Strong grounds for optimism as today's Covid figures announced

Six cases of Covid-19 confirmed in Louth

The Department of Health has been notified of four further deaths associated with Covid-19.

There have also been 425 additional confirmed cases.

There has now been a total of 254,870 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Ireland and 4,941 deaths.

Of the four deaths recorded today, one occurred in January, one occurred in February and two occurred in May.

More than 78% of today's cases are under the age of 45, with 4% in people aged over 65. The median age was 29. As of 11.30am, there were 39 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in ICU.

Speaking at this afternoon's Department of Heath briefing, the Chair of NPHET's Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group Professor Philip Nolan said the epidemiological situation of the virus in Ireland is "stable", adding that there are "strong grounds for optimism".

He said data on vaccination shows "not only a reduction in incidence in older age groups" but also "very strong effects" in terms of the extent to which vaccination is reducing the severity of disease, hospitalisations and fatalities.

Prof Nolan said while progress is slow, the number of people in intensive care and the number of people ventilated is declining.

He said on a typical day there are between zero and one or two admissions to ICU, compared with three to five admissions to ICU per day five weeks ago.

Prof Nolan also said the test positivity rate currently stands at 2.4%.

"The data also reveals the positive effects of vaccination, not only incidence in the over 65 age groups below the national average and rapidly declining, but we are seeing a very large discrepancy in the probability of being hospitalised or dying," he said.

"It is clear that vaccination not only decreases infection but also decreases the severity of any disease that breaks through," he added.

Prof Nolan said those in the 75 to 80 year old age group now have a 20% risk of being admitted to hospital from Covid-19.

"We're seeing a really significant reduction in the risk of being admitted to hospital in those older people who are now effectively vaccinated."

He also described the reduction in mortality as "even more significant".

"Up until April, sadly, the risk of dying, if you're aged over 85 and contracted Covid-19 was close to 20%. The risk of dying with infection has fallen off very sharply. So now the risk of dying with Covid-19 in that age group is very low."

Meanwhile, Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan said NPHET "strongly recommend against" members of the public applying the use of antigen testing, adding however that antigen testing used in "controlled appropriate circumstances" can have "an important role to play".

He said the result gained by the test in general circumstances "cannot be relied upon".

Dr Holohan said he has received a recommendation from NIAC, but he has not written to the Minister for Health, giving advice on the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

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