There is no point in delaying reopening any further with no reason to expect case rates to improve in the Autumn.
Maynooth Immunology Professor Paul Moynagh is warning that Ireland’s high vaccination rate means things are now likely to be “as good as they are going to get.”
It comes amid reports that NPHET will not recommend any further easing of restrictions next week – with health officials concerned that the peak of the current wave will now not come until next month.
The Cabinet sub-committee on COVID is meeting today to discuss a roadmap for ending the country's remaining Covid-19 restrictions.
The plan, which is expected to include proposals for the reopening of events and nightclubs, will not be signed off by Cabinet until the end of the month.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, Professor Moynagh said there is no sense in delaying reopening any further.
“Really the point I am making is we could be getting close to the stage where things are as good as they are going to be,” he said.
“We have 90% of the population singly vaccinated and 83% fully vaccinated and these vaccines are doing what they were supposed to do – they are protecting us really well against serious illness and hospitalisation.
“There will be breakthrough infections … so we are not going to be able to eradicate this virus because these vaccines will not give us sterilising immunity.
“So, I think the context has to be that we are getting very close to – if not already at – the point where things are as good as they are going to get so that should be reflected in some of the things we are thinking about.”
He said the Government should have been more ambitious with reopening earlier in the summer.
“I thought the summer would have been a good time to open up quite a lot of the activities,” he said.
“We did pilots back in the middle of the summer – for example, outdoor events in the Iveagh Gardens – which were essentially set up in such a way that there was no risk. So, it was a pointless exercise.
“Instead, at that stage, we should have been looking at events that would mirror what actually happens in reality. Trying to capture and reflect that risk and put in place and evaluate measures that would mitigate that risk.
“Instead, we are still talking about pilots in that situation.”
Professor Moynagh said there is no reason to believe things will be any better in September.
“This is the problem I had during the summer when we decided not to open various things,” he said.
“Were we seriously saying we were going to open up things at the beginning of September when schools were opening and universities and we were heading into the winter months?
“Things do not get easier and we need to be upfront about that.”
He said we are now close to a situation where the virus is endemic in Ireland.
“We are getting close to as good as we are going to get so again, I don’t quite see the reasoning in terms of continuously delaying things,” he said.
“We are at the stage now where we have certain sectors that need help and need support and need to begin opening up that probably should have been opened up earlier – I think we need to look at that.”
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