1,380 new cases of virus confirmed as numbers in hospital rise by 53 in just one day
There has been a dramatic rise in the number of people being treated in hospital for Covid-19.
The Department of Health this afternoon said another 1,380 cases of the virus have been confirmed – down from a nine-month high of 2,180 cases confirmed yesterday.
However while the number of cases is down markedly, there has been a surge in the number of Covid-19 patients in hospital.
As of 8am today, there were 459 patients with the virus being treated in Irish hospitals, this is up from 406 yesterday – a rise of 53.
HSE chief executive Paul Reid has said that 65pc of Covid-19 patients in ICU are unvaccinated.
This comes as there has been a surge in Covid hospitalisations in the past three weeks, with Mr Reid saying it has risen by 40pc in the past three weeks.
"So these are significant increases,” Mr Reid told RTÉ Radio One this afternoon. “In hospital at the moment about 60pc are people over the aged of 65.
“So 40pc of people in hospital with Covid are below the ages of 65, so it’s a very significant mix across all the age groups.
“In ICU about 65pc are unvaccinated, which is a real cause of concern for us.”
He appealed to the more than 300,000 people who are eligible to be vaccinated but have not opted to get the vaccine to do so.
He said: “If you have not been vaccinated you are at an extremely higher risk to yourself, you are putting your family at extremely higher risk and you’re putting your communities at much higher risk.
"We are addressing a number of issues to get those who are unvaccinated vaccinated, we are contacting those people who have only received dose one to come forward for dose two and we are looking at areas where there has been a low take-up and promoting uptake.”
Meanwhile Ireland is “well past” the stage of all office staff needing to work from home, Professor Luke O’Neill has said.
His comment comes after deputy chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn said on Friday that people who can work from home should do so throughout this autumn and winter.
However, Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said the Government’s position on the return to workplaces “hasn’t changed”.
Speaking to RTÉ Radio One’s Brendan O’Connor Show, immunologist Prof Luke O’Neill said the Government should proceed with allowing office workers to go into their workplace.
"I think proceed, we have to learn to live with this,” he said. “Now is the time to live with this virus, we don't want to go back.
"You may say give people an option, but, if a company decides to have people in [the office] the mitigation measures need to be in place.
“It might be a bit much to say ‘everyone stays at home’- we are well past that stage.”
Prof O’Neill said he also believes that restrictions should significantly ease on October 22 as planned, however he said Covid-19 vaccine certificates should still be needed for indoor venues.
He also said he would like antigen testing to be implemented and believes “it’s a shame” that antigen testing isn’t being used in every household in Ireland.
"There's no doubt we need to keep some restrictions, but we must get back [to normal], October 22 is our next big moment and they must reopen nightclubs for definite,” he said.
“If we don't, we are just keeping them closed because of the unvaccinated which seems unfair.
“We have to prepare and really get on with things. I would for definite [reopen] but I would have the vaccine cert or evidence of being infected and an antigen test would be great to have as well.
“It takes five to 10 minutes and if you’re positive you don’t go into the nightclub and you stay at home.”
Prof O’Neill said some measures will need to be in place, including mask-wearing, until 85pc of the whole population – including children – is vaccinated.
He added that booster vaccines will be key to keeping the vulnerable protected as restrictions ease.
"The masks, I’m afraid, will continue and I would definitely have the vaccine cert as evidence of infection and antigen testing, if we get that going that would be tremendous,” he said.
“All over the world the vaccines are holding firm, even with Delta they are stopping people getting severe disease and dying, and that will continue in the coming months.”
Speaking today, Children’s Minister Roderic O’Gorman said continuing to use Covid-19 vaccination certs beyond October 22 was a “good option”.
He added that there needs to be more enforcement to ensure businesses are asking for certs and said customers should be noting which establishments are not properly enforcing the guidelines.
“I think we’re all concerned at the increased levels of Covid infections in the last two weeks,” Mr O’Gorman told RTÉ’s This Week.
“But I think there is a strong desire that we do want to as far as it is safe continue the reopening of society.”
Asked if nightclubs will be reopening on October 22, he said: “That depends on what we get back from Nphet tomorrow, I would definitely like to see it happen.
"The nightclub industry has taken the longest hit from Covid with 19 months shut and I think we want to see that to be able to reopen but in a safe manner, maybe in conjunction with the use of Covid certs but that depends on Nphet’s advice tomorrow.”
Elsewhere Professor Cillian De Gascun has warned that the current rate of Covid-19 vaccine uptake along with the effectiveness of the vaccines isn’t currently enough to suppress the virus alone.
However, Prof De Gascun, director of the UCD National Virus Reference Laboratory and a member of the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet), stressed that this does not mean the vaccines are not effective.
Yesterday, 2,180 coronavirus cases were confirmed in the State - the highest daily case figure since January. This is despite 88pc of the population aged over 12 being fully vaccinated.
With much of the public querying why case numbers are so high with a high rate of vaccination, Prof De Gascun explained that the current vaccination uptake alone isn’t enough to suppress or eliminate the virus.
In a thread on Twitter, the virologist explained that in order for a virus to be brought under control, the percentage of the population vaccinated multiplied by the effectiveness of the Covid-19 vaccines must be greater than the percentage that is needed for herd immunity.
Instead of the phrase ‘herd immunity’ however, he used the term ‘community level protection’ (CLPT). He said this percentage can be derived from the reproductive number (RO) of the virus.
“We have an RO of 5-8, a CLPT of 80-88pc, a VE [vaccine efficacy] of 75pc (range 53-91pc, per SY Tartof et al, Lancet 2021), and vaccine uptake of 88pc in those more than 12 years of age,” he said.
“However, this level of vaccine uptake – when measured across the entire population – equates to somewhere between 75pc and 80pc. On that basis, and taking into account the cohort of the population that is not (yet, at least) eligible for vaccination, we can see that the current first generation of #SARSCoV2 vaccines is unlikely – in isolation at least, i.e. without additional public health measures – to be able to control #SARSCoV2 Delta in the community.
“So, to simplify the above, vaccine uptake rate multiplied by vaccine effectiveness should be greater than the CLPT for a virus to be brought under control.”
There’s been a lot of discussion recently about #SARSCoV2 #vaccine effectiveness, hospitalisation, and the reason for increasing case numbers, in spite of our high rates of vaccination. This thread will not provide a definitive explanation for the above 1/n— Cillian De Gascun (@CillianDeGascun) October 17, 2021
Prof De Gascun added that taking all this into account, the threshold to suppress Covid-19 within the community has not been reached with the current vaccines.
"As a result, we will continue to see case numbers increase as restrictions ease,” he said.
"This does not, and I stress, does not, mean that the #SARSCoV2 vaccines are not effective.
“It simply means that they are not sufficiently effective – on their own – to suppress or eliminate #SARSCoV2 transmission in the community. However, they are very effective at protecting against hospitalisation and severe disease.”