Over 90% OF Irish people over the age of 16 are now fully vaccinated against Covid-19, the highest rate in the European Union, HSE chief executive Paul Reid has said.
The latest vaccine statistics show that over 7.1 million vaccine doses have been administered and more than 90% of people aged over the age of 16 are now fully vaccinated.
Ireland now has the highest rate of Covid-19 vaccine uptake in the European Union.
Testing for Covid-19 would be radically scaled back under plans being considered by the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet), as harm associated with the virus is reduced.
A paper on transitioning away from the “unprecedented” mass testing regime that has been put in place details a “stepwise” approach away from the current system.
Among the first steps would be advising against testing vaccinated people with mild respiratory symptoms, and testing of children under 13 with mild symptoms to be discouraged if they do not deteriorate over 48 hours.
“The success of the vaccination programme requires a fundamental revaluation of the approach to testing for Sars-CoV-2 and how it links to the evolving public health response,” according the discussion paper, which was submitted to Nphet in late July and released under the Freedom of Information Act.
With Covid likely to become endemic in the global population, alongside reduced harm due to vaccines, “we need to begin to consider how we plan to transition towards placing testing … back in the framework within which we test for other infections,” the paper’s author, Prof Martin Cormican, argues.
Prof Cormican, who is the HSE’s leading expert on infection control, says this will mean testing for coronavirus “much more selectively”. This would mean usually testing only when requested by a healthcare professional, as part of managing an outbreak, or surveillance testing for the disease more in line with how the prevalence of other respiratory viruses is monitored.
“Planning for a transition from open access or mass scale… testing is important because as [harm] declines, the negative impacts of testing on the current scale are likely to become disproportionate to the benefits to human health.”
Nine in ten eligible adults in the Republic of Ireland have been fully vaccinated, the Irish health service has said.
More than 7 million vaccines are to have been administered in Ireland by Friday.
Taoiseach (Irish PM) Micheál Martin described reaching the 90% vaccination threshold and the seven millionth vaccine as “two major milestones”.
The vaccine rollout is continuing, with children aged 12 and over now eligible.
On Friday, the chief executive of Ireland’s Health Service Executive (HSE), Paul Reid, said hospitalisations in Ireland were “trending downwards”.
The latest data from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre shows a further reduction in the 14-day incidence of Covid-19 in Ireland.
Data compiled up to 1 September puts the 14-day incidence at 491 cases for every 100,000 people.
Under its most recent optimistic projections, NPHET suggested that daily cases numbers could reach 3,000 a day, by the middle of this month.
The latest HPSC report puts the average daily case numbers for the two weeks to 1 September at 1,670.
More than 6.9 million vaccines have been administered so far and around 89% of the adult population has been fully vaccinated against Covid-19, with around 92% partially vaccinated.
Prof Brian MacCraith said 87.8% of over 18s have received two doses and 91.7% of this age cohort have received one dose.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Brendan O’Connor programme, he said we are now at the “final furlong” of the vaccination programme and that the “emergency phase” of the roll-out will finish at the end of September.
He said that the uptake among the 12-15 years olds is slower with about 50% having come forward for vaccination so far.
Prof MacCraith expects that this will reach about 60%, and he said he believes the lower uptake in this category is due to the need for dialogue with parents.
The Chief Executive of the HSE Paul Reid said: “The finishing line of this phase of the vaccination programme is so close now.”
6.5 million Covid-19 vaccines have been administered in Ireland so far.
In a post on Twitter, he said that 84% of the adult population is now fully vaccinated and over 90% are partially vaccinated.
“Today I would like to make a very specific and clear call to those who have not yet come forward for vaccination. The first message is very clearly, be assured, vaccinations are working.
“The evidence is extremely strong, in terms of reduced illness, reduced hospitalisations coming through, reduced ICU admissions, and indeed, reduced mortality.”
As of this morning, there were 244 patients with Covid-19 in hospitals, down from 249 on the same period yesterday.
Mr Reid said that if you are vaccinated, you have significantly higher levels of protection from being hospitalised or entering ICU.
He said the highest percentage of patients with Covid-19 in ICU are unvaccinated, with 62% of ICU cases in hospitals not vaccinated at all.
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UNICEF says it has been ‘blown away’ by the Irish response to its vaccination donation scheme – in which more than a million Covid-19 vaccines have been donated to some of the poorest countries in the world.
The global charity said its support from Irish individuals and companies for its ‘Get a Vaccine, Give a Vaccine’ campaign that was only launched a few weeks ago has been phenomenal.
“Thanks to support from the Irish public for Unicef’s ongoing ‘Get a Vaccine, Give a Vaccine’ campaign, one million life-saving Covid-19 vaccines will now be delivered to healthcare workers and vulnerable people in countries with little or no access to vaccines,” the charity said.
The campaign has raised more than €2.5m since it was launched, calling not only on Irish people to get the jab but to donate one to someone in need in the developing world.
The Irish campaign – supported by Unicef ambassador, actor Liam Neeson, who appeared in the campaign’s video and radio ads – is part of the charity’s “historic global effort to ensure fair and safe access to Covid-19 vaccines”.
“Unicef has developed the largest vaccination cold chain in the world for childhood immunisation, and is now using this to deliver Covid vaccines. This critical worldwide effort aims to support the delivery of two billion Covid vaccine doses this year alone,” it said.
Meanwhile, Unicef Ireland executive director Peter Power said the charity has been inspired by the response from individuals and companies across Ireland.
Scientists in Ireland have identified how some COVID-19 patients can develop life-threatening clots. The researchers said the findings could lead to therapies that prevent it from happening.
The work, led by researchers from RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences, is published in the Journal of Thrombosis and Haemostasis.
Previous research has established that blood clotting is a significant cause of death in patients with COVID-19.
They found that the balance between a protein that causes clotting, called von Willebrand Factor (VWF), and its regulator, called ADAMTS13, is severely disrupted in patients with severe COVID-19. When compared to control groups, the blood of COVID-19 patients had higher levels of the pro-clotting VWF molecules and lower levels of the anti-clotting ADAMTS13.
The researchers also identified other changes in proteins that caused the reduction of ADAMTS13.
Dr Jamie O’Sullivan, the study’s author and research lecturer within the Irish Centre for Vascular Biology at RCSI, said that the research helps provide insights into the mechanisms that cause severe blood clots in patients with COVID-19. It is critical to developing more effective treatments, she said.
Some 70 per cent of adults in Ireland will have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 by the end of July, Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said.
Speaking on Newstalk radio, Mr Martin acknowledged the initial target of 82 per cent of adults with a first dose by the end of June was not going to be met.
“I think we are in a good position. I think the target we are aiming for is by the end of July – and this is a target dependent on supply – is that we will have 70 per cent fully vaccinated.”
The recent decision to shorten the interval between AstraZeneca doses would help the HSE hit the new target, he said, which was in line with where Europe “wants to be by the end of July.”
Mr Martin said June looked like being a very good month in terms of vaccination targets. “The last two weeks of June is looking good in terms of security of Pfizer/BioNTech in particular.”