Australia 'Less restrictive future lockdowns' rely on more people getting vaccinated for COVID-19, experts say
Individualism Is Still Sabotaging the Pandemic Response
Vaccinated America is reveling in its freedom—and leaving the most vulnerable people behind.Across 15 agonizing months, the COVID-19 pandemic repeatedly confirmed these central concepts. Many essential workers, who held hourly-wage jobs with no paid sick leave, were unable to isolate themselves for fear of losing their livelihood. Prisons and nursing homes, whose residents have little autonomy, became hot spots for the worst outbreaks. Black and Latino communities that were underserved by the existing health system were disproportionately infected and killed by the new coronavirus, and now have among the lowest vaccination rates in the country.
Australia is unlikely to achieve herd immunity because of the current level of vaccine hesitancy and the highly infectious nature of new COVID variants, new modelling shows.
, developed by the Burnet Institute and published today, shows people will still need to follow public health directions (such as lockdowns, social distancing and mask wearing), even if they're fully vaccinated.
Burnet deputy director Margaret Hellard toldeven if vaccine coverage was as high as 80 per cent (a target she described as "challenging") life wouldn't go back to normal — yet.
"You can't just say, 'we're vaccinated, let it rip, guys'," she said.
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"There will be occasions where will need to be aware that we need to be tested and we'd still need restrictions."
So, as, we asked the experts: what will prevent Australian cities from shutting down every time there is a new case?
And how long will we have to wait before we can feel confident booking interstate travel?
Will we see another Australian lockdown?
Burnet Institute epidemiologist Mike Toole said lockdowns would keep happening until the vaccination rate improved and quarantine leaks were plugged.
"Since November, we've had on average of one quarantine leak every 11 days, and that's continuing," he said.
"They'll keep happening."
California mandated masks. Florida opened its restaurants. Did any of it matter?
Which Covid-19 restrictions really worked — and which ones really didn’t?California and New York, on the other hand, have been more cautious. They didn’t let some businesses, like movie theaters and gyms, reopen until months after their more conservative counterparts had already done so. Their state mask mandates are still at least partially in effect.
According to the Department of Health,across Australia to date.
Australia has ordered extra doses of Pfizer and Moderna (which is yet to be approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration),.
With this time frame in mind, plus the 12-week wait between dose one and dose two of AstraZeneca, Professor Toole said it was inevitable there would be more lockdowns before the bulk of Australians were fully vaccinated.
"In that time [of four or five months], we'll have at least 10 more quarantine leaks and lockdowns and border closures," he said.
Murdoch University professor of immunology Cassandra Berry said the higher Australia's vaccination rate was, the less restrictive future lockdowns were likely to be.
"As the vaccine rollout continues and more of us are fully vaccinated, we will still see cases, but I don't think we'll have to go into those strict lockdown procedures anymore," she said.
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What do we need to do to avoid restrictions?
Epidemiologist Emma Miller of Flinders University said preventing future lockdowns would take high vaccination coverage, high compliance with the rules, and good contact tracing.
And, she said, Australia needed to do more to help other countries tackle viral spread, which was the only way to prevent importing the virus and stop quarantine leaks altogether.
"We're only going to be able to open up and behave normally if everybody is doing all the same thing around the world," she said.
have recently been updated to say fully vaccinated people no longer need to quarantine if they have been exposed to the virus, but have no symptoms.
Fully vaccinated people in America also don't have to self-isolate after travelling internationally or interstate.
It's a different situation in Australia, with no exceptions for those who have had both doses of the vaccine.
Professor Berry theorised these rules may be updated as time went on, as long as contact tracing remained strong and people practiced social distancing.
Hundreds of COVID Deaths Still Occurring Each Week in U.S. Nursing Homes
Data shows that the number of nursing home deaths related to COVID-19 is down from 10,675 in the first two weeks of January to 472 in the first two weeks of May. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned that low rates of vaccination among health care workers in nursing homes raises the risk of outbreaks. While the outbreaks are less common than earlier in the pandemic, they have disrupted plans for in-person meetings for the first time since the pandemic began over a year ago, leading to frustration from vaccinated family members and patients.
"I'm not convinced everybody can see the benefit of being vaccinated [in Australia]," she said.
"Fully vaccinated people don't need to quarantine [in the US].
"So, if people [in Australia] got that message, if they were fully vaccinated, they may still have their freedom and not need to go into isolation."
But Professor Hellard said public health measures, including lockdowns, would remain a key line of defence, even with high vaccination rates.
What can we do now?
All four experts agreed the most important thing for Australians to do was roll up their sleeves and get vaccinated as soon as they're eligible.
Dr Miller was optimistic that as more and more people were vaccinated, the chance of lockdowns would decrease as long as people listened to the health advice.
But for now, Australians will have to take it one day at a time.
"There is no magic silver bullet that's going to take care of this; everything is going to depend on vaccination, on getting as high levels as we can achieve," Dr Miller said.
Professor Hellard said although vaccines wouldn't stop every outbreak, they would reduce the likelihood of outbreaks, save lives and reduce the need for restrictions.
"Everyone should get vaccinated as soon as possible," she said.
"The more people are vaccinated the better, but it doesn't mean we're footloose and fancy free."
'Time to distinguish' between those who have and have not had a COVID jab, Tony Blair says .
Tony Blair has said it is "time to distinguish" between people who have and haven't had a coronavirus vaccine. Your browser does not support this video