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Pfizer jab effectiveness wanes just three months after second shot

43 Covid deaths recorded in last week

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HSE chief Paul Reid said the demand for PCR testing was unprecedented. Photo: Frank McGrath

HSE chief Paul Reid said the demand for PCR testing was unprecedented. Photo: Frank McGrath

HSE chief Paul Reid said the demand for PCR testing was unprecedented. Photo: Frank McGrath

People who had the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine are at increased risk of getting infected with the virus as early as three months after their second jab, a new study reveals today.

The Pfizer shot was the main vaccine given to people in Ireland – but booster shots are not being administered by the HSE until at least five months after a second vaccine, following expert advice.

However, a new study from Israel published in the British Medical Journal today, involving more than 80,000 people, shows the risk of infection was nearly two-and-a-half times higher after 90 to 119 days.

Trinity College Professor Luke O’Neill has already called for the over-40s to be given a booster shot within four months of their second vaccine.

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HSE chief Paul Reid said yesterday that around 560,000 booster vaccines have been rolled out so far and another 70,000 third jabs have been given to people with very weak immune systems.

He said the aim is to step up the roll-out to around 270,000 boosters from next week.

However, people in their 50s will likely have to wait until the end of December or early January to get their booster shot.

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said the booster vaccines for those with certain underlying conditions in all ages would be rolled out from next week.

The news comes as 43 more deaths from Covid-19 were reported in the last week.

Another 3,893 cases of the virus were reported yesterday.

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There were 611 patients with Covid-19 in hospital, a fall of 27 from Tuesday. However, the number in intensive care rose to 132, an increase of two.

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said around one in seven adults had flu-like, cold-like or Covid-like symptoms last week.

He urged people with symptoms to self-isolate and seek a PCR test.

However, the HSE’s testing system continued to struggle to cope with the demand, with no slots available for a PCR test in 23 counties yesterday evening. Appointments were available only in Roscommon, Mayo and Donegal.

HSE chief Paul Reid said the demand was unprecedented and a record 26,000 people were swabbed in one day earlier this week.

He said more staff were being redeployed to testing centres and members of the Defence Forces were also involved.

Dr Holohan said: “The most important action to take if you experience any symptoms of Covid is to self-isolate immediately, staying indoors and avoiding contact as far as possible with those you live with.”

Mr Reid said hospitals hope to increase the number of intensive care beds to around 350. However, modelling suggests 400 or more Covid-19 patients may be critically ill in Christmas week.

The latest report on Covid-19 outbreaks last week shows 43 more deaths were reported, while 145 people have died of the virus in nursing homes and hospitals since the end of June.

There was an increase in outbreaks in schools, workplaces and residential institutions last week.

The highest incidence of Covid-19 was reported in children in primary schools. The Health Protection Surveillance Centre reported 5,374 cases in five- to 12-year-olds – up from 4,211 the week earlier.

The European Centre for Disease Control yesterday told EU member states that the burden of disease will be very high in December and January unless public health measures are applied now.


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