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‘Winter will be challenging’: Ireland needs to brace itself for six more months of Covid-19 pandemic


Dr Cillian de Gascun of the National Virus Reference Laboratory. Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

Dr Cillian de Gascun of the National Virus Reference Laboratory. Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

Dr Cillian de Gascun of the National Virus Reference Laboratory. Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

People have been warned they face another six months of the Covid-19 pandemic as it emerged a fully vaccinated person in their mid-30s with the virus has died.

It comes as the spread of the virus is rising in all counties except for Meath and Offaly.

Irish-born Dr Susan Hopkins, a senior executive in Public Health England, told a seminar in Dublin the pandemic was likely to last for the next six months.

“This winter will be challenging... at the moment we are still in the middle of a ­pandemic. That is where we are likely to be for the next six months,” she said as she addressed the St Luke’s symposium organised by the Royal College of Physicians.

Earlier, Dr Cillian de Gascun, of the National Virus Reference Laboratory, told the gathering the current generation of vaccines were “not enough to end this pandemic”.

He said: ”Pandemic viruses don’t just disappear.”

It comes as a new report from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) here shows for the first time a death in a fully vaccinated ­person under the age of 50.

The report, which covers April 1 to October 9, shows 155 deaths were among people fully vaccinated.

They ranged in age from 35 to 99 with a mean age of 81.

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Most deaths were in people who were unvaccinated or who had got just one dose of a vaccine.

A separate report on patients with Covid-19 admitted to intensive care during that time found one in five – 82 out of 402 – were fully vaccinated.

They ranged in age from 30 to 88 years of age.

But most admitted to intensive care were not fully protected through vaccination with 279 having no jab.

There were 278 Covid-19 patients admitted to intensive care between June 27 and October 2. Of these, 57 died in intensive care.

Three-quarters of the patients had underlying conditions. Some were in intensive care for more than two months.

Ten were aged 15-24 and he highest number were in the 67-74 year age groups who made up 67 patients seriously ill in intensive care.

Among those who had underlying conditions the main illness was chronic heart disease, followed by high blood pressure, chronic kidney disease and chronic liver ­disease.

Others had chronic neurological disease, cancer , HIV or long-term respiratory disease.

The patients also included people who had obesity and diabetes.

It comes as another 1,914 cases of the virus were reported yesterday amid serious concerns at the increase in the spread of Covid-19.

There were 413 Covid-19 patients in hospital, a fall of two on the previous day. But the number in intensive care rose to 73, an increase of three in that time.

Around 300,000 adults have still not availed of the Covid-19 vaccine.

Another 70,000 have had one dose, leaving them at risk of the virus.

The National Immunisation Advisory Committee is currently assessing evidence on Covid-19 booster vaccines and may give direction next week on the age groups they should be extended to.

Meanwhile, no case of winter flu has yet been detected here.

The flu vaccine, in the form of a nasal spray, will be offered to children from next week.

However, the HPSC said the World Health Organisation was advising countries to remain vigilant for the ­likelihood of flu this winter and to be prepared for co-­circulation of the virus with Covid-19.

It is seeing very high levels of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), which affects young children. GPs are also reporting a high level of seasonal viruses already this year.

Experts believe that following lockdown and anti-Covid measures means that people will be more vulnerable to cold and flu as they mix more.

Visit our Covid-19 vaccine dashboard for updates on the roll out of the vaccination program and the rate of Coronavirus cases Ireland

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