Australia’s COVID-19 vaccine programs are threatened while the virus is allowed to spread rapidly overseas, a view shared by Burnet’s Professor Brendan Crabb AC and America’s top COVID adviser Dr Anthony Fauci.
They both warn that Australia cannot rely on vaccines and border controls to protect its population, warning no country is safe while the virus is allowed to spread beyond its borders.
Professor Crabb told ABC Radio’s PM program that while there were problems with Australia’s COVID-19 vaccination rollout, there is no immediate health threat to the country, and instead Australia’s priorities should be assisting other countries to suppress the virus.
“Despite those problems, we are in a COVID-zero situation. We are going to get vaccinated at some stage this year and early into next year. So it’s not a health threat,” Professor Crabb said.
“The frequency of variants that can escape immunity and escape the current vaccines is very high. At the moment COVID in the world is increasing to nearly record levels. Variants are a major threat to our vaccine program.
“I would like to see Australia focus much more on helping countries in the region and helping countries in the world suppress virus to minimise the chances of variants emerging, apart from anything else, and maximise the chance of our own vaccine program actually working.”
Dr Anthony Fauci’s words of COVID warning for Australia
Dr Anthony Fauci issued the sobering reality check during the University of NSW’s inaugural David Cooper Lecture this week as the US administered a record 4.6 million vaccines in a single day and Australia’s vaccination rollout continues to stumble, writes Kate Aubusson in the Sydney Morning Herald.
Dr Anthony Fauci’s words of COVID warning for Australia. America’s top #COVID-19 advisor praised Australia’s response to the pandemic but warned that no country was safe until the virus was, a view shared by @CrabbBrendan @BurnetInstitute. https://t.co/0GQyMK4FIE
– Burnet Institute (@BurnetInstitute) April 15, 2021
There would be no freedom from the virus for Australia or any country that had successfully suppressed it within its own communities until the overwhelming majority of the world’s population was vaccinated against COVID-19 and its spread was controlled globally, US President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser said via video conference from his home office.
“As long as there’s the dynamic of virus replication somewhere, there will always be the threat of the emergence of variants which could then come back,” said the long-time director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the US National Institute of Health.
“Even though most of the rest of the world is vaccinated, it can threaten the [countries] that [have] felt that they’ve controlled the virus, when they’re still quite vulnerable.
“If you want to maintain control you want to have control throughout the entire world.”
Dr Fauci praised Australia’s response to the pandemic as among the best in the world thanks largely to a national cohesion that was in stark contrast to the splintered and politicised US attempts to control and eliminate the virus’ spread.
“You had the capability and uniformity of your citizens that, when you shut down, you really shut down very effectively,” Dr Fauci said.
Watch the inaugural David Cooper lecture