As infections surge during winter and with half the country now under restrictions in the ‘Zero Covid’ state, the national Government in Australia has finally accepted that trying to keep Covid out forever is no way to run a country. The cabinet has agreed plans to end restrictions and reopen borders as the country shifts to a vaccine strategy that treats Covid “like the flu”. ABC reports.
National Cabinet has agreed to a four-stage plan that would see Australia transform into a vaccinated nation that manages COVID-19 with few restrictions.
The goal, as Prime Minister Scott Morrison said, is for Australia to begin treating COVID-19 “like the flu”.
It would mean governments shift from focusing on case numbers to focusing on rates of hospitalisation and death as Australians learn to live with low rates of mild illness in the community.
To get to a point beyond lockdowns and border closures, Australians will need to roll up their sleeves and get vaccinated, but leaders are yet to agree how many jabs it will take to open up.
However, as the Swiss Doctor notes, the country’s vaccine programme has not exactly got off to a good start.
Australia still has a very low, single-digit vaccination rate; moreover, the country currently relies on AstraZeneca, which achieves only a 60% protection rate against symptomatic infection with the ‘Indian variant’, and which will be phased out due to several fatal and severe reactions in young adults. Thus, Australia is likely to face a fierce uphill battle against the coronavirus during the ongoing winter season
The media hysteria is in full swing down under, with the Australian Associated Press telling readers that the Delta variant is “twice as contagious as the original virus and can be spread through fleeting contact that lasts just seconds”. Oh dear, where’s a fact checker when you need one? Glad not to be in Australia right now.