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Covid-19 Ireland: Professor Luke O’Neill outlines five things that can end pandemic

One of Ireland’s leading immunologists has shared the top five things that we can do that he believes can work to bring an end to the Covid pandemic next year.

Luke O’Neill, a professor of immunology at Trinity College Dublin, has cited five things that will be pivotal in the world’s fight against coronavirus heading into the New Year.

Prof O’Neill says it is “definitely in our power” to stop the pandemic in 2022.

He adds that we will know when the virus is under control when the number of people in hospital for Covid has fallen dramatically and when community infections no longer cause substantial illness.

The main tools he cites that will bring the pandemic to a conclusion next year will be booster vaccines, the TRIPS waiver, antiviral drugs, anti-inflammatory medicines and public health measures.

Prof O’Neill says that booster jabs will be imperative in the future, with a fourth shot perhaps needed for older or vulnerable people.

“There’s a chance that over time more serious waning might happen, especially against Omicron, or indeed any new variant that might emerge,” he writes in the Sunday Independent.

“So, it’s sensible to give the third shot now, and maybe even a fourth shot in older and vulnerable people.

“A third or fourth shot is likely also to give a durable response that will last for several months. It is therefore likely that every winter there will be a vaccination campaign against Covid-19 for older and vulnerable people, just like there is against flu.”

Another important part of the fight against Covid is vaccine equity across the globe, with mass vaccination in all countries around the world needed to “really bring the pandemic to an end”.

Prof O’Neill says the TRIPS waiver on intellectual property rights “can therefore be viewed as the second tool in the fight to end the pandemic as it will help with the key issue of vaccine equity” by increasing the supply of jabs to developing countries.

Thirdly, “antiviral drugs that kill the virus directly” will be another tool in 2022 to fight Covid as they are “almost as powerful as the vaccines”.

He cites the success of Paxlovid and Molnupiravir in clinical trials and adds that such anti-virals “are likely to work against any variant”.

The fourth tool that can help bring an end to the pandemic is anti-inflammatory medicines which “stop the virus from harming your lungs should you become infected”.

Like vaccines and anti-virals, “they will help prevent people getting sick and, if given early enough, might keep them out of hospital”, Prof O’Neill adds.

His fifth tool is various public-health measures, including mask-wearing and social distancing, which are “great tools to use against Covid-19”.

He concludes: “We can be optimistic that 2022 will go down in history as the year that the pandemic ended.

“There may be surprises along the way — but together we can depend on our ingenuity to deal with whatever Covid-19 throws at us. We will finally reach the goal of ending the pandemic.”

It comes as 10,404 new cases of Covid-19 were reported earlier today with 426 people in hospital and 91 people in ICU.

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