NPHET has warned that the risk of a new wave of covid-19 over the summer is “considerable”. However, UK experts say a summer wave is no longer expected, and that their initial modelling was overly pessimistic.
Ben Scallan – Gript
NPHET is set to warn the government that if Ireland eases restrictions too fast, there could be another covid-19 wave over the summer months, but that if social interaction between individuals remains “largely unchanged” in the next 6 weeks, the wave can be reduced and managed. They claimed that there is still a “high level” of infection in the community.
According to Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Ronan Glynn, the number of people fully vaccinated in the Republic of Ireland remains low, which, according to him, increases the risk of a summer wave.
“There remains a considerable risk that Ireland will experience a further wave of infection if public health restrictions are eased too quickly,” he told the Oireachtas Health Committee.
“A further wave of infection can be substantially mitigated if levels of social contact across the population remain largely unchanged over the next six weeks.”
However, while the UK government’s Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (or SPI-M) last week warned of a similar surge, they have now accepted that their modelling carries “some big caveats”, including the seasonality of the virus.
Though initial projections warned of a large rise in cases in June – possibly as big as the January peak in cases and deaths – these models failed to take into account that respiratory viruses are generally not as virulent in the summer.
“A lot depends on seasonality as well so it may well be that it’s more like autumn than summer,” one senior UK government scientist told The Telegraph.
“Is that going to be affected by what’s happening in Europe? Well, possibly in the sense that if you get lots of travel coming back and forth that might increase it.
“I think that the expectation is that there will be further waves, but they won’t be as big as the ones that we’ve had, unless things go badly wrong.”
The source added that if there was another wave, it would more likely come in the autumn than in the summer months.