Australia’s vaccine injury compensation scheme was recently extended to children under the age of four as health officials in Australia prepare for mass vaccination of infants against COVID-19. Although 95% of Australia’s population has received at least one dose of the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine, more than 82.5% are fully vaccinated and more than half the population has received a third dose, the cases are in recent months literally skyrocketed. Such an increase shouldn’t happen, especially with a record number of deaths.
Greg Hunt, the country’s health minister, said that while children under the age of five do not yet have access to the COVID-19 vaccines, they certainly will in the future. Therefore, in the upcoming budget, funds are earmarked for “children aged zero to four”.
Fred Chung, writing for News.com, reports that nearly 60 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in this country of nearly 26 million people.
Despite the record-breaking number of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths (see below), Australian federal authorities will invest $690.4 million to continue vaccination programs through the end of 2022 and ensure public health officials are prepared to accommodate children aged zero to four years” if medical advice recommends it.
Increasing number of cases
While the population is among the most vaccinated countries in the world, similar to New Zealand, South Korea and many other countries, this does not seem to matter given the rising number of SARS-CoV-2 infections. With nearly 83% of the entire population vaccinated and over 50% boosted, cases are now skyrocketing.
For much of the pandemic, Australia somewhat followed the Chinese authoritarian model, adopting a zero-tolerance policy towards COVID from the start of the pandemic. Few cases were reported as the country, already an isolated continent, was hermetically sealed off from the rest of the world.
The country’s health authorities, along with other government agencies, cracked down on the population and even set up quarantine camps.
However, cases began to rise with the delta wave in the summer of 2021, which accelerated in late 2021 with the emergence of the worrying omicron variant, bringing the number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths to one in December 2021, just three months ago set a new record. And this despite the fact that the population is heavily vaccinated.
Below are the latest statistics. As seen below, despite the heavily vaccinated population, new cases are skyrocketing and breaking all records. TrialSite observed the same trends in many heavily vaccinated areas.
The heavily vaccinated population was supposed to be protected from deaths, but similar to South Korea and New Zealand, there has been a record-breaking wave of deaths from the omicron pathogen because this pathogen can more easily evade the antibodies raised by the vaccine. Possibly the booster dose will slow the increase in deaths, but these deaths occurred in a fully vaccinated population.
The same trend can be observed for hospital stays. As of 1 December 2021, 73.4% of the population was vaccinated and by 1 February almost 80% of the population was fully vaccinated and almost a third of the Australian population had received a booster (3rd dose). The number of hospitalizations has reached a record high and is now rising again, even though more than half the population is vaccinated.
Does the vaccination work?
While the state-level data published in previous TrialSite articles shows that the death rate is significantly higher among the unvaccinated, one might question why these large outbreaks of COVID-19 cases coincide with an increase in hospitalizations despite such a heavily vaccinated population and deaths.
Health Secretary Hunt, along with Minister for Aged Care Richard Colbeck, Regional Health Minister David Gillespie and Minister for Mental Health David Coleman, said vaccination against COVID-19 remains the most effective way to prevent severe illness prevent illness, hospitalization and death.”
Hunt recently announced that over 95% of the population aged 16 and over has received at least one dose of the vaccine. Since children have not yet been vaccinated and Hunt stated that “vaccination against COVID-19 remains the most effective way to prevent serious illness, hospitalization and death”, one could target children, because one still thinks that they serve as carriers? TrialSite reminds us that these pathogens with omicron and now subvariant BA.2 appear to be more resistant to vaccines.
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