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Vaccine rollout: Ireland still on track for 80% target by early July but data is patchy due to cyberattack

If there are no further supply problems or safety concerns, Ireland is still firmly on track to hit that 80% target in early July.

EACH WEEK WE’VE been taking a look at Ireland’s Covid-19 situation by examining and comparing data from previous weeks. 

With just over one month until the Government’s target date of giving 80% of adults in Ireland at least a first dose, let’s take a look at our progress. 

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The HSE provides granular detail on the progress of the rollout, allowing it to be tracked in a reasonably precise way.

However, while the crippling cyberattack on the health service’s computer systems didn’t impact the vaccine rollout, it has impacted the publication of data relating to it.

This means we can’t offer the usual estimate we give in this piece every week – of when Ireland might hit the crucial target of 80% of the eligible population being administered a first dose.

But from the data that is available, it’s clear that we’re still on track.

HSE chief executive Paul Reid told a HSE press briefing this week that more than 1.6 million first doses had been administered as of Wednesday.

NO REPRO FEE HSE weekly briefing 008 HSE CEO Paul Reid Source: Leon Farrell

This would put Ireland pretty much exactly on the trajectory we predicted last week, as this equals just shy of 41% of the eligible population with a first dose.

He said 563,000 people are fully vaccinated, which equals 14.4% of the population.

But these are not the full figures; as many as 40,000 doses administered by GPs are yet to be validated and included in the total number.

This means the pace of vaccination has increased yet again, with as many as 290,000 doses being administered in just one week. The record for doses administered in one day was broken as well, Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.

If there are no further supply problems or safety concerns, Ireland is still firmly on track to hit that 80% target in early July.

The potential stumbling block here is Johnson & Johnson deliveries. Reid said there is currently a lack of clarity of when doses will arrive in June, and in what numbers.

Just 60,000 have been delivered so far.

The Department of Health was unable to provide delivery figures for the past week.

The registration portal opened this week for those aged 45 to 49 (people aged 46 to 49 can register now, with registration opening for those aged 45 tomorrow). It was inaccessible for a time on Thursday but is now back online.

Meanwhile, the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) this week confirmed a total of 1,690 new Covid-19 cases between Monday and Thursday – compared to 1,664 new cases reported over the same period last week and 1,647 the previous week. 

However, validation of these cases may change due to the HSE attack. 

There were 107 patients being treated for Covid-19 in hospital, 38 of whom are in ICU, as of Friday.

The figures from the department did not contain any information about recorded deaths connected to Covid-19.

Data relating to the number of Covid-19 deaths, as well as case numbers by county, have been affected by last week’s cyber attack on Ireland’s health service.Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan said that the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) is continuing to monitor variants of concern.

“NPHET is closely monitoring variants of concern, and are concerned about possible higher transmissibility of the so called Indian variant and its spread in other countries as well as early reports of its impact on vaccine effectiveness,” said Holohan.

“The public are keeping the disease under control and the HSE is increasing the number of people vaccinated every day. But the variant may nevertheless pose a risk to the progress we have made.

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“NPHET will keep a close eye on this as we move towards the end of May and consider the advice we need to provide to Government on any further easing of restrictions.”

There have been a total of 72 cases of the so-called Indian variant identified so far, and it is a concern. 

Dr Tony Holohan described the situation like this:

“In broad terms, so you could characterise it as the skies are, for the most part, blue but there is a black cloud on the horizon which is the Indian variant. We are genuinely concerned about the reports we’re seeing, the credibility we attached to them, around the increased transmissibility associated with that particular variant.”

Despite all this, Chair of the Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group, Professor Philip Nolan says that indicators of the disease are stable.

“Despite recent challenges to the Health Service’s IT systems, we continue to monitor key indicators of the disease in Ireland. The number of people hospitalised and in ICU are stable, the daily incidence is stable and the amount of people protected through vaccination continues to grow.”

With systems down due to the recent ransomware attack, the HPSC are reporting daily cases to the department based on those daily positive lab results. Validation of these results will re-commence once systems are back up and running. 

About the author:

Cónal Thomas & Nicky Ryan

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