Experts advise to prepare for the long haul as vaccine unlikely to be ready soon
The Government will have greater options concerning coronavirus restrictions by May 5th if people continue to follow current measures closely, the Minister for Health has said.
Simon Harris said the next 12 days matter and that people needed to concentrate on the present.
These next 12 days or thereabouts, between now and May 5th you know theres lots of speculation about what might happen then, including by people like myself, but we actually need to concentrate on the here and now, he told RTÉ.
I need people at home to know that these next 12 days matter, because the more we can suppress the virus, the more headroom, for want of a better phrase, that we actually give ourselves in terms of options.
On Thursday, the deaths were announced of another 28 people who had been diagnosed with Covid-19, alongside a significant spike in diagnosed cases of 936. This brought the laboratory-confirmed death toll to 794 and the number of confirmed cases to 17,607.
Ruairí Brugha, professor of epidemiology and public health medicine at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) warned on Friday morning that were looking at the long haul and that were not going back to normal with regard to hygiene and physical distancing.
Speaking on Morning Ireland he also warned that if restrictions are eased in a phased way it is up to the public to take responsibility for their behaviour.
It is not enough to have four fifths of us taking responsibility. It takes only a small number behaving in a celebratory manner I takes only two to three per cent behaving in an irresponsible way and the virus will jump up again.
Prof Brugha said that Ireland will need to know that we can manage the risks.
If we dont have a proven testing and tracking system, we wont be in a position to risk new cases in the community.
The head of medical affairs with a company that manufactures vaccines also warned that it is difficult to put a time frame on the development of a vaccine for Covid-19.
Jon Barbour, of GSK Ireland said developing a vaccine is a very challenging process and in some cases can take up to 10 years.
The great challenge now is to come up with an effective vaccine in a shorter time. It was unprecedented that researchers, academics and the pharmaceutical industry around the world had come together to find a vaccine, he said.
This level of global cooperation was unprecedented. Its a complex process with many working together, he said.
Experts agreed that a time frame should not be put on such efforts, but typically it could take 12-18 months.
Mr Barbour also warned that as with the flu virus mutations were likely to happen. Because this was a new virus there was no natural immunity in humans.
All this is hypothetical, he added.