Covid-19 vaccine: ‘I’ll be first in line,’ says Luke O’Neill

Immunologist urges people to get coronavirus vaccine when it is available

People should take the coronavirus vaccine when it becomes available, immunologist Luke O’Neill has said, adding that he would be ‘first in line’ when it comes out.

Prof O’Neill said the development of four vaccines to combat Covid-19 would lead to new approaches for other infectious diseases. “This will galvanise the drug companies.”

When asked if he would get the vaccine himself, he said he would be “the first in line.”

“We should all line up,” he added. Prof O’Neill said he understood that people were anxious or were hesitant but he said vaccine was very low risk. “This is a very dangerous virus, we need to remember that all the time.”

Ministers will on Tuesday push for the “greatest possible” easing of coronavirus restrictions across the Irish economy and society next week as the Government deliberates on how to exit Level 5 restrictions.

Cabinet sources across all three parties say Ministers will push for the reopening of shops, restaurants and churches from next week onwards, alongside an easing of travel restrictions at a later stage in December.

Prof O’Neill advised people to keep family hugs to a minimum this Christmas. “It sounds draconian” he admitted, but if families are to gather he recommended they hug briefly, while wearing a mask and out of doors.

Speaking on RTÉ radio’s Today with Claire Byrne show, he said that distancing, ventilation and hand hygiene would be very important.

“Have a good breeze blowing through the house and put grandpa by the window,” he recommended.

Prof O’Neill said he hoped that restrictions will be lifted to allow three to four households to meet, but he also suggested that people should bring their own dinner ware, only one person should be in the kitchen serving food and seating should be staggered around the table.

“It’s going to be tough,” he acknowledged. “We can’t have people together for 10 hours in a room playing games. This will be a different Christmas.”

Prof O’Neill said that mask wearing remained an important factor in the suppression of the virus. “Mask wearing is key to picking up a low dose which will lead to better outcomes.”