Prof Luke O'Neill "can't see" schools reopening if cases continue to rise 1 week ago

Prof Luke O'Neill "can't see" schools reopening if cases continue to rise

"If we get to Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and the numbers are even higher, I can't see the schools opening."

Trinity College Professor Luke O'Neill has said he doesn't see the schools reopening next week if Covid cases keep rising in Ireland.

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The government has said it "fully intends" for schools to reopen on January 11, with the Department of Education stating the delay was to give families extra time to reduce their social contacts before the new term.

However, there remains concerns that following the highest ever recorded cases of the virus in the county yesterday that schools could remain shut for longer.

Immunologist O'Neill told Pat Kenny on Newstalk earlier today: "Closing the schools will have all kinds of knock-on effects, so it’s a very hard one."

"It will depend on the numbers this week. If we get to Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and the numbers are even higher, I can't see the schools opening," he went on.

"It's another risk. I believe yesterday many of the ministers who were asked are assuming the schools won't re-open. So it is heading in that direction it looks like."

Prof O'Neill added that Ireland's and other country's vaccination programmes are not quite cutting it.

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"We've looked at Israel closely and they are top of the league when it comes to vaccination," he said. "They vaccinated twelve precent of their population, that's 1.1 million people They're predicting the whole country will be vaccinated by March."

“Let’s say in Ireland, you could use up the entire first supply in the hope that the second supply would come in and then you revaccinate at the 21 day point."

“The thing is… is that a risk? Maybe the second supply won’t come, and that means it won’t be as efficacious as you’d like - because it's no doubt the second shot boosts everything."