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‘Looking good’: Australian health experts say Covid may be gone in six months

Public health experts are increasingly optimistic the end of the COVID-19 pandemic is in sight.

Sep 16, 2022, updated Sep 16, 2022
Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation Chair Jane Halton at the National Press Club in Canberra, Monday, May 18, 2020. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas) NO ARCHIVING

Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation Chair Jane Halton at the National Press Club in Canberra, Monday, May 18, 2020. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas) NO ARCHIVING

The World Health Organisation has advised the pandemic could soon be over, with the weekly number of global deaths continuing to decline.

Epidemiologist Professor Tony Blakely said it felt like the end.

“We are in a much better position now. We have a lot of immunity from vaccines and natural infection,” he told the ABC on Friday.

“If we don’t see anything much different from Omicron come along in the next six months or so, I think we are looking pretty good.”

Jane Halton, who chairs an association called the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, said while COVID-19 deaths were underestimated, the numbers were looking positive.

Professor Halton said while the virus was unpredictable it was “amazing” that almost two-thirds of the global population had been double vaccinated.

“If we don’t see another particularly nasty variant I think people will be feeling quite optimistic,” she said.

The latest national data on COVID-19 cases and deaths will be released on Friday afternoon.

It will be the first time the figures are released on a weekly rather than daily basis.

The new reporting method was announced after national cabinet decided to reduce the isolation period for COVID-19 patients from seven to five days.

However, only those without any symptoms will be allowed to leave isolation after the shorter time frame.

Health experts expect this to keep the number of new infections down.

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“With no symptoms, you are much less likely to still be infectious,” epidemiologist Adrian Esterman told AAP.

“I don’t think the recent changes to isolation rules will have much impact on transmission.”

Independent MP Monique Ryan is concerned the federal government has moved too quickly to change virus rules.

Dr Ryan, who was the neurology director at Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital before entering parliament, wants a national summit on COVID-19 to discuss a plan in the event of increased infections and pressure on hospitals.

She said people working in the aged, disability, child and health care sectors felt left behind to deal with the ongoing impact of the virus while the rest of the nation moved on.

As the northern hemisphere approaches winter, Dr Ryan is concerned reduced health measures will leave Australia vulnerable to new virus strains.

Prof Esterman said a new sub variant of the Omicron virus mutation was spreading in England and he would not be surprised if Australia saw a similar wave forming in November.

 

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