Face masks are likely to remain an enduring feature of the pandemic, even with high vaccination rates. Chris Hopkins. Published in AFR.
Virus modelling experts suggest interventions such as QR check-ins, social distancing, density controls and masking intervention will be needed through all the reopening stages agreed by the National Cabinet.
Below is an excerpt of an article by Tom Burton in the Financial Review (AFR) featuring Burnet’s Professor Margaret Hellard AM.
Both the Burnet Institute and the University of Melbourne’s population health team have created models for the same road map out for which the Federal Government has asked the Doherty Institute to model.
Both models, [including Burnet’s COVASIM model], use data from the Victorian second wave and both have concluded that public health interventions will remain necessary even with high levels of vaccination.
The modellers say Australia is unlikely to reach the very high levels of vaccination required – including children – to completely suppress increasingly infectious variants, especially while there are high levels of COVID-19 in the region.
“The maths is sobering,” Burnet Institute Deputy Director and leading infectious diseases and public health specialist, Professor Margaret Hellard AM told Tom Burton.
”We were being relatively conservative in our assumptions. What we’re essentially saying is, depending on the variant, until you are vaccinated to a very high level if we allow disease to come into the model at one [infection incursion] a day, then you are going to still run into problems.
“What that means is that you just can’t say we’ve vaccinated a whole lot of people and then just say, and now we will allow the opening [of] a border where you have people coming from countries with high prevalence of disease.
“You will need to be thoughtful about about what public health measures you need to have. It is not just a case of having high levels of vaccination, you will need to have ongoing programs."
“Plus, you will need to consider the number of people that you allow to come into the community with disease, to maintain a level of management,” she said.
But Professor Hellard said early modelling on the impact of interventions was suggesting “the likelihood of needing to go into a lockdown, to maintain a level of control such that disease doesn’t overwhelm is markedly reduced”.
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