HSE welcomes the news as a “great sign”.

The number of Covid-19 patients in intensive care has fallen below 100 for the first time since January.

Welcoming the news as a “great sign”, HSE chief executive Paul Reid indicated his intent to ramp up the roll-out of vaccinations among those at risk.

“Further protections will happen throughout this weekend as GPs continue to vaccinate more over 80+ year olds,” Mr Reid tweeted today.

Reid will visit the Helix mass vaccination centre today to “witness the joy again for almost 1,500 patients.”

Reid had earlier acknowledged the toll lockdown restrictions and hospital pressures were taking on front-line workers and the general public.

“I know it’s relentless for everyone but we should all be assured our actions & sacrifices will get us there. Take care the weekend,” he said.

As hospital numbers also fall, the government and HSE have admitted they could fail to meet the 1.25 million vaccine target set for the end of March.

Calling the goal “very challenging”, An Taoiseach Micheál Martin said “all targets are subject to supply.”

“We are administering significant amounts of vaccine, notwithstanding the challenges we have with Astra Zeneca, and that is a challenge. Astra Zeneca are saying they will make up the shortfalls so far and we will see as time moves on,” he told reporters in Ballybrit, Galway.

“In relation to the second quarter we are confident of significant additional supplies.

“So, we are confident we can make those targets but it is subject to the supply. We cannot control the supply but I am conscious Europe is making additional efforts to increase capacity and increase supply.”