The Federal Governments vaccination target to reopen the country could come at the price of tens of thousands of lives according to modelling from the Australian National University.
The current plan, outlined by the Doherty Institute, insists that once more than 70% of adults receive two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, restrictions would ease and by 80% the virus would be managed like other infectious diseases.
But Professor Quentin Grafton from the ANU argues that would come with too many risks.
“Our modelling shows if 70 per cent of Australians over 16 years of age are fully vaccinated, with a 95 per cent vaccination level for those aged 60 years and over, there could eventually be some 6.9 million symptomatic COVID-19 cases, 154,000 hospitalisations, and 29,000 fatalities.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison disagrees with the findings and insists the current modelling is safe, telling Channel 7’s Sunrise it’s the right way to go.
“We’re not just reopening because we want to reopen. We know that at that level, based on the expert scientific work that they have done, that we can reopen safely at that point and we can move forward.”
The ANU research suggests a 90% vaccination target for all Australians is needed to minimise risk, including a 95% target for people aged 60 and over and other vulnerable groups.
Professor Grafton explains that children must be included in the National target.
“If children are also fully vaccinated, national fatalities for all age groups would be reduced to 19,000 with 80 per cent adult vaccination coverage. This would fall to 10,000 at a 90 per cent adult vaccination coverage.”
An mRNA booster shot for all Australians is also recommended before relaxing public health measures and opening international borders.
Professor Tom Kompas from the University of Melbourne who was also a part of the research, urges the Federal Government to reconsider the National target.
“If National Cabinet revises its strategy to include our four vaccination steps, many lives will be saved, and many more, including children, will not suffer from debilitating long COVID.”