Warning of ‘summer wave’ as new Covid variants account for 40% of cases in Ireland

Warning of ‘summer wave’ as new Covid variants account for 40% of cases in Ireland

Two new Covid-19 variants now account for over 40 per cent of cases in Ireland, according to the Health Protection Surveillance Centre.

The two sublineages of Covid-19, known as BA.4 and BA.5, are replacing the previously dominant Omicron variant, BA.2, it says.

With BA.4 and BA.5 accounting for 42 per cent of cases last week, it added, they are likely to be the cause of the increased circulation of the virus seen in recent weeks.

“BA.4 and BA.5 are becoming the dominant variants in circulation across several European countries. This is likely to be due to their ability to evade immune protection caused by prior infection and/or vaccination, particularly if this immunity has waned over time,” the HSE infection surveillance arm said.


“There is currently no indication of any change in infection severity compared to previous Omicron lineages.”

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) says no significant increase in infection severity is expected as BA.4/BA.5 become the dominant variants, though data is limited. But if cases increase substantially, “some level of increased hospital and ICU admissions is likely to follow,” the HPSC said.

It urged people to self-isolate if they get symptoms, “regardless of the result of an antigen test”.


The number of Covid-19 patients in hospital has almost doubled in a fortnight as the latest wave in the pandemic gathers pace.

There were 360 Covid-19 patients in hospital on Saturday morning, up 49 on Thursday, according to the Department of Health. The number of hospitalised patients bottomed out at 167 on May 28th but has been rising since.

The number of Covid-19 patients in intensive care dropped by two on Friday, to 22.

The positivity rate for PCR tests now stands at 22 per cent, compared to 12.1 per cent two weeks ago, in a further indication of rising levels of infection in the community.


According to the HSE, the number of new cases confirmed by PCR tests grew by 12.8 per cent last week, while the number of positive antigen tests increased by 19.9 per cent.

There were 35 virus outbreaks, including 13 in nursing homes – this is an increase of 14 on the previous week.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said the rise in hospital and ICU cases could be a blip or the start of a summer wave. “Immunity is waning though for sure,” he tweeted, while urging people to get a booster dose against the virus.