Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Sydney’s aged care facilities show Australia can live with the Delta variant of COVID-19 when the population has at least 70% vaccination and used Sydney and NSW’s aged care homes residents as proof.
Speaking to Melbourne radio station 3AW on Tuesday, Mr Morrison shut down the suggestion that opening up Australia could cost tens of thousands of lives.
75% of people aged over 16 in the UK have had two doses of either Pfizer-BioNTech, Oxford University-Astra Zeneca or Moderna vaccines and the death rate from COVID-19 has fallen to about 45 people daily. In the US, almost 52% of the adult population had had two shots of either Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna or one shot of Johnson&Johnson’s Janssen and around 400 people die from the virus daily.
Professor Sharon Lewin, Director of the Doherty Institute, whose modelling underlies the national plan to reopen Australia, said that reopening Australia, despite large numbers of daily COVID-19 cases, will still be safe once the country reaches its 70 to 80% vaccination target for the adult population.
“Once you hit 70 and once you hit 80, the first dose rates are even higher, and then also, the vaccination amongst the most vulnerable, particularly your elderly, will be even higher than those marks as well,” Mr Morrison said.
“That has been demonstrated when you compare what has happened in Sydney this year to what happened in Melbourne last year, and even with vaccination rates at 30 per cent double dose, we’ve had over 80 per cent double dose vaccination rates in aged care facilities.
“So, we have not seen the terrible outcomes that we saw in Victoria last year when vaccines weren’t available in Sydney, so that demonstrates that you can live with this virus when you reach those levels of vaccination.”
Over 30 aged care facilities in NSW have been affected by COVID-19 during the current outbreak, with the initial infection brought in by unvaccinated or partly vaccinated staff. Nine aged care residents have died of COVID-19 after acquiring the virus at their facility – four at Hardi’s Wyoming Aged Care in Summer Hill, three at Allity’s Greenwood Aged Care at Normanhurst and two at RFBI’s Hawkins Masonic Village at Edgeworth.