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The Brendan O'Connor Show on Auti, Radio one with oil care pharmacy discover a team that's always here to support you at all care, taking care of communities across Ireland, going back to the Irish Times, Kingston Mills, who, as you know, is a professor of experimental immunology in the School of Biochemistry and Immunology at Trinity College.


Dublin, has kind of a big idea in the Irish Times today and like like a lot of big ideas, a kind of if if it's correct, it seems quite simple and quite obvious.


And Kingston Mills joins me now. Good morning, Kingston. Good morning.


Before we come to your big idea, can I ask you, Kingston, how worried should we be about this South African variant?


Yeah, I mean, the both of the variants are Duke and South Africa worrying and a the more transmissible. And it may end up that they may cause an issue with children because now children have been a great source of transmission. But what happens with these viruses are that the virus Tisia, the level of the virus in individuals is higher. So it may be that the children will then be a source of transmission because the level of virus is higher than it normally would be in children.


But that's the biggest issue with this. And the fact is more transmissible. It means that somebody who gets infected with this will more readily pass it on. And it looks at this stage like the vaccines would work against it all. Their data suggests that that's a very good use. But if there were further mutations, the might be issues. But it is possible to change this vaccine anyway because the flexibility that's being used.


OK, listen, here's an email here to Brendan RTG from Katherine saying, Reading the latest covid, it appears we now have three cases of the more dangerous South African strain here. I'm at a loss as to why people entering Ireland from South Africa are only advised to self isolate for 14 days. Why is this not mandatory? And sure enough, it says here in the new independent, they have to quote from Tony Hoola. Anyone who's travelled from South Africa recently is advised to self isolate for 14 days.


We're particularly advising health care workers travelling from South Africa that it is essential that they self isolate.


So clearly, we have a situation where health care workers were coming in from South Africa and possibly need to be advised to stay home for 14 days. Are we are we still being a bit lackadaisical about all this kind of stuff?


I completely agree with you and with your listener. I mean, we've been seeing this enormous in the media for some time that the measures for restricting importation, the virus needs to be far more stringent. I mean, I think it's absolute time to make it completely mandatory. And I understand that the regulations have changed anyway, that we have to people have to have a negative test taken three days before departure and then another negative test, five days after what should have been happening months ago and should have been implemented and made mandatory months ago.


And it's more essential now with the with the to do various for every working system. Yes.


For everywhere. And I mean, that would keep the virus out. You know, if we if we I mean it's too late and the UK very may maybe, according to Philip Knowland, 20 to 30 percent of all the cases here. But South Africa was a little bit more worrying is that the mutations in nature are more into the critical region of the virus that binds to a receptor. So it's worrying that, you know, there's a mutation and it might make the vaccine less effective.


So so we really want to keep that South African variant under control.


OK, now the big idea you have today, and maybe this is something on a on a more positive note as a texada five 155000 and saying here, do the math, Brendan. It's going to be two years before we all get the vaccine. When I did the math, it was more like five years. So I'd prefer your math sense and texta know you're looking at this maths today, your big idea today.


Should you explain it to me?


OK, so we know right now that around 135 test cases that have been confirmed by PCR as being a case scenario, but in fact, the numbers are probably at least double that because there's around four percent genetic. And right now, we're not testing asymptomatic people. So context of those cases are not be testing and they're escaping the testing system now. They're not causing any problems for the hospitalisations, but they are a source of virus. So they could spread it to others.


So there are probably right now in Ireland at least a quarter of a million people that have been infected in a month's time. That figure could be a half million. So if we use two doses of vaccine per person, that's a million doses of vaccine that could be saved by not vaccinating those who have recovered from infection. And why do I think those people do not need to be vaccinated? It was a paper published last week in the Journal of Medicine.


Top journals at. Officials from a group in Oxford who looked at health care workers who were either previously infected or hadn't previously expected. And then they followed them for a period of six months and they found that only two people that had previously been infected got reinfection and those two only had asymptomatic infections, stores that had previously been infected. There were several thousand of them. A significant number of those got reinfected, got infected for the first time. And the bottom line that this is associated with antibodies against the spike protein in the virus and the sort of Take-Home message from this was that if you get infected, you have very little chance of getting infected, at least for seven months.


So why vaccinate someone that's already protected? Now, some will argue, and I know that I would get opposition for this from the medical people saying that, oh, we don't know that everybody that gets that recovers would not get infected. There might be a tiny number that get infected, but that number is going to be smaller on a percentage basis than the vaccine would protect against.


So this is not letting the perfect be the enemy of practicality and all that. Exactly.


Kingston, you say there are a million vulnerable people in Ireland needing vaccination, which at our current rate, that's a year. If we're getting 40000 a week now, presumably we get more as time goes on. But that's a year, you reckon a million vulnerable people?


Yeah, yeah. I mean, if you add them all up, it's the people in the nursing homes are relatively small. The health care workers, you've got 250000 people over 65 accounts for another significant number. And then the number of people with diabetes and cardiovascular disease, you're talking about around a billion people. So that's two million doses of vaccine. And, you know, we don't have 200 doses. We're getting at the ratio of, you said, 40000 doses a week.


And we're going to be a long way before we get to vaccinating that whole population. So I think that the suggestion of not vaccinating those that have been previously infected and we should know who these are, they have been PCR test tested. Now, we don't know who the people are who are asymptomatic infection, that they're more tricky and you can do mass antibody screening to find those people. Well, I don't think there's a will there to do this.


It's not impossible to do it. It just has to be logistically put in place.


But we certainly know one eighth of a million people at this stage. We know their names. So we could scratch that exact list anyway.


Kingston, are you optimistic? Obviously, the 40000 a week we're getting at the moment are Fraser Brown take? We're going to be getting a small amount of marijuana. They are you optimistic about are there vaccines coming on stream soon?


Yes, I am. I know that there's three companies that I think would be reporting the next couple of months. Johnson and Johnson are pretty close to the race to have a vaccine that's similar to the vaccine, the AstraZeneca vaccine licence in the UK. And it would be really good in that it doesn't have to be stored at this ultra low temperature. We kept the fridge so GP's and pharmacists could easily administer it as effective.


No, it's not.


And that's that's the big issue. And the European medicines agencies have pushed back slightly and asked for additional data on this vaccine. And quite frankly, the company in Oxford and messed up a little bit in the trial that they got the dose of the vaccine. They had a lower dose in one arm of the vaccine and that looked like it was more effective. But in fact, put the medical control agency, the UK have VISUS. It's the full dose of the vaccine, which was 60 percent to 60 percent versus 95 for the device or vaccine.


Now, it had a huge benefit. Still a, you know, 60 percent efficacy. The FDA, the US had said before all this started, before we knew any vaccine was effective, that they would like to. But it's 50 percent effective. AstraZeneca vaccine is sixty, but it still hasn't been licensed. That still has to be licensed by the IT it may very well be licensed, but there are some question marks about it still.


OK, can I ask you one quick question before you go and look, I could be putting you on the spot with this. No, but just in case you have any thoughts on it, because we did we've been training the Department of Health on morning and they've nobody to help us with this.


There's there's a Twitter account called covid-19 Data Ireland. And it seems to automatically generate tweets from raw data from the covid data hub. Right. And there seems to be different figures for actual positive swabs on the day. And there was notified to the Department of Health.


And what they're suggesting is that for the last three days, the figures on this, that the positivity is gone down from twenty four to eighteen point eight, that the number of positive swabs for Wednesday was six eight six two. And that number of positive swabs on Friday was five one five two. Would you put any. Or in that or do you have any thoughts on that? Well, I don't know about the details. I can verify them, but I do know is that the official positivity rate that was last announced was twenty two point four percent extremely high.


You know, so we're doing 25000 tests today. And those are all on people that have symptoms. And twenty two point four percent of those are positive. That's very, very high. We have over 1000 people in hospital. We have over 100 in ICU. This is very worrying. And the fact of the matter is that the hospitalizations, the ICU come 10 to 14 days after the peak in cases. So we can expect the numbers of hospitalizations that people nicely used to increase over the next two to two weeks.


Yeah, OK, David Kingston, thanks very much for that. We'll take a break.