Vaccines the only effective intervention against Covid – Hiqa

Not smoking, exercising often among may help against viruses watchdog tells Nphet

There is high-quality data to show that vaccines are effective in preventing serious disease, Hiqa said

There is high-quality data to show that vaccines are effective in preventing serious disease, Hiqa said


The administration of an approved vaccine is the only medical intervention effective at reducing the risk of Covid-19, the State’s health watchdog has told the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet).

The Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) on Wednesday published its advice to Nphet on interventions and modifiable health-related risk factors to prevent Covid-19 or to reduce the risk of serious Covid-19 disease.

The watchdog examined 51 cohort studies which focused on modifiable health-related risk factors.

While there were mixed results, Hiqa said there were a number of lifestyle choices that could be adopted which would have beneficial effects on general health and may reduce the risk of poor outcomes from the virus.

These included maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, exercising often, being Vitamin D sufficient, and moderating alcohol consumption.

Hiqa examined the use of a number of drug (excluding vaccines) and non-drug interventions and found there was “a lack of high-quality evidence” to suggest any were effective at reducing the risk of Covid-19.

Dr Máirín Ryan, Hiqa’s deputy chief executive and director of health technology assessment, said there were “potential risks associated with all interventions”.

“Anything recommended to the Irish public will require robust assessment to ensure that it is safe, as well as being effective,” she said. “This is important, given the serious risk of harm associated with unproven interventions.

“While we examined 51 studies, we identified a further 60 trials which are planned or ongoing.

“This review did not specifically look at Covid-19 vaccines. However, there are large high-quality controlled trials as well as population-level data to show that they are effective in preventing serious disease.

“We would encourage anyone who has the opportunity to avail of the Covid-19 vaccine to do so, as it continues to be the most effective safeguard against serious illness due to Covid-19.”

Dr Ryan added: “As restrictions begin to ease and individuals are vaccinated, it is important to empower individuals to take ownership of their health, and to highlight that small steps can lead to benefits in health status. These include working towards a healthy weight and exercising often.”