The one shot Johnson and Johnson Janssen vaccine has been approved and has been shown to be 66 per cent effective in preventing symptomatic Covid-19. However, it uses similar viral vector technology to AstraZeneca and may have similar side effects.
In the meantime across the North, there have been 54 new cases out of 1,476 tested and no deaths with the toll now at 2,153 and the total number with a positive test at 122,731.
20 Covid patients are in hospital with two in intensive care with bed occupancy at 103 per cent. There are four active outbreaks in care homes.
Little is being said about the sickest who need transfer to ECMO ‘oxygenation’ Centres in GB (or Dublin), some apparently by military transport.
1,709,453 vaccines have been given with 1,040,697 first doses and 654,624 second doses. On Friday past, 6,010 vaccine doses were given with 2,364 first doses and 3,646 second doses. All over 18 are now eligible. There are 374 cases in the republic with 99 in hospital and 35 in intensive care.
It is thought that with the ‘Indian’ variant B.1.617.2 (renamed Delta by WHO) two doses are needed, particularly for the over 50s and those with co-morbidities. Vaccines have been very effective in reducing illness from Covid-19 including the B117 Kent variant (Alpha).
The North may be forced to slow down the easing of restrictions in order to bolster the number of people who have had two vaccinations. This comes amid concerns of a third wave and the potential need to postpone 21 June date when restrictions were to be lifted in England.
Concern is over the increased prevalence of the ‘Indian’ variant. There has been an exponential growth in the number of cases and the explosive impact might be being masked by the high vaccination rate.
In the Republic, outdoor hospitality is due to open on 7 June and indoor hospitality on 5 July. The B1.617.2 Delta variant of concern is more transmissible than the current B117 (Kent) Alpha variant putting more strain on HSE and HSCS even at current levels of vaccinations potentially fuelling a more rapid surge.
Increasing travel between Ireland and England could see further rises.
Military medics are being withdrawn back to GB are estimated as having given 100,000 vaccinations and, apparently evacuated, some sick patients to GB.
Slowing down re-opening to allow the completion of the two dose vaccination programme might mitigate the spread of Covid.
98 per cent of over 60s have responded while less under 40-year-old infected cases are ending up in hospital.
In this pandemic success has led to complacency and complacency has lead to failure.
We must continue to be vigilant.