COVID

HSE COVID Expenditure Reaches €500 Million So Far, As Hospitalisations Drop To 106

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Ireland hit a milestone in the vaccine rollout this past week as almost 261,000 doses were administered, according to the latest data. However, the HSE has reported a total of €500 million spent on COVID-19 measures so far this year.

The government previously indicated to having 80% of the eligible population vaccinated with at least a first dose by June 30th. The HSE’s latest reported figures are showing that this is now within reach for the government. If the pace of the rollout continues as expected, the figure will be passed on July 3rd, according to analysis of the figures by The Journal.

At the current pace of vaccination, the 80% figure will still be reached by July 17th, without any further improvement made. However, these figures are subject to change if the vaccination process comes into any further disruptions.

As of 8pm last night, 106 people were in hospital with COVID-19, falling from 117 people the day before. As of 6.30pm today, there are 34 people in ICU, with the highest numbers of COVID-19 patients attending Mater Hospital (14), Tallaght Hospital (11) and Connolly Hospital Blanchardstown (9).

Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn took to social media this morning to say there is “compelling evidence” that vaccines are very effective. Two doses of the Pfizer vaccine are greater than 96% effective in preventing COVID-19, according to real-world data from Qatar and Israel.

Glynn said real-world data suggested the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines are 91% and 88% effective, respectively, four weeks after the first dose. Studies from the UK also suggest vaccines prevent the spread in households by up to 50%. Glynn then concluded by saying, “by getting vaccinated, you help protect those around you”.

The HSE has spent €500 million on the vaccine programme, COVID-19 policies, and equipment, so far. With a budgetary allocation of €2.171 billion, the Government predicts the programme will cost €2.493 billion a year to the Department of Health, leaving a potential shortfall in gross terms of up to €372 million.

As the vaccination programme progresses, expenditure on PPE and other equipment may subside, which could result in savings. The COVID-19 vaccination programme now has a gross cost estimate of up to €473 million for all of 2021, higher than initially predicted when conducting estimates for the year.

The figure covers the cost of buying vaccines, GP payments for administering the vaccine, and all associated costs of the vaccine centres. An initial €200 million has been allocated to the vaccine programme by the Minister for Health, with remaining funding needing to be allocated from savings elsewhere.

A further €3.69 billion in funding has been approved by the Government and will be spread over the next three years. Under the Sláintecare Implementation Strategy & Action Plan 2021-23, the government plans to implement a number of things. Construction will begin on new elective hospitals in Cork, Dublin and Galway. They also plan to hire 7,000 new community-based healthcare staff, set-up 31 new Primary Care Centres, and invest in 32 Community Specialist Hubs for older people, and people living with chronic disease.