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Foreign travel ban for 400,000 Irish people who have only received one AstraZeneca vaccine dose

They can avail of the vaccine “bonus”, with one dose after 28 days, allowing certain limited meeting up with others indoors, but “this does not include foreign travel."

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'We know from the UK that one shot of AstraZeneca is not giving the same level of protection from the Delta variant as two shots,' said Professor of Biochemistry at TCD, Luke O'Neill

'We know from the UK that one shot of AstraZeneca is not giving the same level of protection from the Delta variant as two shots,' said Professor of Biochemistry at TCD, Luke O'Neill

Dr Jamie O’Sullivan, a research lecturer within the Irish Centre for Vascular Biology at RCSI

Dr Jamie O’Sullivan, a research lecturer within the Irish Centre for Vascular Biology at RCSI

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'We know from the UK that one shot of AstraZeneca is not giving the same level of protection from the Delta variant as two shots,' said Professor of Biochemistry at TCD, Luke O'Neill

More than 400,000 people who are waiting for a second dose of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine have been told they cannot travel abroad.

The “vaccine bonus” for those who are a month on from their first AstraZeneca jab does not involve foreign travel, the updated advice from the HSE has warned.

People in their 60s, and a significant number of those with underlying conditions, have been left waiting for a second dose of the vaccine, which will take at least eight weeks, but may be even longer for many.

They can avail of the vaccine “bonus”, with one dose after 28 days, allowing certain limited meeting up with others indoors, but “this does not include foreign travel."

The EU Digital Certificate, paving the way for travel within the bloc, is due to be operational here from July 19.

The HSE does not specify the same travel restriction for people who received one dose of the other vaccines.

Public Health England has previously found that one dose of vaccine gives just 33pc protection against the more infectious Delta variant that originated in India.

It said yesterday that two doses of the Pfizer vaccine give 96pc protection while the AstraZeneca gives 92pc.

It comes amid concern at the inevitable rise in the Delta variant, with around 140 cases detected here so far. Another 242 cases of coronavirus were diagnosed yesterday.

In Britain the lifting all remaining restrictions, which had been due to take place on June 21, was put on hold with Covid-19 cases at a three-month high.

There are no indications as yet that the next step on the road out of lockdown in this country – the return of indoor trade in pubs and restaurants in early July – will be deferred by the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) which will meet next week.

Luke O’Neill, professor of biochemistry at Trinity College, advised people who have had one dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine to take care.

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“We know from the UK that one shot of AstraZeneca is not giving the same level of protection from the Delta variant as two shots, so I would think those who have had one shot of AstraZeneca will have to take some precautions until they’ve had their second shot,” he said.

“We’re lucky in that there doesn’t seem to be a huge amount of the Delta variant around, at least currently. The goal has to be to get the second shot into the vulnerable people – including the over-60s – as quickly as possible.”

A new study yesterday said the Delta variant was associated with around double the risk of hospitalisation compared with the Alpha variant.

Based on data analysed from 5.4 million people in Scotland, the Delta variant is now the dominant form of Covid-19 cases in the country, overtaking the Alpha variant first identified in Kent.

During the period studied – April 1 to June 6, 2021 – there were 19,543 cases and 377 hospitalisations where a specific variant of Covid-19 was confirmed. Some 7,723 cases and 134 hospitalisations were found to have the Delta virus.

Meanwhile an effective ban on travel from countries in South America and Africa deemed to be high risk at the height of the pandemic is to be lifted.

Justice Minister Heather Humphreys is to end emergency measures requiring passengers from these regions to obtain a visa to travel to Ireland. However, people arriving from these countries will have to undergo mandatory hotel quarantine.

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