ACTING Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn has warned that Ireland will need to prepare a 'Plan B' for dealing with the Covid-19 crisis in the event a vaccine isn't found soon.
He stressed that it would be unwise to pin all hopes of an end to the pandemic on the discovery of a vaccine, particularly when there's no guarantee that one will be found at all.
Speaking with the Special Oireachtas Committee on Covid-19 on Wednesday, Dr Glynn said that while "massive global research" was taking place, we can't be "overly optimistic".
He added that if there's no sign of a coronavirus vaccine in the coming months then Ireland must move to a "chapter three" in how to tackle the crisis.
Despite the caution, Dr Glynn did stress that we as country must be confident that if we can get through the winter period and come out the other side in reasonably good shape, then 2021 will be a far more positive year than 2020.
Researchers around the world are currently racing to develop a vaccine against Covid-19.
More than 170 candidate vaccines are now being tracked by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Vaccines normally require years of testing and additional time to produce en masse, but scientists are hoping to develop a coronavirus vaccine within 12 to 18 months, and the traditional process is being sped up in an effort to find a cure.
Vaccines work by mimicking the virus - or part of the virus - they protect against, stimulating the immune system to develop antibodies.
Of the 170 candidate vaccines being tracked, 11 are currently involved in large-scale efficacy trials. If these trials are successful then they could be approved for mass production and use around the world.