Australia's COVID-19 panel backs reopening after 70% vaccine coverage
- Melbourne-based Doherty Institute has stressed focus on ramping up vaccination
- Just as with flu, living with coronavirus will be easy after meeting the 70% target
- Australia has fully vaccinated 30% of its adult population
Australian government's pandemic modelling adviser has approved the country's reopening plans after at least 70% of the country's population above age 16 is fully vaccinated.
Melbourne-based Doherty Institute said such level of vaccination will make "it easier to live with the virus, as we do with other viruses such as the flu," Reuters reported. Once the country reaches the 70% vaccination target, "opening up at tens or hundreds of cases nationally per day is possible," the institute said in a statement on Monday.
Australia has fully vaccinated 30% of its adult population, while 53% have had at least one dose. In July, Australia unveiled a four-stage plan to ease COVID-related restrictions with higher vaccination rates.
Queensland and Western Australia states, however, have expressed reservations about the plan as it was framed before Sydney's Delta varaint outbreak.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Tuesday acknowledged those concerns but argued that "forever lockdowns" will prove more harmful for the country.
"It doesn't matter whether it's 30 cases or 800 cases, the conclusions are the same, and that's what the Doherty Institute said ... we can do this safely and we do need to do it," Morrison told Nine News.
Australia's COVID-19 infection tally (about 44,600) and death toll (984) are comparatively lesser than many other developed countries. However, a third wave attributed to the Delta variant has prompted authorities to impose strict lockdowns for weeks in Sydney, Melbourne, and capital Canberra
Sydney particularly has reported a surge in COVID-19 cases with officials now pushing for a faster vaccine rollout strategy to curb the spread of Delta variant.
New South Wales (NSW) state Premier Gladys Berejiklian has stressed focus on vaccine rates "because that is what will determine how we can live moving forward." NSW reported 753 cases on Monday compared to Tuesday's 818, while its neighbouring state of Victoria reported 50 new locally transmitted cases on Tuesday after 71 cases a day earlier.