The case numbers in Victoria do not augur well for the lifting of lockdown. However, the advent of an untracked variant has authorities worried.
While case numbers are still very low, there is no sign of them coming down. It is worth remembering that every exponential explosion starts at one.
And so they should be. The new Delta variant is more infectious and may possibly be carried by children. This must pose a question mark over reopening schools.
The dilemma is that the economic impacts of lockdowns are becoming increasingly painful for sections of the community. The health implications are equally dire. The question now being asked is whether a lockdown is the best way to deal with an outbreak.
A more worrying picture flying beneath the media radar is the rate at which Australia moves towards full vaccination. Without a second vaccination, the efficacy of both Pfizer and AstraZeneca is around 50%. This lifts to about 90% with the second jab.
Public policy has shifted from inoculating targeted groups to broad coverage of a wider population with a first vaccination.
This policy could be termed the “Better than Nothing” strategy.
In reality, it is a recognition that Australia is in a parlous position in relation to reaching herd immunity.
The WHO regards a 65% fully vaccinated population as the level to assure herd immunity.
The Victorian situation, which mirrors out nationally and interstate, is shown in the following graph.
The vaccination rollout began on February 22nd. It doesn’t show on the graph, and because of the very slow start, there were fewer than 100,000 until April.
The graph shows a rapid increase in first vaccinations from April In response to the recent upgrade. Two months in, just under 20% have now received the first jab. However, because of the 12-week delay for the second AstraZeneca jab, full vaccination still languishes at 1%.
The following graph is a projection of progress until the end of the year. There will be around 3.6 million first vaccinations if the current rate is maintained and everyone gets a second jab.
There will be 2.7 million fully vaccinated. Victoria’s total population is 6.8 million. Of these, 82% are adults over 15.
That’s 5.6 million people, of whom 2.7 million will be fully vaccinated.
That’s 48%, well short of the WHO target of 65%.
On current progress could be another six months before Victoria is fully vaccinated by the middle of 2023.
This assumes that the current rate of vaccination, which fears of another outbreak have accelerated, will continue.
The slow initial uptake suggests that complacency might set in as the immediate threat subsides.