Ireland, one of the most vaccinated populations for COVID-19 in Europe, experiences a rapid increase in COVID-19 infections undoubtedly driven by the highly transmissible Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2. While studies now show that the super mutant can evade vaccine-induced antibodies, the incidence of breakthrough infections grows to a concerning level in places like the Emerald Isle.
Despite a near European high of a 77% fully vaccinated population, (over 90% for people over 12) SARS-CoV-2 infections in Ireland have hit a record high of 13,765 new cases in the nation of just over 5 million people. The previous high in the earlier, more deadly month of January 2021 surge was 8,227 in a day. Thus far this surge is associated with a far lower death count like the United Kingdom. This is more than likely due to a combination of factors from extensive vaccination to natural immunity and waning severity of the mutants (even though they are more transmissible).
Yet the incidence of critical care continues to fall, reports Reuters and other media, as thus far Omicron appears milder in impact. The Irish Examiner today, however, reports that cases have fallen after a record high on Christmas Day, totaling 13,765. On the day after Christmas, the total number of cases confirmed by Ireland’s Department of Health totaled 10,404.
However, hospitalizations have inched upward from 378 yesterday to 426 today. A total of 91 patients are in intensive care due to COVID-19. Ireland’s Chief Medical Officer continues to urge social distancing. Moreover, Dr. Tony Holohan warned as to the transmissible nature of the Omicron variant.
Breakthrough Cases on the Rise
Already by last month (November) breakthrough cases represented 40% of all SARS-CoV-2 infections reported by the Irish Times. Of all those vaccinated from October through part of November 40% experienced breakthrough infections. Moreover, this mainstream media shared last month that of 474 deaths from SARS-CoV-2 between April and October, 44% were fully vaccinated. If these numbers continue to rise the advantage of vaccination will dissipate.
This data originates from Ireland’s Health Protection Surveillance Centre, tracking that of 58,361 infections between September 5th and October 16th, 25,433 (43.6%) involved the fully vaccinated.
The vaccines wane in effectiveness and hence, become “leaky,” meaning people will continue to get infected. The benefit has focused increasingly on health protection.
“But these numbers in Ireland are quite disturbing, and given what we are learning about Omicron these breakthrough infections will accelerate,” reports TrialSite’s founder Daniel O’Connor. The mRNA-based vaccines, among other benefits, are supposed to support rapid iterative updates. Vaccine updates are currently in development