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Complacency must be given the boot in our battle with Covid



HSE Chief Clinical Officer Colm Henry. Photo: Colin Keegan

HSE Chief Clinical Officer Colm Henry. Photo: Colin Keegan

HSE Chief Clinical Officer Colm Henry. Photo: Colin Keegan

The transition from universal mandates to a focus on individual decisions in combating Covid-19 to minimise the disruption of daily life, was welcome.

But try though we may to put pandemic thoughts out of our minds — especially over the summer— it certainly has not gone away.

Robert Louis Stevenson once said: “I have a grand memory for forgetting.”

But the risk has not vanished. The roll-out of the second booster vaccination campaign has started with pregnant women and people over 60.

The HSE has understandably urged all those eligible to get their injection.

The jabs may not have stopped the virus but they have demonstrated beyond doubt that they have stopped people becoming seriously ill, in great numbers. Yes, there are still sceptics, but the good thing about science, as has been noted, is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it.

HSE Chief Clinical Officer Dr Colm Henry has warned about a waning of immunity against infection from the virus over time.

He pointed out the booster shot would provide recipients with ongoing protection from grave illness, and strengthen their immunity.

During the summer surge of infections, the World Health Organisation’s European office warned of a “challenging” autumn and winter.

Gaps in pandemic monitoring and response would have to be closed if we are to prevent new waves. Regional director for Europe, Hans Kluge, said: “It’s now abundantly clear we’re in a similar situation to last summer – only this time the ongoing Covid-19 wave is being propelled by sub-lineages of the Omicron variant,” he added.

The rapid increase in cases coupled with “reduced virus surveillance” could create problems unless people take the necessary steps.

By now we know the drill all too well. The strategy entails increased vaccine uptake in the general population and the use of facemasks indoors and on public transportation. Adequate ventilation is also vital in workplace and classroom environments.

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Today’s dominant variant, BA.5, is the most contagious strain yet. This means that it’s increasingly difficult to avoid infection, despite precautions.

So we have no grounds for becoming blase .

It is worth emphasising once again that prevention is so much better than cure, especially in light of what we now know about the impact and scope of long-Covid.

The unpalatable truth is that we are going to be dealing with these threats for years to come. Latest guidance suggests that people should act based on their own risk level.

Personal autonomy has been restored and we must exercise it responsibly.

Special consideration must be given to the immunocompromised. Our past errors can empower, not encumber us, in managing the future, providing we learn from them.

We must therefore renew our efforts as we move towards autumn to protect not only ourselves, but others in so far as possible.

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