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Luke O’Neill says vaccine booster offers 25-fold rise in Covid protection and ‘this is the way out’


Professor Luke O'Neill

Professor Luke O'Neill

Professor Luke O'Neill

Vaccine boosters offer a 25-fold boost in protection, according to leading immunologist Professor Luke O’Neill.

Professor O’Neill has said that waning vaccine protection is a “reality” and that booster shots will offer 10 to 12 months protection.

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“Waning is a reality. The booster - I’ve never seen science like it.”

He said that he is in regular contact with the chief immunologist in Israel, who has told him that there is a 25-fold boost in antibodies after the third shot.

“This is the way out, basically.

“It’ll probably give 10 to 12 months protection, now we think, that’s predictive based on the immune response that we have, it’s so strong, it lasts for 10 to 12 months.

“That’s a great sign, because it’ll mean every winter we’ll have vaccines for Covid just like the flu,” he said.

Professor O’Neill said that it will be a “different story in February” and that the country should “ride out these few months”.

He also said that therapeutic anti-viral drugs will decrease numbers in hospitals by 15pc according to trials.

He said that he expects the European Medicines Agency to approve antiviral drugs, which will then be rolled out.

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“By the time we get to February, we’ll have the booster campaign almost done, certainly in the over 40s I would hope, and the antivirals as well.

“They’re a massive weapon to add to our list of weapons,” he said.

Professor O’Neill said that he was not in favour of mandatory vaccines as they “just annoy people”.

He said that antigen tests are “certainly not” snake oil, referencing a comment made by modelling chief and Nphet member Professor Philip Nolan.

“I felt a bit sorry for Philip there.

“He was badly caught, wasn’t he? And I’ve been caught myself like that. But no, it’s not snake oil, the technology is fantastic and the false positive rates are very low.”

He called on people to use antigen tests after attending large matches or nightclubs if they intend of visiting relatives after.

“The false negative rates is a little bit high because you mightn’t take the swab properly and then the thing is negative and you’re actually positive.”

“I’d advocate widespread use, especially coming up to Christmas - if you’ve been in the Aviva, or you’re going to a nightclub, and you’re anxious about visiting a relative, take an antigen test and if you’re positive, stay home.”

He was speaking to reporters in Dublin Castle alongside Minister for Further Education Simon Harris as part of the Creating our Future campaign, which has received 10,000 submissions on research ideas.

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