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As Ireland's vaccines are rolled out, how does this week's Covid-19 data compare to last week's?

Ireland now has one of the lowest incidence rates among European countries, alongside Denmark and Finland.
Apr 10th 2021, 8:00 AM 42,454 42

IRELAND’S INCIDENCE OF Covid-19 is declining. 

A total of 1,586 new cases were confirmed across Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday – compared to 1,854 new cases reported over the same period last week and 2,180 the previous week – marking a drop of 15% since last Friday. 

It appears that cases are no longer stuck. Ireland’s national incidence rate is 147.3 cases per 100,000 of the population on a 14-day rolling average, according to data from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre, compared to 164.9 this day last week and 159.5 on 26 March.

Looking at 14-day incidence rates in individual counties, Offaly remains the county with the highest incidence of Covid-19 in Ireland at 346.3 cases per 100,000.

Westmeath is the second-highest county in Ireland with a 14-day incidence rate of 261.3, while Laois is third-highest at 240.9. 

Looking at Local Electoral Area data, Tullamore, Co Offaly remains the area with the highest individual incidence of Covid-19 at 823.1 cases per 100,000. 

For a breakdown of Covid-19 incidence rates in LEAs around Ireland, see here

Counties with the current lowest incidence rates include Sligo (16.8), Kilkenny (23.2) and Kerry (29.1). 

A total of 75% of cases this week were in people aged under 45, indicating a well-flagged rise in incidence among younger cohorts as vaccination takes effect in older people. 

Looking to Europe, Ireland now has one of the lowest incidence rates among European countries, just slightly behind Denmark (129.15) and Finland (138.17). 

European countries with the highest rate of Covid-19 include Hungary (1117), Poland (988) and France (801). 

Screenshot 2021-04-09 13.42.51 - Display 2 As seen in the above chart the number of deaths associated with Covid-19 has declined significantly since late January. Source: NPHET

At the most recent briefing from the National Public Health Emergency Team [NPHET], the tone was one of cautious optimism as Ireland’s vaccine rollout steadily progresses. 

Ireland did not see a spike in cases after St Patrick’s Day unlike previous holidays, said Professor Philip Nolan, Chair of NPHET’s Epidemiological Modelling Group. 

It is too soon to assess the impact Easter may have had on incidence of the disease, he said, but the continued decline in cases show a “very high level of responsibility in society”. 

Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn said the number of close contacts per case since late February has not increased “at all”.

“The vast majority of people are sticking with it even though they can’t wait to be done with it,” he said. 

Hospital & ICU

The health system is also under less pressure, but cases in hospitals remain high. 

There were 18 hospital admissions in the last 24 hours and 33 discharges. 

There were – as of Friday morning – 226 confirmed Covid-19 cases in hospital and 54 people in Intensive Care Units, indicating a continued decline in hospital figures. 

On Friday 20 March, there were 336 people hospitalised with Covid-19. 

Screenshot 2021-04-08 14.11.41 - Display 2 Hospital cases over between Tuesday and Thursday. Source: CovidHub

Testing & Tracing

Approximately 110,000 tests have been carried out over the past 7 days – a figure which has remained stable since 27 March.

The positivity rate has reduced further to 3% having stood at 3.8% a fortnight ago. 

This indicates a declining level of infection but an increase in testing due to a rise in GP referrals. 

The HSE, meanwhile, has announced five new walk-in testing centres.

According to figures released this week, over 25,000 people attended 12 walk-in centres since they first opened on 27 March. 

A total of 635 cases were detected at these centres over the past 10 days. The positivity rate for tests at these centres is 2.6% overall but 4.2% among 15-24-year-olds.  

The HSE said this week that of those 635 cases identified about 50% of people later developed symptoms. 

As positivity declines, and more cases in the community are identified, clusters and outbreaks reduced by 15% last week with the largest reduction seen in private homes. 

Vaccinations 

Finally, as of Wednesday, 936,085 vaccines had been administered in Ireland – 663,411 were first doses with 272,676 people fully vaccinated against Covid-19. 

Ireland administered its millionth dose on Thursday, although it’s not yet recorded in officials figures due to a lag in publication. 

On Wednesday, the Department of Health released vaccine supply projections for April, May and June for the first time. 

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It is issue that has frustrated the public for months – how many doses should we expect and when? 

It is estimated that 3.9 million doses will be delivered by 30 June, with the Department providing a breakdown of supply by manufacturer for the first time. 

Screenshot 2021-04-07 13.37.08 - Display 2 Source: Department of Health

Ireland is expected to receive 2,128,000 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in Q2 – 546,000 doses in April, 738,000 in May and 844,000 in June. 

The country should expect to receive 383,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine in Q2 – 118,000 in both April and May with 147,000 doses set to be delivered in June. 

These projections show that June will be a key month in Ireland’s vaccine rollout. The Government has committed to giving 80% of adults a first dose by 30 June. 

A total of 1,750,000 doses are expected for delivery in June with 1,250,000 doses expected in May and 929,000 expected in April. 

The vast bulk of Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot vaccine [432,000] are not expected to be delivered until June. 

AstraZeneca – which has caused significant delivery setbacks in Ireland – is expected to supply 813,000 doses in Q2: 224,000 in April, 262,000 in May and 327,000 in June. 

HSE CEO Paul Reid said this week that he expects 170,000-180,000 doses will be administered in Ireland next week compared to 126,000 doses administered this week. 

Reid also said that daily figures for the numbers of doses given will be published in the coming days. 

Overall, the situation as it stands looks positive. 

Cases continue to decline – albeit slowly due to the dominance of the highly-transmissible B117 variant – and Ireland’s vaccine deliveries continue to increase. 

A word of caution, however.

HSE CEO Reid said on Thursday that the coming weeks in terms of vaccine supply will be “bumpy”. 

That the Department has released delivery projections for April, May and June is an  important step. It will be equally important to be transparent about how many doses arrive – or don’t. 

The Journal each Friday takes a look at Ireland’s Covid-19 situation by examining and comparing data from previous weeks. If you’d like to get in touch with any queries related to these figures contact conal@thejournal.ie. 

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Cónal Thomas

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