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latest figures Coronavirus Ireland: 12 deaths and 1,024 new Covid-19 cases announced as chief warns of vaccine delay

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Paul Reid CEO of the HSE pictured at the launch of the Covid-19 tracker App at the Dept of Health.Picture Credit:Frank McGrath 7/7/20

Paul Reid CEO of the HSE pictured at the launch of the Covid-19 tracker App at the Dept of Health.Picture Credit:Frank McGrath 7/7/20

Paul Reid CEO of the HSE pictured at the launch of the Covid-19 tracker App at the Dept of Health.Picture Credit:Frank McGrath 7/7/20

A further 12 people have died after contracting Covid-19 while 1,024 new cases of the illness were announced this evening.

Meanwhile, HSE Chief Executive Paul Reid has revealed it could be mid-May before the vaccination of over-70s will be completed.

It had originally be planned that this group would have received their first dose by the end of March, but this is now likely to the middle of April.

The original plans were based on three vaccines being used. However the decision was made last Thursday to make the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines the preferential jabs for the over-70s because there is still not enough evidence to show how much protection the AstraZeneca vaccine gives to older people.

Speaking on RTE’s This Week programme, Mr Reid said that the latest figures which showed a downward trend in the number of patients being hositalised with Covid-19 reflected some relief for the hospital system.

There were 1,208 Covid-19 cases in hospital and 178 in intensive care units today.

“We are a long way from out of the woods and the pressure on our hospital system just yet, but thankfully the actions of the public are proving beneficial for us. It is working, but we have a hospital system still under significant pressure."

Speaking about the next phase of the vaccination programme, he said that there are about 1,300 approximately GPs across the country, and over 900 of those will carry out the vaccinations to 80pc of the cohorts greater than 70 years of age in their own practice.

"Then then there be probably three bigger vaccination centres in Dublin, Cork and Galway that we have organised already, and then the remaining will be a kind of ‘buddying up’ system where we have bigger practices, and GPs will ‘buddy up’ together.”

In relation to these three hubs, he said they will ultimately be GP-led practice hubs.

“We are in parallel working on a overall plan for bigger vaccination centres all across the country."

“We have significant progress made across those deployments all across the country and equally in terms of the work force that would be needed to do that. We have made really good progress about where we will deploy vaccination centres all across the country.”

"We will start as planned on 15 February, Monday week, in terms of addressing the 85-plus age cohorts in the first instance.”

Meanwhile, he spoke about how elderly people living in remote areas will be assisted to access their Covid-19 vaccinations.

Mr Reid said that since last March, the Defence Forces had been hugely supportive of the HSE in terms of contact tracing swabbing centres, nursing homes, medics, vaccinations. “They have again offered help for us in terms in terms of reaching the most vulnerable."

He said that he wanted to assure people who were immobile and can’t get to some centres that “they will not be left behind.”

"If it is a transport issue, that will be arranged. We have good arrangements with local authorities who would work with the HSE in terms of transporting patients. The Defence Forces have offered help, and we will also consider how we can get to their homes too.”

He said there are approximately 480,000 people in the 70-plus age category in this country. Based on predicted supplies between now and March, for the over-70s, it looks like the first dose will be completed by the middle of April and then the second dose will be completed by the middle of May, Mr Reid said.

Earlier today on RTÉ, speaking with Brendan O’Connor, Professor Brian MacCraith, the chair of the high level taskforce on Covid-19 vaccination, said that: “The expectation is that the over 70s would have their first dose completed by around the middle of April, a couple of weeks later than originally planned.

"But we have to bear in mind that the original models were using three vaccines for the over-70s and now we are restricted to two vaccines, so it’s bound to be slightly later. “

He said it would be early to mid-May for the second dose, but pointed out the projections were supply driven.

“We are all very, very cautious at this stage about any specific targets.

"The only target we are working to is this, that we administer vaccines as soon as they arrive and as quickly as possible.

"We had just under 200,000 vaccinations delivered by the end of last Sunday and 207,000 vaccine doses had arrived by that same day. So we are really operating right up to the maximum here.”

He said that the taskforce will be meeting tomorrow, and will be looking at the various vaccination centres, that will be large and small that will be distributed around the country that will make it easy for everyone to get to their vaccination.

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