IRELAND is nearing the end of the pandemic and a return to normal life, according to a number of health experts.
Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan encouraged the public to come forward and get vaccinated so the country can start lifting more restrictions and speed the whole process up.
"We have to continue to drive up vaccination rates as high as possible. The higher we go the better the protection we have and the sooner we’ll be able to ease more of the economic and social restrictions that still remain in place," Dr Holohan said on Thursday.
Professor Paul Moynagh, a Professor of Immunology at Maynooth University, says the situation with Covid-19 will soon enter an "endemic phase".
This means the virus will likely never be completely eliminated, and will remain in circulation for years, but the impact it has on wider society will quickly decrease, particularly once herd immunity is achieved.
"I think we’re getting to the stage where a number of countries - like ourselves, UK and most countries in Europe - are getting very close to the end of the pandemic phase, and will probably move more into an endemic phase," Prof Maynagh said.
"The virus will be circulating in the background, but thankfully most of us will be protected by either vaccination or natural immunity through infection."
It follows the HSE's announcement that Ireland is on track to "return to normality" due to the "remarkably high" uptake of the Covid-19 vaccine.
"Pace of vaccine rollout has given us a glide path to some level of normality where we can rebuild the society and the economy," said HSE boss Paul Reid.
Meanwhile, HSE Chief Clinical Officer, Dr Colm Henry praised the uptake of the vaccine among the population as "remarkable".
"We have reached remarkable levels, ensuring the envy of other countries. We thought at the beginning it was a function of fear largely among older people who have everything to fear from the virus and much less fear from the vaccine."