Luke O'Neill: COVID-19 is now a preventable disease


Jack Quann
Jack Quann

11.50 8 Jul 2021


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Professor Luke O'Neill says we are closer to the end of the pandemic, and COVID-19 is now preventable.

He says the vaccines have meant a decrease in transmission and infection.

He told The Pat Kenny Show while variants may still crop up, things have changed.

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"This is now a preventable disease - that's the way to put it.

"We can prevent COVID through vaccination, and we couldn't have said that six/nine months ago really.

"So now it's preventable: that means widespread vaccination will prevent COVID-19.

"It'll go away, it might come back occasionally - we've never gotten rid of any infection - smallpox is the only [one] we've eliminated.

"So we'll see spikes into the future remember, and the more you decrease the virus the less variants pop up".

'50% less transmission'

He also went into detail of a new UK study, which followed some 960,000 contacts.

"What they noticed was if you're vaccinated and you get infected - there's a risk of infection if you're vaccinated, remember, a tiny risk.

"But guess what? They weren't transmitting it as much.

"So now we know, well we knew already, if you're vaccinated and you're unlucky enough to get a tiny bit of infection your chance of spreading it is 50% less.

"That just proves that vaccination is stopping transmission.

"That was a big question we had: would vaccination stop you spreading it on?

"So it's really tight data, nearly a million people were followed.

"It was two weeks after the first shot of either AstraZeneca or Pfizer this decrease in transmission kicked in.

"So it still takes a couple of weeks for the vaccine to work its magic, if you will.

"The reason you may be getting infected, by the way, is sometimes the immune system doesn't get to your nose enough.

"It's in your lungs, stops you getting really sick obviously, because if it's in your lungs you're in trouble.

"So maybe a tiny bit grows in your nose, but a lot less than if you're not vaccinated - which means you're less likely now to spread it on to someone else."

And Prof O'Neill says a combination of things will see COVID become like the flu virus.

"So you can imagine now the virus gradually going away in a community because of vaccination.

"It'll become like colds and flus in the end, in that we'll all have it and we'll all have antibodies and we'll be protected for years and years afterwards hopefully.

"Eventually, a combination of vaccination and natural immunity through infection will build up in the population and then that's the way we live with it in the end I guess."

But he adds the big concern will be new variants and where they may come from.

Luke O'Neill: COVID-19 is now a preventable disease

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Main image: Prof Luke O'Neill in Newstalk studios in Dublin. Picture by: Newstalk

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