What Does Australia Want Its End-Game To Be With COVID-19?
By Dr Kathryn Mainstone, NCWQ Medical Adviser
Differences in opinion are arising within the medical fraternity about the sorts of vaccination which the Australian Government is wanting to offer to the general public.
Concerns have been raised over the government buying 53.8 million doses of the Astra-Zeneca vaccination, which is only 70% effective in comparison with the Pfizer and Moderna vaccinations, which are 94% and 95% effective against the routine COVID-19 strain.
Professor Raina MacIntyre, Head of the Biosecurity Program and Professor of Global Biosecurity at the Kirby Institute, University of NSW, is dubious about our current strategy. In her opinion, the government should now be thinking about what their end-game is wanting to be. If they want to eradicate COVID, then they need to be trying to buy the Moderna vaccination, which is 95 % effective and does not require freezing to -70 degrees which the Pfizer vaccine does.
Professor Dale Godfrey, Immunology Theme Leader at the Doherty Institute says that we need to realise that there is still much that we do not know about each of the vaccinations. At this stage we have no idea of how long each vaccination will last in giving protection and this may in fact turn out to be the lynch pin in deciding which vaccination will be ultimately the best. He also says that we need to consider accessibility. It is unclear whether Australia could ultimately get over 50 million doses of the Pfizer vaccination, even if we wanted to. We must not forget that the Astra-Zeneca vaccination was one hundred percent effective against severe COVID-19 symptoms, thereby preventing the extremely expensive ICU admissions. There is no study which has looked into the incidence of long COVID after vaccination. We also do not know the long term side-effects of the mRNA vaccinations as this is the first time that they have ever been used.
However, Professor Raina MacIntyre remains very definite in her stance. Our government either decides that they want to eradicate COVID from Australia forever – or else we have to deal with it.
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