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I don't think it's all as negative as it might seem. For example, this is the acting CMO, Ronan Glynn, talking at their press conference on Thursday night. And basically there's a strong message coming out now, which is to try and hold the line for just a little longer. Listen to this.
What I would say to people is to look what we've come to was next week or the week after seems like a long time away. On the one hand, what I would say to people is start to look forward to June to July to August to a time when hopefully the vast majority of the population is protector's to a time when we have much lower levels of disease in the community in relative terms to what they're dealing with today. But we're not there yet.
So we've got to get through the next two to three months, brighter days coming, but we're not there yet.
OK, so brighter days are coming. And indeed, on the front of the Irish Daily Star today, Luke is talking about those brighter days. Luke Cornelius, Trinity College immunologist.
Luke, good morning. Good morning. Whether you're talking in the Star today about basically I think the point you're making roughly, is something that maybe we've forgotten a little bit in our clammer and our frenzy around. We want all the vaccines from everybody is that we don't have to vaccinate everybody to get into a much better position. So you're saying like that, may we have a 90 percent decrease in deaths, hospitalisations, etc.?
Yeah, exactly right. And that's based on science. Thankfully, the data from Israel continues to amaze, you know, huge advocacy of that population and the UK as well, by the way. You know, so there's really good evidence these vaccines are working gangbusters. So and again, the two key milestones are protect the vulnerable, protect the elderly. They're in a much better place already. The herd immunity will take months and months and months to achieve, you see.
So let's not worry about that. Let's just get everybody who's vulnerable and older groups protect them as quick as we can. OK, and you think that offers us opportunities then?
And I'm we're in a different situation.
I suppose the concern at the moment, look, is that I'm looking at Italy kicking off very badly, again, even Germany. And what seems to be happening there is that the UK variant is heading there. I saw Ronan Glynn say in his message last night, we're almost dealing with a different virus and looking at those. Are you concerned about those numbers in the last three days? And is it a question that if there's any bit of an easement at all, this thing takes off like a rocket?
Again, there is a concern because we haven't got full vaccination of the things that we want to see in this light trend is obviously being flagged now as something to look at. And you're right, it'll be commonplace in Europe. Are seeing this bumping up a bit, you know, so again, we're still in the thick of it, basically. I mean, so I mean, the bottom line, going to keep observing everything, don't let our guard down is the constant message, isn't it?
But once we get to May, June and the risk of death and hospitalisation is massively lower, then we can begin to think, oh, hang on, what can we loosen up here? You know, and there'll be huge clamour for this. As we always say, never forget the stress. This is causing everybody all kinds of ways. So the governments around the world have to cut their people a bit of slack if the numbers are in the right direction.
Inevitably, it's all about the data, you know, but that data looks great. And I've seen Israel, Scotland, you know, the UK, I mean, the UK, the UK are killing us. They vaccinated thirty six people for one hundred now, which is incredible. You know, where the EU is on. We can hence the pressure, I guess, to get all these vaccines. Sure. Look, it's absolutely sickening.
And looking at the English papers today about how they're getting it, they're getting a bumper delivery next week or something happened over 40. No, don't buy by May I. I think. What did you think of Arlene Foster asking Boris Johnson yesterday for vaccines for for the Republic of Ireland?
Given that like, you know, we've talked a lot about this being one island epidemiologically in a way, will it makes sense for them at a point in May or whatever to say, OK, if we want to protect Northern Ireland, we actually need to help our friends in the republic.
Exactly. Go for this. No pride here, but yeah, take whatever take whatever is going, you know. And if the spare vaccine in the north now. Well, it's ridiculous. That wouldn't be given to the states isn't it. Just it's just stupid, you know. So no, no. I would have no hesitation in saying anybody anybody offers us a vaccine take it is the bottom line, right. Yeah. Yeah.
Listen, is there would you have any worry that the cases are going to last is three three evenings. They've been up now and it probably is just about the right amount of time for the effect of mobility. I'd be killed for saying this, but the mobility around schools would not be having its effect at this stage like nine to ten days later. Is that is that a concern there?
I don't think so. I mean, all the information is the schools are doing very well, you know, like but again, they'll have those numbers. But I have to ask them to say, where are these cases coming from? Precisely because they don't really know, do they? Don't know if at the moment the. They will figure that one out. I hope it's not that I say, you know, but I don't think it's it is just a bit more mingling as it's happening, you know?
And remember, if young people get infected, that's not a huge deal in terms of risk of hospitalisation. The next number to watch for is will those numbers translate into more people in hospitals? See, and we don't know that. Yes. And we got to hope that's not the case. So are you saying so that actually at a certain point, our focus on case numbers kind of becomes less relevant and the focus needs to be more on what is the actual net effect on hospitalisations, severe illness, death, etc.
Yeah, for sure. For sure. I mean, we don't report the number of people dying from flu every December, do we, on the news? You know, so so again, once we get over this, say, case numbers don't need to be reported, they'll still be there, but they won't be a concern because they won't be translating into hospitalisation. You see it severity. That's the key. Change the vaccines. Break that chain by the evidence.
It's OK to get a vaccine or have sniffles. As long as it doesn't turn into severe disease, then that's much better, you know. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
So I suppose your message is similar to Ronan Glenns in a way, and that we do need to hold the line for another little bit, but that I put that in the same medium term. May things are looking better. Is that what you're saying, really? But we still have to kind of you reckon we still have to keep to keep a firm lid on things for now? We do. We do indeed. And he's either one of us and agree with them beyond.
He's trying to get people to help in which we all need. So, you know, I mean, the country is still suffering, in my view, terribly. So that message was really good for him.
And listen, can I ask you before you go, Luke, did you did you read this story about the AstraZeneca factory in the Netherlands, which you might understand it slightly better than I do, but it seems quite strange.
Are you familiar with this? I am, yeah. Can you explain it to me?
I can. It's disappointing. I mean, AstraZeneca are not doing a good job is the bottom line. But then, of course, they've been called out by all the politicians, including our sort of underlain. I mean, there's a plant in Holland which is contracted to make loads of us into a vaccine. They've made buckets of it, but they can't release it because the AstraZeneca have not applied for approval for that factory to be given permission. You know what I mean?
So what happens is the regulator has to go round all the factories and make sure they're all up to scratch. This huge plant in Holland hasn't been given permission to issue its vaccine yet, and that has to be seen as a cock up from us as a good point of view. Okay, this is one of the two European factories included in the contract. And I think therefore the two of them in Europe, one in Belgium.
And they didn't do that either. The Belgian cineastes, they've done their bit less than what they should have. You see that the two main factories, basically identical have in Europe aren't performing. And it's an AstraZeneca problem because they're the company who owned the factory. Okay. But Europe needs to approve that facility. And then and do we suspect there are millions of vaccines? There are out there are the words.
The shelves are groaning with them. And Theary Bressan, he's the man of the EU, the industry commissioner who went to the factory last week and had a look, you see, and he says, look, we can't approve it because you haven't given us the documentation fully. You know, he's putting pressure on AstraZeneca to give them all the information. I reckon it'll will be sort of I mean, that will release the logjam. Now, they're working very hard to prove that factory, OK, because this is a this is all that vaccine sitting there.
So I bet they would approve it in the next maybe even next week. You never know.
You know, OK, look, I know you're the eternal optimist, but I hope you're right about that one. OK, Professor Lucania, always good to talk to you. Thanks very much.