/ 04 August 2021

Modelling for Australia’s way out


No, this isn’t about fashion taking a leading role in our economy’s post-pandemic revival… Yesterday, PM Scott Morrison released the data that will guide Australia’s way out of lockdowns, border restrictions and the general crappiness of COVID. The Federal Government commissioned the Doherty Institute to put together the model that underpins National Cabinet’s new vaccination targets that were revealed on Friday. The fine print: the world is still learning about the Delta strain and “when the circumstances change, you must change with them.” And immunologist/Nobel laureate Professor Peter Doherty says the plan is “not the 10 commandments handed down to Moses,” but it’s a useful guide.

• Oz will have the capacity to vaccinate 70% of the eligible population by 1 November and 80% by 22 November. When Australia reaches those milestones, there will be no need for “stringent” lockdowns, Professor Jodie McVernon from the Doherty Institute said.

• We need to get it up to that level of vaccination because at 50-60%, an outbreak would be “very difficult” to control, she said.

• And 70% won’t mean freedom… Social distancing, capacity limits at venues and contact tracing will need to stay in place. “It could help to turn what might otherwise be a bushfire into more of a controlled back burn,” she said. But at 80% we’re looking at borders reopening and other good things.

Vaccinating young people (aka the under 40yos) should be a priority now that an increasing number of older and vulnerable Aussies are covered off, Professor McVernon said, because they are “key transmitting groups”. That means getting the 30-39yo age group through from the beginning of September and the 16-29yos from early October. When all that’s done, we’ll still need to learn how to live with COVID. The model gives a worst-case scenario where 2,000 people a year die from the virus even with 70% vaccination rates – similar to the levels of a bad flu outbreak. ”We do need to accept that there will be cases … and there will be deaths,” Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said yesterday.

Image source: Reuters

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