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Number of hospitalised Covid-19 patients falls further as EMA set to approve Johnson & Johnson dose

A total of 345 people were in hospital with the virus as of 8pm last night.

There are currently 92 people in ICU
There are currently 92 people in ICU
Image: Sasko Lazarov

Updated Mar 11th 2021, 9:44 AM

THE NUMBER OF people hospitalised with Covid-19 in Ireland continues to fall as the European Medicines Agency is set to approve the Johnson & Johnson one-shot vaccine today. 

A total of 345 people were in hospital with the virus as of 8pm last night -  a reduction of 25 patients on what was reported yesterday morning. 

There are currently 92 people in ICU. 

It comes as the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) said that all key indicators of the disease continue to improve but amid continued setbacks in Ireland’s vaccine rollout. 

Public health officials last night confirmed a further 631 new cases of Covid-19 and 47 additional deaths in Ireland -  the five-day moving average stands at 488 cases. 

Vaccination 

Amid shortfalls in supply across the EU there was welcome news yesterday after the bloc announced it had secured an additional 4 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech dose – 46,500 of which will arrive in Ireland in the coming weeks. 

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said the delay in the vaccine rollout won’t prevent the government from easing restriction by 5 April as the country is making “good progress” in suppressing the virus. 

Varadkar indicated there would be some “modest” easing of restrictions, such as reopening construction, lifting the five-kilometre rule, and allowing more outdoor activities.

At total of 525, 768 doses had been administered in Ireland up to Sunday – 375,521 of these were first doses and 150, 247 were second doses. 

However, the country is expected to miss its Q1 target of 1.2 million doses due to supply shortfalls, with calls continuing for government to approach other countries to negotiate vaccine deals. 

A government spokesperson previously confirmed that Irish officials had been in touch with other EU countries, as well as pharmaceutical companies abroad and at home, about securing extra supplies.

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly was challenged at last night’s Fianna Fáil parliamentary party meeting over delays in the vaccine roll out and for stating that there are not private supply lines that can be pursued.

Donnelly said there have been many people getting in touch with Department of Health saying they can help with vaccine supply, but he told party members that all leads have resulted in dead ends.

There are “no secret warehouses” and “no vaccine mountain”, he said. 

It comes as the EMA is set to approve the Johnson & Johnson vaccine today for use across Europe. 

Because of its one-dose regime and the fact that it can be stored at fridge temperatures – as well as high efficacy results in trials – governments across the EU have been eagerly awaiting its approval as they struggle to roll-out vaccinations on a large scale. 

This week HSE CEO Paul Reid said 3.8 million vaccine doses are expected to be delivered to Ireland in Q2, including the 600,000 Johnson & Johnson doses. 

The health service has been challenged in the roll-out by unexpected delivery shortfalls from all three manufacturers with EU-approved vaccines. Reid acknowledged that there have been up to 17 changes to vaccine plans so far due to these supply issues, as well as sequencing adjustments.

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Now it appears an 18th change is on the horizon, as the bulk of Johnson & Johnson’s deliveries are now not expected to arrive in Ireland until June. 

Health officials, meanwhile, have indicated that it will be later this week or early next week before they have a clear picture of whether or not the return to schools is leading to an increase in viral transmission. 

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