The Delta variant of Covid-19 will "almost certainly" be dominant here in two weeks' time, according to the director of the National Virus Reference Laboratory.
Up to 55 percent of cases last week involved the strain.
Dr Cillian De Gascun says the Delta variant, first discovered in India, is at least twice as transmissible as the Covid strain we experienced last summer.
An updated thread on the Delta variant and the reasons for our concern. As any new variant emerges, there are three main issues that we consider: transmissibility; infection severity; and impact on pre-existing immunity (reinfection risk) & vaccine effectiveness 1/n
— Cillian De Gascun (@CillianDeGascun) June 29, 2021
He says there has been a 'dramatic increase' in cases of it here over the past two weeks.
It made up less than 9 percent of cases between June 7th and 13th but Dr Gascun says this rose to up to 55 percent last week.
This will be confirmed by further analysis in laboratories, he says.
Dr De Gascun says this will almost certainly lead to 'Delta dominance' by the middle of July, leading to an increase in case numbers, hospitalisations, and deaths in the following weeks.
He says the Delta variant accounts for about 97 percent of cases in the UK, with case numbers, hospitalisations, and deaths rising there in recent weeks.
Main Image: Dr Cillian De Gascun, Chair of the COVID-19 Expert Advisory Group at the Department of Health Covid-19 briefing, 14/04/2020. Photo: Sasko Lazarov/RollingNews.ie