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virus fears Ireland needs to brace for six more months of Covid-19 pandemic, doctor warns

Dr Susan Hopkins told a seminar in Dublin the pandemic will likely last for the next half year.

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Dr Cillian de Gascun of the National Virus Reference Laboratory. Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

Dr Cillian de Gascun of the National Virus Reference Laboratory. Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

Dr Cillian de Gascun of the National Virus Reference Laboratory. Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

People were warned yesterday they face another six months of the Covid pandemic - as it emerged a fully vaccinated person in their mid-30s has died with the virus.

It comes as the spread of Covid is rising in all counties except Meath and Offaly.

Irish-born Dr Susan Hopkins, a senior executive in Public Health England, told a seminar in Dublin the pandemic will likely last for the next six months.

"This winter will be challenging... at the moment we are still in the middle of a pandemic," she told the St Luke's symposium, organised by the Royal College of Physicians.

"That is where we are likely to be for the next six months."

Earlier, Dr Cillian de Gascun, of the National Virus Reference Laboratory, told the gathering that the current generation of vaccines are "not enough to end this pandemic".

"Pandemic viruses don't just disappear," de Gascun (inset) said.

It comes as a new report from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) shows for the first time a death in a fully vaccinated person under the age of 50.

The report, which covers April 1 to October 9, shows 155 deaths were among people who were fully vaccinated.

They ranged in age from 35 to 99, with a mean age of 81.

Most deaths were in unvaccinated people or those with just one dose of a vaccine.

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A separate report on patients with Covid-19 admitted to intensive care during that time found one in five - 82 out of 402 - were fully vaccinated.

They ranged in age from 30 to 88. But most admitted to intensive care were not fully protected through vaccination, with 279 having no jab.

There were 278 Covid-19 patients admitted to intensive care between June 27 and October 2. Of these, 57 died in intensive care.

Three-quarters of the patients had underlying conditions.

Some were in intensive care for more than two months.

Ten were aged 15 to 24, but most were in the 67 to 74 age group, which accounted for 67 patients seriously ill in intensive care.

Among those who had underlying conditions, the main illness was chronic heart disease, followed by high blood pressure, chronic kidney disease and chronic liver disease.

Others had chronic neurological disease, cancer, HIV or long-term respiratory disease.

They also included people with obesity and diabetes.

It comes as another 1,914 cases were reported yesterday, amid serious concerns at the increase in the spread of Covid-19.

There were 413 patients in hospital, a fall of two since the previous day. But the number in intensive care rose to 73, an increase of three in that time.

Around 300,000 adults have still not availed of the Covid-19 vaccine and another 70,000 have had one dose, leaving them at risk of the virus.

The National Immunisation Advisory Committee (Niac) is currently assessing evidence on Covid-19 booster vaccines and may give direction next week on the age groups they should be extended to.

Meanwhile, no case of winter flu has yet been detected here.

The flu vaccine, in the form of a nasal spray, will be offered to children from next week.

However, the Health Protection Surveillance Centre said the World Health Organisation (WHO) is advising countries to remain vigilant for the likelihood of flu this winter and to be prepared for co-circulation the virus with Covid-19.

It is seeing very high levels of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), which affects young children. GPs are also reporting a high level of seasonal viruses already this year.

Experts believe that following lockdown and anti-Covid measures, people will be more vulnerable to cold and flu as they mix more.

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