Ireland’s Covid-19 rates have started increasing again despite continued maximum level restrictions, sparking concern that complacency and fatigue were letting the virus regain momentum.
The five-day case count has risen and was now over 400 per day, reversing a downward trend since authorities declared a new lockdown on 19 October, when daily cases were exceeding 1,000.
Ireland has one of the lowest 14-day incidence rates in the European Union but the chief medical officer, Tony Holohan, on Sunday expressed concern at rising numbers despite continued travel limits and closure of non-essential retail.
“There are examples of small numbers of people congregating for social purposes and simply ignoring the important public health messages. They are putting our collective progress at risk,” he told a news conference. “We are also seeing a number of outbreaks across the country. These include outbreaks in association with funerals”
To avoid importing cases the government has urged Irish people abroad to not return over Christmas. However, more than 1,300 seats have been booked on Ryanair and Aer Lingus flights from London in the days before 25 December.
Moderna says its mRNA Covid vaccine is 95% effective
The race for a coronavirus vaccine has received another shot in the arm with the US biotech firm Moderna becoming the latest to reveal impressive results from phase 3 trials of its jab, writes Ian Sample, the Guardian’s science editor.
An interim analysis released on Monday, and based on 95 patients with confirmed Covid infections, found the candidate vaccine has an efficacy of 94.5%. The company said it now plans to apply to the US regulator, the Food and Drug Administration, for emergency-use authorisation in the coming weeks. In the trial, 90 of the patients received the placebo with the remaining five the vaccine.
The results are the latest encouraging news to emerge from the breakneck effort to develop a vaccine against coronavirus and follow a similar interim analysis earlier this month from a collaboration between Pfizer and the German firm BioNTech, which suggest its vaccine is 90% effective at preventing illness.
The Moderna vaccine is not expected to be available outside the US until next year.
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