Another 3,735 people in Ireland have tested positive for COVID-19, the Department of Health has confirmed.
566 hospital patients have tested positive for the virus, of whom 117 are being treated in ICU.
The five-day moving average is 4,361 - up slightly from 4,347 yesterday.
However, NPHET member Dr Cillian De Gasgun believes that once the booster campaign ramps up, the numbers will begin to drop off again:
“We saw over time that the vaccine effect has waned with Delta.
“And while we had an incredibly high uptake in the course of people’s primary courses. What we’ve seen now is that in reality the primary course for these vaccines is probably three doses.
“And I think that when we get to everyone with three doses and everyone’s been boosted, then we’ll be in a better position to see exactly what the future looks like.”
Dr De Gasgun also said that the vaccine should be able to offer substantial protection against the new Omicron variant:
“Alpha was very different to [the original] Wuhan [strain], Delta was more different to Wuhan.
“And what we’ve seen is that the vaccines still retain an effectiveness against those variants - certainly against severe illness and against hospitalisation.
“It certainly isn’t implausible that if it’s more transmissible it may certainly cause more infections but actually there’s no reason to believe that the cellular arm of the immune system won’t be effective at protecting against severe disease and hospitalisation.”
On Saturday Minister for the Environment Eamonn Ryan told The Anton Savage Show that he felt “frightened” when he was given the news of the Omicron COVID variant.
However, a South African GP, Dr Angelique Coetzee, told Newstalk that all her patients who have contracted the new variant have experienced mild symptoms so far:
“Some of them have been vaccinated but they’ve all got very mild symptoms. Currently, I’ve only seen one patient about the age of 60.
“Most of the patients are young. That’s not to say we will not see the elderly patients going forward… so let’s see what happens going forward.”
Main image: A medic examines a coronavirus test in full PPE. Picture by: Evgenii Parilov / Alamy Stock Photo