Vaccine equity priority for Australia

Australia’s responsibility to support and promote vaccine equity internationally was among topics relating to COVID-19 addressed by Burnet Director and CEO Professor Brendan Crabb AC on Channel 7’s Weekend Sunrise on Saturday.

In a broad-ranging interview with host Monique Wright, Professor Crabb also highlighted
the need for wider public discussion around rates of death in Australia from COVID-19 and why it’s erroneous to equate Omicron with the flu.

“That’s the most common analogy here, but a really bad flu year is 1000 deaths in a year,” Professor Crabb said.

“You know, we passed that in just over three weeks this year, so this is not the flu.

“We really need to get through this crisis but have that discussion because the challenge is not going to go away just when the Omicron wave goes away.”

Asked whether Omicron will herald the end of the pandemic and the prospect that COVID-19 will fade away because of widespread herd immunity, Professor Crabb said: “Delta went through a lot of people and Alpha went through a lot of people and things only went on from there.”

“So, I’m not a subscriber to Omicron as the end of the pandemic.

“As long as you long as you have a lot of people in the world who are unvaccinated – and two-point-five billion people in the world have not received a single dose of vaccine at the moment – then you will get new variants emerging.

“There’s things we should do at home, what we call a vaccines plus … and there’s things we should do internationally.

“Australia is very generous internationally, but all the rich countries of the world have to band together and say ‘we’ve got to knock this on its head’ or else more Omicrons and more Deltas are around the corner.

“We’re nowhere near that mindset at the moment, unfortunately, and we really must turn it around or we’re going to face this potentially for years.”

While Professor Crabb said he didn’t believe the emergence of a new variant dubbed ‘Son of Omicron’ was cause for alarm, he noted there was a strong chance it could prolong the Omicron wave.

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