People who caught previous Covid-19 variants are getting re-infected with BA.4 and BA.5 amid concern around rising hospitalisation of patients with the virus, chief clinical officer Dr Colm Henry said today.
e was speaking as the number of hospital patients with Covid-19 rose to 453, up 397 on Sunday morning.
However the numbers in intensive care are stable at 22.
The seven day infectivity rate among people getting PCR tests has risen to 24.4pc.
Dr Henry said: “We are concerned about the increased hospitalisations.”
He said the new variants of concern here, BA.4 and BA.5, are more transmissible and more widespread because of their ability to evade immunity.
However, there is no indication they are more virulent in the illness they can cause.
“What we are seeing is people re-infected after getting previous variants.
“It is all the more reason to encourage people over 65 and the immunocompromised to get their second booster.”
The European Centre for Disease Control said today both these variants will become dominant throughout Europe .
The extent of the increase in cases will depend on various factors including immune protection against infection influenced by the timing and coverage of Covid-19 vaccination regimes.
Although there is no evidence that these variants are more severe an increase in Covid cases overall can result in an increase in hospitalisations, intensive care admissions and deaths.
As of May 30 last BA.5 was dominant in Portugal but the rise in infections there appears to have peaked which could mean the current wave could be relatively short-lived.