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'Naive' to think vaccines would be enough against Covid - De Gascun

Dr Cillian de Gascun said there is a “valid fear” of similar hopes being placed on booster vaccines.

Image: Sasko Lazarov/RollingNews.ie

IT WAS “NAIVE” to think that vaccines would be enough to prevent the spread of Covid-19, according to a member of NPHET. 

Director of the National Virus Reference Laboratory Dr Cillian de Gascun said there is also “a valid fear” of misplaced hopes with booster vaccines, for which the HSE intends on upping its public health campaign next week.

Ireland is on a “very concerning and worrying trajectory”, Dr de Gascun said, with the Delta variant of the virus “not quite as susceptible to the vaccine” as previously thought. 

This, combined with waning immunity, has put the country on its current path, he told Newstalk

further 5,959 cases of Covid-19 were confirmed in Ireland today, with 43 deaths reported in the past week.

“I think we all thought that when we saw the effectiveness of the vaccines that we’d be in a better position, and maybe that was a little bit, I suppose, naive if we look back on it,” Dr de Gascun told broadcaster Anton Savage this morning.

“But at the same time, we have to go on the data that we have at the time, and obviously we were dealing primarily with a different virus at the time.”

He said it is fair to have concerns if similar hopes are placed on the booster vaccine for people who have already received their inoculation. 

“I think it’s a valid fear. And I think the challeng with Covid over the last couple years is that nobody can tell you what’s going to happen. 

“There is nobody living today who has gone through an experience where a novel Coronavirus has crossed the species barrier to become a pandemic  – so nobody has been through this before.”

Speaking later on RTÉ’s Saturday with Katie Hannon, Dr de Gascun said the public health measures people have been following over the last two years remain effective, but “we have to do them better and do them for a longer period of time to get the same benefit with Delta”. 

Minister of State Malcolm Noonan told the same programme that members of the public need to exercise personal responsibility to protect the most vulnerable. 

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Labour senator Marie Sherlock said not enough has been done to protect workers who face losing out on work following the reintroduced restrictions this week, saying that the hospitality industry has been put on a “rollercoaster” thanks to government measures.

She added that there are “serious questions” around the five-day isolation rule for workers, with concerns high that they’ll end up being out of pocket.

The HSE told The Journal today that it will be increasing its booster vaccine campaign on Monday. 

This will stress the importance of the booster dose in protecting people from severe illness and hospitalisation from Covid-19.

More information can be found on the HSE website.

With reporting by Hayley Halpin

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