THE DELTA variant is the "last big hurdle" Ireland will have to overcome in the fight against Covid-19, HSE boss Paul Reid insists.
Speaking at this week's Covid-19 health briefing, Mr Reid said that while the variant will have "potential impacts" between now and September, once the strain has been suppressed it's unlikely the nation will face another single issue of this magnitude.
"We should go into it with a level of confidence due to the vaccine programme giving even more protection every day," he said.
Over 90% of Ireland's current Covid-19 cases are believed to be the Delta variant, with the country now in the midst of a fourth wave of infection.
Earlier this week, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar warned that over the next three weeks, Ireland could see 4,000 new Covid-19 cases per day if the situation deteriorates.
Mr Reid said that while he expects hospitalisations to increase over the next few weeks, the surge in cases should eventually flatten out.
"We would expect to see in the coming weeks increased hospitalisations, so it's not just for three weeks, but I think the next three weeks will give us a much better understanding of what's going to happen over the next three to six weeks.," he said.
"So I don't see the threat stopping after three weeks but I think we'll get a better understanding of the patterns and trends."