The warning comes as a further six patients who had previously tested positive for Covid-19 in Northern Ireland died yesterday.
Another 1,462 cases of the virus were also notified by the Department of Health.
Yesterday morning, there were 387 Covid-positive patients in hospital, with 37 in intensive care. Some 2,773,870 vaccinations have been administered in the Province.
Tim Spector, professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London, warned that this coming Christmas is not the only one to be worried about, and that Covid could be a concern for the next five years.
Speaking online at the Royal Society of Medicine’s Covid-19 series, the lead scientist on the Zoe Covid Study app said experts now have a better picture than they did last year, when they thought they just had to get through the year.
Prof Spector said: “And that’s clearly turning out not to be the case, as we realise that just vaccines alone, even in countries that have got higher vaccination rates than ours, are not the final solution to this. But we need a combination of measures.
“We need to extend the vaccination programme to include three shots.
“We also need to realise there will be breakthrough infections that are real, we now know that vaccinated people can still transmit the virus, and that is going to be running through our populations to some degree.
“How high we want those rates to be is highly determined by our complacency and our relaxation of some of the rules that we had in place, that last year I thought we’re actually over the top, and now this year, I think insufficient.”
He added that bringing restrictions to an end in July, when the UK was doing well with vaccinating people, gave the impression there was a “black and white” answer to the pandemic.
Prof Spector said: “We have to realise we just have to in some way control (it) into something that doesn’t cause as much loss of life, doesn’t cause morbidities, and reduce that.
“And to do that is a combination of the vaccines, the medicines, etc. But also we have to keep some public health measures in place to keep those numbers down – we’re not doing that.
“And that’s why for the last three months, we’ve had the highest rates not only of cases but also hospitalisations in western Europe.
“So we’re not doing enough, we are too complacent. The government has a sort of a black and white approach and I think the public health messaging from the government has been appalling.”