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26th May 2021

Horizon Scan

COVID-19 Indian Variant

Can we rely on mass vaccination to negate the harm this new variant might inflict?

The answer to this question is unknown. Data from Britain suggests that this variant is more transmissible than others, including the UK variant that spread across Ireland so fast at Christmas time, 2020.

Currently, there is no evidence that it can inflict any greater harm, or evade vaccines, and there is some data to suggest it may be burning itself out.

COVID-19 Vaccination Rollout

This week, the HSE invites everyone aged 45-49 to register for a COVID-19 vaccine via the HSE’s online registration system or by phone. The number to call is 1850 24 1850.

In the light of the recent cyberattack on the HSE computer systems, the HSE would like to reassure people that viewing the HSE website is perfectly safe.

Department of Social Protection: Scam calls

Via its online news service, the government has highlighted the issue of scam phone calls and text messages that members of the public may receive from individuals claiming to be an official of the Department of Social Protection.  These calls and texts display a range of numbers, including some which look like genuine Department phone numbers.

The public are advised that the Department of Social Protection will never seek personal information from customers via text message and will never ask for bank details over the phone.

Any person who receives such a call or text is advised not to disclose any information, and to report the incident to the Gardaí immediately.

Cancer patients affected by cyberattack

The cyberattack on the HSE is continuing to have a particularly serious impact on radiotherapy for cancer patients with medical staff unable to access detailed individual treatment plans.

In an update on the impact on services it said it is working to find options to continue to treat these affected patients.

Many emergency departments are very busy and patients requiring non-urgent care should expect significant delays. The HSE has appealed to the public to consider all care options before attending Accident & Emergency Departments. These include: seeking advice from GP and GP out-of-hours services, minor injury units and local pharmacies.

No safe amount: new study shows alcohol is harmful to the brain

In the UK, a study of more than 25,000 people has found there is no safe amount of alcohol consumption. Even “moderate” drinking adversely affects nearly every part of the brain.

In 2019, per capita alcohol consumption in Ireland was 10.78 litres of pure alcohol per person aged 15+. At least one in five adults in Ireland don’t drink alcohol, so those who do are consuming significantly more than the per capita consumption figure shows (Alcohol Action Ireland).

In Ireland, a unit contains about 10g of pure alcohol – the equivalent of a pub measure of spirits, a small glass of wine, half a pint of beer, or an alcopop. The current HSE weekly alcohol guidelines are: less than 11 standard drinks for women and 17 standard drinks for men. No more than 6 standard drinks on any one occasion is advised.

In the UK, a standard unit is smaller, containing about 8g of pure alcohol.  The guidelines there recommend that both men and women drink no more than 14 units each week. However, the new study evidences harm below this threshold and with it, brings clear health implications for Irish drinkers too.

*All information is correct at the time of publishing. Use of this material is subject to your acceptance of our terms and conditions.

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