Ireland has to 'get lucky' this winter to keep the health system running.
That's according to Anthony Staines, professor of health systems at the School of Nursing and Human Sciences at DCU.
He was speaking as the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) warned Irish hospitals "won't cope this winter" amid a so-called 'twindemic' of COVID-19 and flu.
But Prof Staines told The Hard Shoulder the signs are good.
"The good news is the Australian flu season - although it was significant - wasn't as bad as their worst flu seasons have been.
"So please God we'll be in the same situation, with a more normal flu season.
"But if we come in with a flu season and the current levels of COVID - and levels of COVID are going down... but may not continue.
"And if we get both of those - if we get lucky on both of those - we might squeak through this winter.
"What we can do about it [is] we can get vaccinated, it's as simple as that."
'We don't want to go down that road'
Asked what happens if we don't get lucky, he said that's a place we don't want to be in.
"We had something like 40,000 people spending more than 24 hours, just waiting after treatment in Emergency Departments - which is an astronomical number of people.
"We could easily beat that, very easily - and there's a price to be paid for that in terms of deaths, essentially.
"So we can't afford to go there: our elective healthcare will more or less stop.
"There's a huge price to pay for that in terms of pain and suffering for people and avoidable deaths.
"We don't want to go down that road, we really, really don't.
"We could be a in a very, very bad place by February".
And he added that everyone can play their part.
"None of us can create new consultants or nurses, or beds or social care spaces or anything.
"But we can all go out and get vaccinated - we can all go out and keep the windows open, do something about ventilation, wear masks in crowded indoor spaces.
"We can all do that, that's cheap".