Coronavirus: Two in five say ‘no end’ to pandemic

Just 10% believe emergency is over, according to pharmaceutical healthcare association survey

Two in five people believe the Covid-19 pandemic will never be fully over, according to a new survey carried out for the Irish Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association (IPHA).

The survey of 1,000 adults carried out in the first half of June by market research company Ipsos found that half of people believed that the pandemic would eventually end, while 39 per cent said they believed the pandemic would never fully be over.

Just 10 per cent believe the pandemic has already ended.

The Republic is in the midst of another wave driven by new subvariants of the Omicron strain, BA4 and BA5, that is disrupting healthcare services and travel.

Four in five people, some 82 per cent, believe that vaccines, in general, are effective while 76 per cent of people trust the medical evidence around vaccines.

How concerned should we be about the summer Covid surge?

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Just under half of people have not received adult vaccinations for diseases other than coronavirus including flu, mumps, rubella, hepatitis B, whooping cough and pneumococcal disease.

“Covid-19 vaccination has substantially altered the course of the pandemic, saving tens of millions of lives globally,” said Bernard Mallee, the IPHA’s director of communications and advocacy.

“But people are far from putting the pandemic behind them. Epidemiologists say the pattern of recurring waves is likely to persist. Ensuring that we have answers for variants of concern is the work of scientists in our industry. That work is enabled by stable intellectual property rights.”

The survey found that 91 per cent of people have been vaccinated against Covid-19; three in four people have received at least one booster vaccine dose.

One in four people said there were more likely to get vaccinated against other diseases as a result of being protected against Covid-19.

What about transmission?

Paul Moynagh, professor of immunology at Maynooth University, said that a “big challenge” in tackling Covid-19 in future would be developing a vaccine that “totally prevents transmission” where the current vaccines are highly effective at preventing people from getting seriously ill.

“We need to begin to look at new vaccines and make new types of vaccines because we are playing catch-up with this all the time with these new variants,” he said.

Prof Moynagh said scientists should look at developing a nasal vaccine that attacks the virus in the respiratory system and designing vaccines that will be more effective for longer.

“The vaccine at the moment is based on the spike protein, which changes quite frequently and the mutation rate is high. We should begin to look at other parts of the virus, possibly shared with other coronaviruses, that does not mutate at the same frequency,” he said.

New research published by the Economic and Social Research Institute last week found that public concern about the impact of the disease on our healthcare system fell significantly last month, despite a rise in the number of people hospitalised with the virus.

The June survey found that social activity reached its highest recorded level of the pandemic with mitigation measures such as mask wearing and social distancing reaching their lowest level.

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell is The Irish Times’s Public Affairs Editor and former Washington correspondent