr Catherine Motherway

Dr Catherine Motherway

Dr Catherine Motherway

The head of University Hospital Limerick’s (UHL) ICU department believes everyone will eventually get Covid-19 as the delta variant is “so transmissible”.

However, Dr Catherine Motherway said the current surge needs to be dealt with so that intense care units don’t become overwhelmed.

The doctor was speaking today on RTÉ Radio One’s Morning Ireland, where the presenter asked if she still believes every person in Ireland will contract Covid-19 at some stage- as he heard her say this last weekend.

"I think so,” she responded. "We need the population to get this disease slowly so that the healthcare service can withstand it but also so that as time elapses we have better treatment.

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“If you got this disease last year we didn't have the vaccination, we didn't know at the beginning there were steroids now we have antivirals on the way.

"A viral disease will move through the population and if you get it what you need is protection and you need your vaccination.”

Dr Motherway said vaccinations will give people “some level of immunity” so disease will be less severe.

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She added: “Delta will move through our population but we need it to move slower and we will all eventually acquire an immunity hopefully predominantly through vaccination without disease.”

The doctor said UHL began to notice its ICU was in difficulty last week, and it had to surge its capacity by two beds.

Nine out of the 14 level three intensive care beds in the hospital are currently filled with Covid-19 patients.

Dr Motherway said there are two groups of people in ICU with coronavirus- older people with waning immunity, and younger people who haven’t been vaccinated.

"There are the people with significant immune disease or have waning immunity and needed a third dose of their vaccine,” she explained.

“So these are older patients with immune problems like leukemia, and we are also seeing a younger group of people who are not yet vaccinated for whatever reason.

“They are a younger cohort with severe Covid disease who have come to the ICU because they’re not vaccinated.”

Dr Motherway said Covid patients in ICU stay “at least twice as long” as other non-Covid patients due to the severity of their disease.

The specialist said it’s important that case numbers are brought down now, as when intensive care goes past its capacity the standard of care is reduced.

This is due to healthcare workers from different departments, who are not experienced or trained in ICU, having to look after these severely ill patients.

"When we surge beyond our normal we are relying on healthcare professionals who have been transferred from other areas,” Dr Motherway said.

“It’s not the same so outcomes are never as good when you surge beyond your normal.”


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