Five new cases of COVID-19 have been diagnosed in Co Clare while the return to use of the AstraZeneca vaccine in the Republic of Ireland has been confirmed.
Clare’s 14 day incidence rate per 100k of the population has increased to 57.2 up from 54.7 in the space of 24 hours. An extra five cases of the virus are known in the county which has recorded 68 new cases in the past fortnight.
Nationally, 507 additional cases are known with 216 in Dublin, 40 in Kildare, 29 in Galway, 24 in Offaly, 18 in Tipperary, and the remaining 180 cases are spread across 20 other counties.
An additional 10 deaths related to COVID-19 have been notified to the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC). 9 deaths occurred in March and one date of death remains under investigation. The median age of those who died was 75 years and the age range was 45 – 88 years. There has been a total of 4,576 COVID-19 related deaths in Ireland.
There are 336 COVID-19 patients in hospitals across the country, 87 of which are in critical care and 43 of which were admitted in the last 24 hours.
Latest vaccine data has outlined that 632,359 doses have been administered in Ireland, 168,859 people have received both doses.
On Friday evening, it emerged that the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) is recommending AstraZeneca vaccine return to use in Ireland for those aged eighteen and older with recipients to be explicitly advised of the blood clots observed in a very small number of cases worldwide.
No reports of serious clotting events associated with low platelets have been received by the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) in Ireland to date. Over 117,000 doses of COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca have been administered in Ireland. 4. Recipients of the AstraZeneca vaccine should be advised to seek immediate medical attention if they develop symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pain, leg swelling and/or persistent abdominal pain within weeks of vaccination.
Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Dr Ronan Glynn stated that a preliminary report from The European Medicines Agency (EMA) which concluded on March 18th “reported that the benefits of the COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca in combating the threat of COVID-19 continue to outweigh the risk of side effects. The EMA also concluded that the vaccine is not associated with an increase in the overall risk of blood clots in those who receive it.
Dr Glynn confirmed, “Based on the assessments undertaken by the EMA and the NIAC, and the recommendations of the latter, I have recommended the recommencement of the COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca programme. The HSE will now work to recommence the administration of COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca”.
Chair of NIAC, Professor Karina Butler explained, “The safety of vaccines is paramount. The public should be reassured by the swift and thorough investigations into a very small number of serious but very rare adverse events. Because COVID-19 can be so serious and is so widespread, the EMA found that the benefits of this vaccine outweigh the risks of these very rare events.
“Problems with clotting are commonly seen in those with severe COVID-19 disease. They can also occur by chance in the general population. The EMA found no evidence that the vaccine caused these reported events and are continuing investigation into a possible association. These events have predominantly occurred in women under 55 years of age. However, as this may reflect targeted vaccination of healthcare workers to date, NIAC recommends that appropriate guidance be made available to all vaccine recipients and healthcare providers”.
Prof Butler added, “The public should be reassured by the fact that over 20 million doses of this vaccine have been given in the EEA and the UK providing protection to those who have received it. We are seeing that the rate of infections and hospitalisations are beginning to reduce amongst those who are vaccinated. The best vaccine that anyone can received is the one that they can get soonest”.
NIAC includes representatives from Department of Health, HSE, the National Immunisation Office, the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA),the Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP) the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC), the National Virus Reference Laboratory (NVRL UCD), representatives from the Faculties and Institutes of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland, RCSI, the Infectious Diseases Society, the Nursing and Midwifery Board and two representatives of the public.