Vaccine doubts mean COVID restrictions could remain until 2022

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Australia is likely to endure COVID-19 restrictions throughout 2021, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison warning that upcoming vaccinations are not a “silver bullet” against the deadly disease.

The government hopes to vaccinate four million Australians by April, and all of us by October.

It is spending $24 million on a vaccination advertising campaign targeting people identified as most unconvinced about vaccinations. Behind that program is a Quantum Market Research survey of 1000 people that revealed the drop in coronavirus cases is linked to a fall in how concerned people were about the pandemic, which “has the potential to erode motivation to take up the vaccine”.

Young women, migrants and Indigenous Australians will be the target of the “very detailed information program”, which will use social and traditional media to make sure Australians have confidence in the vaccine.

The New Daily is reporting that governments “would have to wait to see how vaccines worked, and what happens in the next winter danger period, before lifting rules”.

So, border closures, hotel quarantine and indoor venue capacity limits could remain until March 2022 or later.

“It won’t be before the end of the year, and then it depends on whether you have a view to eliminating the virus, or suppression to low levels,” Professor Peter Collignon, an infectious diseases expert at the Australian National University Medical School, told The New Daily.

“If it’s elimination, it might be two years before you take these down.”

Prof. Collignon said it was too early to predict when major COVID restrictions would ease, or when capacity at events could return to normal.

“People need to be careful. It won’t go back to normal instantly,” he told The New Daily.

“We’ll have to do COVID-safe activities until the end of this year or longer.

“We’ll need to keep rules until at least October this year. Only one-quarter of people will be vaccinated by winter, so three-quarters will be still susceptible, albeit at hopefully a lower death rate,” Prof. Collignon said.

He is concerned about the spread of the disease in winter, saying: “I think it would be very unlikely we’d be able to relax COVID rules for restaurants and bars until October.”

Prof. Collignon said hotel quarantine, the “four-square-metre rule” and restrictions on large gatherings were likely to stay for the foreseeable future.

And Australia’s main risk of virus spread, hotel quarantine, would be required until large nations overseas completed their vaccine programs.

“It won’t be until the end of the next northern winter, March next year, that we’ll have a good idea how it’s going,” Prof. Collignon said.

“The data we need to answer these questions will gradually evolve, but I won’t feel confident until we see what happens in the next northern hemisphere winter.”

Chief medical officer Paul Kelly says health authorities are uncertain about the effectiveness of vaccines and the speed of their roll-out. Australian authorities needed more robust analysis before making decisions on our dosing regime and how effective it would be.

Quarantine, healthcare and aged care workers and residents will receive the vaccines first. Older Australians, Indigenous people aged over 55, people with medical conditions and workers in critical sectors will be next.

Healthy adults aged under 50 who don’t work in high-risk sectors probably won’t be vaccinated until mid-2021, with children the last to be jabbed.

Nine is reporting that businesses and unions are lobbying for frontline workers such as bus drivers and checkout assistants to be included in the first cohort of those vaccinated. They believe workers dealing with the public and in essential services need to be prioritised and education, tourism, and trade “will lose key overseas contacts if they do not get a vaccine to travel”.

The government’s vaccination roll-out has already been pushed forward from March, with concerns about a new, more infectious strain of coronavirus prompting urgency.

From mid to late February, the first of five vaccine phases is expected to begin, looking to inoculate 678,000 people including health and quarantine workers, and those in aged care.

“For decision makers, 2021 will be very tricky because you’ll have partial vaccine rollout, but we’ll still need to maintain COVID-safe,” NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said on Sunday.

“What does the impact of the vaccine rollout mean? What does the impact of restrictions mean? And also, what other states do impacts us as well … we want people to feel more optimistic about 2021,” she said.

“Once the vaccination starts, COVID-safe practices do not end. They continue,” Mr Morrison said.

“It will still be a fight over the course of 2021.”

Are you prepared for another year of COVID-19 restrictions? Are you convinced enough that Australians will get vaccinated?

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Written by Will Brodie

4 Comments

Total Comments: 4
  1. 1
    0

    Given the jury is still out on whether any of the vaccines stop transmission (there is no data to say it does) it is a surety that restrictions will be in place for at least another year maybe two.

    The benefit of any of the three vaccines so far, is that they help prevent serious illness AFTER you have contracted the virus. There have been no deaths in the studies of anyone who was vaccinated and subsequently contracted the virus. That makes the vaccine a success. It did what it was designed to do.

    There is far too much hype surrounding the effect vaccination will have – frequently perpetuated by the likes of Alan Joyce whose eye is on the airline’s bottom line and no concern for the health of customers just as long as they fly. Prematurely selling flights to UK and USA – two of the most seriously affected locations anywhere – shows that he has no idea what the vaccines are designed to do and what it will take to get there.

    I am all for vaccination and will be rolling up my sleeve when I am called. But people need to be far more realistic about what it means, and how long it is all going to take.

  2. 0
    0

    I am worried for the economy in 2021, and hope the Government will support everyone until we can recover.
    I hope that we can all be vaccinated by year end, so that when we do contract COVID19 it will be a bad cold, hopefully not more. Just like the flu.
    I do not understand people who say they won’t get vaccinated: I for one will roll up my sleeve and take my chances with the jab, as it seems like it has better odds than taking on COVID-19.

  3. 1
    0

    Really what a pathetic vaccine our government want to give the majority of us. Only about 65% effective. That is we will have a 35% chance of still catching COVID, even after we are vaccinated. Are they just trying to save money or can they not get the supply of the good one that is about 95% effective. Is the government unable to keep the good vaccine cold enough to deliver it effectively. Are they too incapable or just too lazy. If the reason is they are just trying to save money, I think that will be a false economy in the long term. It is looking more & more like Australia is becoming a third world country.

    • 0
      0

      No usually silent, you still have 100% chance of catching the virus. You have a 65% better chance of not developing serious illness or dying from it

      And the only other Pfizer is likely to be the first approved for use here. BUT it must be kept at -70c. That makes it difficult to distribute away from the major centres. Yes, it costs $200 against the Astrazenica $20 option but the Astrazenica vaccine is being made here not imported, and does not require such specialist transport or storage conditions.

      And the full data of the Astrazenica vaccine is not yet in. E.g. there is more testing going on to verify whether the first injection should be given at half dose followed by a full dose rather than two full doses. In stage three trials, this looked to provide 95% efficacy well above the current 62.5%.

      It is for these reasons that the TGA is not taking shortcuts to approval. Be thank full for that.


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