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Fourth wave: how can Australia avoid another Covid outbreak as it reopens to the world? | health




Some countries in Europe are under the control of a fourth Covid wave and have had to reintroduce restrictions in an effort to control outbreaks. So far, the number of cases in Australia has remained low, despite Melbourne and Sydney easing most of the restrictions on fully vaccinated people. But as Australia continues to reopen to the world, can the same thing happen here?

How bad are the Covid cases in Europe?

The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned of a growing trend of Covid-19 cases and deaths across Europe, with more than 2.1 million new cases and more than 28,000 new deaths reported in the week to 17 November. This marks an increase of 8% and 5% respectively compared to last week and is the seventh consecutive week of increase.

WHO Regional Director Dr. Hans Kluge told the BBC that another 500,000 deaths could be recorded in Europe by March unless urgent action is taken.

While some of the countries with the most difficulty have lower vaccination rates, such as Germany (68% fully vaccinated) and Russia (42.2% fully vaccinated), increases in cases and deaths are also being seen in Ireland, where more than three-quarters of the general population and almost 90% of those over 12 years of age are fully vaccinated. There, The curfew has been reintroduced in places and work orders from home.

Are our vaccination rates high enough to prevent a fourth wave?

Australia has vaccinated a similar percentage of the total population in Ireland, with Covid-19 restrictions being greatly eased in states like Victoria and New South Wales, despite the virus still circulating. In those states more than 90% of the population over the age of 16 is now fully immunized.

But will that be enough to prevent Australia from following a similar path to Europe, Canada and the United States, with cases and deaths rising again as vaccinations rise?

The director of the School of Population and Global Health at the University of Melbourne, Prof. Nancy Baxter, said it was difficult to draw direct parallels between what is happening in those countries and what could happen in Australia because of differences in vaccination rates. public and population health measures. .

But there are still implications for us about what we need to do to not be in their situation, Baxter said. A key factor is that they are going down in immunity now after being vaccinated earlier compared to us. This makes it clear how important it will be to get booster injections in humans.

Although there are still new cases appearing every day in some Australian jurisdictions, reopening in states such as NSW and Victoria still occurred with higher vaccination rates and lower daily cases than in many other countries, which puts them in a better position.

How important is it to get a booster vaccine and increase overall vaccination?

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt has urged everyone eligible to receive their booster vaccine, but at the same time the third vaccine will not be required to be considered fully vaccinated. Baxter said that advice could change.

I would say the Australian government will go towards the request of an amplifier, Baxter said. They may need some time to get there, but I do not think they will have a big impact if they push this to Australia now, just because so few people have to do it at this point. We all need to be strengthened if we want to control this, but we have little time to get there.

A higher percentage of Australians will also qualify for vaccination if the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunization [Atagi] recommends vaccination for ages 5 to 11 years. Atagi is waiting for more data from the United States regarding the effect of the vaccine on children before making recommendations to the government, with those data to be expected in December.

While a combination of cold weather, lower vaccine coverage in some countries and the dominance of the Delta variant have accelerated spread in some countries, by the time Australia enters winter next year, the hope is that the majority of the population will amplifiers are administered. , and children from five years of age will also be immunized at least in part. Few countries have started vaccinating those under 11 while they are in winter.

Is vaccination enough?

It will take more than high vaccination rates to prevent hospitalizations and deaths in Australia at levels that harm the health system in the future, Baxter said.

People in Australia have really done a fantastic job getting vaccinated and I know everyone likes to think that’s all we have to do, she said. But if cases start to grow and we are asked to wear masks again indoors, if we do it early enough, it can potentially stop things from getting worse.

I know it seems like we would always have 1000 cases a day and they would just live with that, but it’s not how these types of infectious diseases work. They are epidemic diseases. So they fall, then come down, and then fall and come down again. There is always a threat that you will defeat the health care system if the roof goes high enough when you have an explosion. It is better to prevent this as cases initially start to increase by telling people to wear masks or have some distance requirements.

This will prevent us from reaching the closing point of a city or jurisdiction. This is the difficult lesson they are learning in Europe now that we need to notice.




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