Search icon


05th Jul 2021

Public health expert says “fourth wave” has already begun as Covid-19 cases hit highest since 1 May

Clara Kelly

“There will be more variants after this Delta variant, there’s no reason to think the Greek alphabet will end at Delta.”

A public health expert has said that he believes that a fourth wave of the Covid-19 virus has already begun in Ireland as case numbers climbed to their highest in over two months on Sunday.

Speaking to Newstalk after 562 new cases of the virus were reported across Ireland on Sunday, Professor Sam McConkey said that it was already “the beginning of the fourth wave”.

The Infectious Disease Specialist and head of the Department of International Health and Tropical Medicine at the RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences said that he is hopeful the wave will be “much less traumatic” than the first three.

“My views for the last 15 or 16 days cases have gradually started to rise, we have an R [number] currently of about 1.2 – and this is the beginning of a fourth wave,” he said.

“I’m hoping, having said that, that it will be much much less traumatic to us as a country and as individuals here than the previous first, second and third wave.

“I’m hoping that, following the UK, there’ll be much less hospitalisation, much less ICU admission and hopefully much less rate of death”.

He added that Covid-19 is a “long-term virus”, saying he believes “there will be more variants” even after the Delta variant, which has been causing concerns recently, is tackled.

“There will be more variants after this Delta variant; there’s no reason to think the Greek alphabet will end at Delta – there will be new ones in the future,” he continued.

“The one I really fear is one that transmits widely in vaccinated people and where the vaccine wouldn’t work.

“It would take three to six months for the vaccine companies to make a ‘version two’ of the vaccine, and for that to get created and billions of doses distributed to boost us against the new variant.”

LISTEN: You Must Be Jokin’ with Aideen McQueen – Faith healers, Coolock craic and Gigging as Gaeilge