448 new Covid-19 cases as EMA considers whether booster vaccine might be required 

Eight deaths were confirmed this evening - three occurred in March, two in February and three occurred in January or earlier.
448 new Covid-19 cases as EMA considers whether booster vaccine might be required 

European Medicines Agency said 'third dose' could be a booster dose of existing vaccines or one developed for variant Covid strains

There have been eight additional Covid-related deaths confirmed this evening as the European Medicines Agency reviews four new Covid-19 vaccines.

Of the deaths notified by the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) today, three occurred in March, two in February and three occurred in January or earlier.

The youngest person among these eight people was 40 and the oldest was 92 years old.

The HPSC has also been notified of 448 confirmed cases of the coronavirus.

The average age of the Covid cases reported today is 29 years old with almost 80% of cases under the age of 45.

Dublin accounts for the highest portion of cases with 229 located in the capital. There are 38 cases in Meath, 35 in Kildare, 34 in Cork and 16 in Limerick.

The remaining 96 cases are spread across 16 other counties. Five counties reported no new Covid cases in the past 24 hours - Longford, Leitrim, Mayo, Kerry and Sligo.

Kildare has the highest 14-day incidence rate per 100,000 at 251.7 followed by Donegal at 240.6. Both are significantly higher than the national incidence rate which currently stands at 129.7.

The number of Covid patients in hospitals around the country stands at 109 with 34 in ICU. There have been 12 additional hospitalisations in the past 24 hours.

According to the latest vaccine date, 1,882,635 doses of Covid-19 vaccine have been administered in Ireland to Monday, May 10 - 1,376,583 people have received their first dose while 506,052 have received their second.

Meanwhile, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) said it is too early to say when a third vaccine dose or booster dose might be required.

At a press conference, EMA head of Biological Health Threats and Vaccines Strategy Marco Cavaleri said more data and "real-world" evidence was needed.

"Only this type of evidence will give us the data that we need to have a good understanding of when would be the right time to give a third dose," he said, adding it could be a booster dose of existing vaccines or one developed for variant Covid strains.

"It’s very premature to say that and we have to be careful not to jump to conclusions in respect to the timing of when a booster should be given,” he added.

The EMA also confirmed it was reviewing an application to extend the use of the Pfizer vaccine to children aged 12 to 15 and a decision is expected by the end of May.

Four new vaccines

EMA officials said reviews are ongoing into four new Covid-19 vaccines – Curevac, Novavax, Sputnik and Sinovac – and that discussions are also taking place with manufacturers about ramping up production and modifying vaccines to deal with variants.

Asked about a decision by Brazilian authorities to stop using the AstraZeneca vaccine following the death of a pregnant woman, officials said there is “very limited data” available on Covid-19 vaccines in pregnant women but that it is closely monitoring emerging data.

Officials also confirmed that no blood clotting events had been reported in relation to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to date. EU data suggests more than 2.3m doses of the J&J vaccine have been administered since the vaccine was approved.

As of Monday, 1.8m Covid vaccine doses have been administered in Ireland, with more than 35% of the population aged 16 years and older having had at least one dose.

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