Dr Kerry Chant urges QR code check-ins with Service NSW app


NSW chief health officer Kerry Chant has stressed the importance of using QR codes to check into businesses as COVID-19 contact tracers scramble to find the source of infection for a man from Sydney’s eastern suburbs.

A man aged in his 50s and his wife became the first locally-acquired cases of the virus in NSW in more than a month when they tested positive last week.

Although the man’s genetic sequencing is a perfect match for a returned traveller from the US in hotel quarantine, NSW Health is yet to trace the exact point of transmission.

Authorities continue to believe he caught the virus during brief contact with an infectious person who was likely running errands in the community.

“The team has been thinking of every which way this transmission could have occurred,” Dr Chant told 2GB on Tuesday.

“(So far it is a) case that’s popped up in the eastern suburbs without explanation.

“We’ve always got to keep an open mind that there could be another source.

“This always adds uncertainty but at the moment we don’t have any clear crossover point for this gentleman.”

NSW Health has listed nine venues as close contact, which requires people who visited during allocated times to self-isolate for 14 days regardless of their test result.

Dr Chant urged businesses and their customers to continue vigilantly signing in using the Service NSW app’s QR code.

“This is a wake up call … the QR codes, we really need those and people to be using them,” she said.

“I think people can get a bit complacent.

“We have asked people to make sure they are in prominent places (within stores).

“We want to make sure there’s no other transmission occurring in the community that we are missing.

“(COVID-19) can be quite mild … so people might be putting off getting a test. But we need everyone pulling together … and come forward for testing.”



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Baxter reunited with owner after allegedly being stolen from outside Sydney shop


A man has been reunited with his dog after she was allegedly stolen from outside a shop in the Sydney CBD.

Police charged a man over the alleged theft of the four-year-old female pit bull terrier, who was allegedly taken from while tied up out the front of the Northface shop on Friday night.

About 8.20pm the dog’s owner tied up the dog, whose name is Baxter, on the corner of Liverpool and George St. When he returned he found Baxter was gone.

Yesterday police released CCTV images of a man and woman they believed could help with their investigations.

RELATED:Police believe dog taken from shop

RELATED: Obamas mourn loss of ‘true friend’

Police investigating said they were told a man and woman were last seen with Baxter walking south on George St.

After a public appeal for information, a man, 38, attended the Day St Police Station with Baxter the dog.

He was arrested and charged with stealing a dog.

The man was refused bail and will appear in Central Local Court today.

Baxter, who has a brown coat with white mark on her chest, was reunited with her owner in a heartwarming video.

The pooch wagged her tail vigorously and wiggled around, as they were brought back together in the foyer at the Day St Police Station in Sydney.

The adorable video quickly went viral and has been viewed more than 104,000 times, and attracted more than 2600 reactions.

“Great police work guys,” one man wrote.

“OMG this is such good news,” a woman wrote. “That guy got his doggo back.”

“Fantastic news. Glad (she’s) back where she belongs,” another said.



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Tiahleigh Palmer inquest to probe how she was murdered by Richard Thorburn


A coronial inquest will seek to trace the final moments of Tiahleigh Palmer and find a definitive cause of her death at the hands of her foster father.

Despite pleading guilty to the heinous murder in 2018, Richard Thorburn has never divulged how he killed the 12-year-old in October 2015.

At a pre-inquest hearing on Tuesday, Deputy State Coroner Jane Bentley heard that when girl’s body was discovered in November 2015, it was so badly decomposed that the autopsy had failed to determine a cause of death.

The primary focus of the inquest, set to take place on June 8 and 9, will be to learn “anything else” including what actions Thorburn took to kill his foster daughter, how he disposed of her body and how Tiahleigh spent her “last moments”.

Thorburn is currently serving a life sentence for the murder and is not eligible for parole until September 2036.

Counsel assisting the inquest Kate McMahon gave a short opening statement while the court was shown a picture of the girl in a dance costume, supplied by her biological mother Cindy, who is currently overseas, but will return for the inquest.

Ms McMahon said that on the night of October 29, 2015 at 5.45pm, Tiahleigh was last seen alive by an independent witness and had been to a hip hop dance class, during which she complained of stomach pains.

That same evening, Thorburn’s youngest son Trent told his mother Julene Thorburn that on the previous Sunday he had had sex with Tiahleigh and was concerned she was pregnant.

“Shortly after, Mrs Thorburn told Mr Thorburn what she had been told. Some discussion ensued,” Ms McMahon said.

Ms McMahon said the foster parents feared the stomach pains Tiahleigh was experiencing “might be consistent with pregnancy” and could send their youngest son to jail.

“That night, there was a period of two hours (8pm – 10pm) where Richard and Tiahleigh were alone in the house together,” Ms McMahon said.

“When the family returned, they were told ‘she is no longer with us. I hope you know what that means. I have taken care of it’ and not to ask questions.

“During those two hours, he killed her.”

Tiahleigh was not reported missing until midday on October 30 when it was noted she had not been at school.

“Richard concocted a story about dropping her at school. (He then) helped police to search for her,” Ms McMahon said.

“That night, he disposed of her body.”

Her body was found on the edge of the Pimpama River by a group of fishermen six days after her death.

Ms McMahon said the people who loved her wanted answers.

The inquest will hear from Richard, Julene, Joshua and Trent Thorburn, as well as Detective Inspector Chris Knight who was the operations leader in the homicide investigation.

KEY DEVELOPMENTS IN TIAHLEIGH’S CASE

Oct. 30, 2015: Tiahleigh’s foster father Rick Thorburn says he dropped the 12-year-old at Marsden State High School. It was the last time she was seen alive.

Nov. 5, 2015: Three fishermen find a girl’s body on the banks of the Pimpama River on the Gold Coast. It’s later confirmed to be Tiahleigh.

Nov. 14, 2015: Tiahleigh is remembered as a “beautifully imperfect” girl at her Gold Coast funeral, where Thorburn was a pallbearer.

Feb. 15, 2016: Police offer a $250,000 reward for information to solve the schoolgirl’s murder.

March 14, 2016: Biological mother Cindy Palmer makes a public appeal to help find her daughter’s killer.

Sept 20, 2016: Rick Thorburn is charged with Tiahleigh’s murder. Foster mother Julene and their sons Trent and Joshua are also arrested. Trent is charged with incest, perjury and attempting to pervert the course of justice. Julene and Joshua are charged with perjury and attempting to pervert the course of justice.

Sept 21, 2016: Rick Thorburn fails to face court after a reported overdose.

Sept 23, 2016: Detectives say the foster family’s home is a primary crime scene.

June 28, 2017: Rick Thorburn is committed to stand trial for murder.

July 27, 2017: Josh Thorburn is sentenced to 15 months’ jail after admitting to perjury and attempting to pervert the course of justice.

Sept 14, 2017: Trent Thorburn is sentenced to four years’ jail after admitting he had sex with Tiahleigh.

Nov. 3, 2017: Julene Thorburn is sentenced to 18 months’ jail for perjury and attempting to pervert the course of justice, with the sentence suspended after six months.

Jan 19, 2018: Trent Thorburn is released on parole after 16 months behind bars.

Feb. 16, 2018: Rick Thorburn seeks a judge-only trial due to publicity surrounding the case.

May 25, 2018: Rick Thorburn is sentenced to life imprisonment for murder.

June 8-9, 2021: A coronial inquest will seek to discover how Tiahleigh died.



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Qld Treasurer demands Morrison ‘gives us our fair share’


The Palaszczuk government has unleashed on Canberra for failing to give Queensland its fair share in the federal budget, demanding more funding for roads and transport infrastructure as the state’s population rapidly grows.

Sunshine State Treasurer Cameron Dick said the previously reported $1.6bn allocated to Queensland for roads and rail pales in comparison to the $3bn expected to be given to both NSW and Victoria, and $2.6bn to South Australia “for a single road tunnel”.

State migration added 30,000 residents to Queensland last year, according to Australian Bureau of Statistics, compared to population losses of 19,000 and 13,000 in NSW and Victoria respectively.

Mr Dick said the sharp rise had placed pressure on housing, hospitals, roads and schools, and demanded Prime Minister Scott Morrison “end his rotten rip-off of Queensland” in the federal budget.

“South Australia had net interstate migration last year of just 98 people,” he told Queensland parliament on Tuesday morning.

“Why on earth do 98 people need a $2.6 billion road tunnel? I’ll tell you why, it’s called the federal Liberal electorate of Boothby with its razor-thin margin of 1.38 per cent.

“Meanwhile, lazy federal LNP members in Queensland on fat margins get nothing for our state.”

Mr Dick said the federal government had offered no financial support for the Cross River Rail major transport project while investing in inferior projects interstate.

“When we had a route, we had a business case, we had every expert in the country screaming that it was needed,” he told parliament.

“Yet Melbourne got $5 billion for an airport rail line, when there wasn’t even a map setting out where it would go.

“Sydney got $5.3 billion for a brand new airport.

“And let’s not forget Geelong, which got $2 billion for fast rail and a brand new $50 million hospital, funded by the federal LNP.”



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Boy, 13, killed by garbage truck after sleeping in bin


A 13-year-old boy has been killed in a horrific garbage truck accident in Port Lincoln.

Police say three boys, aged 11, 12 and 13, were allegedly asleep in an industrial bin early on Tuesday morning when the bin was being emptied.

Emergency services were called just after 5.20am on Tuesday to the Repco carpark, next to a McDonald’s drive thru, on Liverpool Street.

One boy managed to escape, but the teenager sustained serious injuries and died at the scene.

The third boy was not injured in the accident.

A statement from SA police says the truck driver was not aware the boys were in the bin and is “extremely shaken” by the incident.

All three boys are from the Port Lincoln area.

Safe Work SA have been notified, and police will prepare a report for the coroner.

The Repco car park has been cordoned off as detectives process the scene.

Adelaide MP Nat Cook shared the news on Twitter, branding it an “absolute tragedy”, while Senator Justin Hanson wrote: “How could this happen?”

Port Lincoln is on the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia, about a seven-hour drive from the Adelaide CBD, or 251 kilometres directly across the water.

More to come.



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Dr Kerry Chant urges QR code check-ins with Service NSW app


NSW chief health officer Kerry Chant has stressed the importance of using QR codes to check into businesses as COVID-19 contact tracers scramble to find the source of infection for a man from Sydney’s eastern suburbs.

A man aged in his 50s and his wife became the first locally-acquired cases of the virus in NSW in more than a month when they tested positive last week.

Although the man’s genetic sequencing is a perfect match for a returned traveller from the US in hotel quarantine, NSW Health is yet to trace the exact point of transmission.

Authorities continue to believe he caught the virus during brief contact with an infectious person who was likely running errands in the community.

“The team has been thinking of every which way this transmission could have occurred,” Dr Chant told 2GB on Tuesday.

“(So far it is a) case that’s popped up in the eastern suburbs without explanation.

“We’ve always got to keep an open mind that there could be another source.

“This always adds uncertainty but at the moment we don’t have any clear crossover point for this gentleman.”

NSW Health has listed nine venues as close contact, which requires people who visited during allocated times to self-isolate for 14 days regardless of their test result.

Dr Chant urged businesses and their customers to continue vigilantly signing in using the Service NSW app’s QR code.

“This is a wake up call … the QR codes, we really need those and people to be using them,” she said.

“I think people can get a bit complacent.

“We have asked people to make sure they are in prominent places (within stores).

“We want to make sure there’s no other transmission occurring in the community that we are missing.

“(COVID-19) can be quite mild … so people might be putting off getting a test. But we need everyone pulling together … and come forward for testing.”



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Port Pirie mayor hits back at viral ‘sh*t town’ ranking


The mayor of what’s just been dubbed the “sh*ttest town of South Australia” has hit back at the popular Facebook page that publishes the rankings.

The “Sh*t Towns of Australia” Facebook page today published the results of its South Australia poll.

Port Pirie, three hours north of Adelaide, ranked first, with 38 per cent of the vote.

Speaking to the ABC, Port Pirie Mayor Leon Stephens said the joke was getting old.

“I might be showing my age or whatever but I think this is getting pretty tired,” he said.

“It’s a bit like a dad joke that’s continually going on and I think that it’s time that we changed it up a little bit.”

Mr Stephens also had his own dig at one of the founders of “Sh*t Towns of Australia”, Geoff Rissole, and said the town’s top ranking was “probably about as impressive as a name called Geoff Rissole”.

“I do really want Mr Rissole to make himself known next time he comes to Port Pirie, so that we can actually show him some of the good side of things, and maybe we might drop down to fifth or ninth on the list,” he said.

RELATED: 2020’s worst towns in Australia revealed

Mr Rissole and Rick Furphy are the masterminds behind the Facebook phenomenon Sh*t Towns of Australia, where close to a quarter of a million people espouse their love – or declare their hatred – for locations around the country.

Last year the pair declared Logan, Queensland, as “the cr*phole voted Sh*t Town of the Year for second year running”.

“Congratulations to LOGAN on being voted Sh*t Town of the Year for the second year running! Bogan City managed to out-sh*t the putrid poo pit of Port Pirie in the final, winning back-to-back brown crowns and being named the sh*ttiest town in this sh*ttiest of years. Gives yourselves a pat on the backside, Logan!” the pair wrote.

Also on the unflattering list of 2020’s worst towns were Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Hervey Bay in Queensland, Nimbin and Nowra in NSW, and Port Pirie.

– with Natalie Brown



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Israel’s vaccination success raises hope it may have achieved herd immunity


Israel looks like it may have achieved herd immunity, with its aggressive vaccination program helping the country achieve a staggering decrease in coronavirus cases.

The continuing decline in cases, despite the easing of lockdown restrictions, is being hailed as proof vaccination does work and the country may even have achieved herd immunity.

The country of about nine million people began rolling out Pfizer vaccinations in December around the time its third and largest wave of COVID-19 infections began to take off, with a record high of 11,934 cases on January 27.

However, Israel has since managed to get its cases under control, with the European Union on Thursday adding it to its list of safe countries that can freely travel to Europe for tourism, alongside Australia, South Korea, Singapore and Thailand.

Israel has undertaken the most rapid per capita vaccination campaign in the world, with about five million people receiving both jabs in less than four months.

The fast-tracked strategy looks to have paid off, helping to bring infections down rapidly even after restrictions were eased.

On Thursday, the largest real-world study of the Pfizer vaccine published in The Lancet medical journal confirmed the jab had provided more than 95 per cent protection against COVID-19 in Israel, providing hope of a pathway out of the pandemic.

“56% fully vaccinated in Israel & persistent decline without kids vaxxed yet. Looks like herd immunity,” Monash University infectious diseases lecturer Dr Michelle Ananda-Rajah tweeted on Sunday.

Last month Professor Eyal Leshem, a director at Israel’s largest hospital, the Chaim Sheba Medical Centre, told the BBC the country may be close to reaching “herd immunity”.

He said it was the “only explanation” for Israel’s continued fall in cases as more restrictions were lifted.

Deakin University epidemiologist Professor Catherine Bennett told news.com.au Israel was showing “fantastic results”.

“They still had thousands of cases when they began progressively opening up,” she said.

“That tells you what vaccines are able to do.”

Israel progressively tightened restrictions from the end of December as coronavirus cases climbed higher in January before relaxing them in early February.

At its peak the seven-day moving average reached 8328 new infections per day and was still at almost 7000 cases on February 7 when restrictions began to be eased.

However, cases continued to drop, giving the government confidence to ease restrictions further, including dropping the use of masks in open spaces.

By April 19 the average had dropped to about 149 cases a day, “indicating effective control of the pandemic within the country’s borders”, Prof Leshem and Professor Annelies Wilder-Smith of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine noted in a commentary piece in The Lancet.

Significantly Prof Bennett said the results published in TheLancet on Thursday indicate the Pfizer vaccine was controlling transmission between people, including those without symptoms. This indicates herd immunity may be possible.

The results showed the vaccine was 95.3 per cent effective against COVID-19 infection at seven days or longer after the second dose had been given.

It was 97 per cent effective against symptomatic infection but also 91.5 per cent effective against asymptomatic infection (when someone shows no symptoms).

The results suggest that “high vaccine coverage could offer a way out of the pandemic”, professors Lesham and Wilder-Smith noted in their comment piece.

The study also indicates Pfizer is highly effective against the more infectious United Kingdom (B.1.1.7) variant of the virus, which was estimated to account for 95 per cent of cases in Israel.

Achieving herd immunity

Herd immunity is achieved if enough of the population is vaccinated or immune to the disease, which slows the spread of the virus to the point of it dying out, as it can’t easily find more people to infect.

Prof Bennett said “technical herd immunity” would only be achieved when it could be demonstrated that the virus couldn’t reseed in the community

However, being able to get its infections down from about 10,000 a day to about 200 a day while reopening its businesses was a sign vaccinations were working to suppress transmission.

“Even if it doesn’t kill off the virus or cause the virus to die out, it certainly now makes it containable by normal contact tracing and other measures,” Prof Bennett said.

She said the vaccine appeared to be slowing the spread of COVID-19, which gives authorities the chance to find cases before they were able to spread the virus further.

“The vaccine has slowed the virus down enough that normal public health responses can now operate,” she said.

RELATED: Why herd immunity is important

Economist and modeller Professor Quentin Grafton of Australian National University is among a group of experts calling for Australia to switch away from the AstraZeneca vaccine to other options like Pfizer, as they are more effective against other more infectious variants of the virus and more likely to lead to herd immunity.

However, Prof Bennett doesn’t agree, and believes “the vaccine you have in your arm is better than a potential one down the track”.

“AstraZeneca has fantastic efficacy on most strains,” she told news.com.au.

“To not give it when we’ve got it, is problematic to me.”

Unlike Pfizer, which has to be shipped to Australia from overseas manufacturers, AstraZeneca is being produced locally.

Delays in overseas shipments of vaccines has contributed to huge delays in Australia’s vaccination program, with around four million doses being administered in two months since the rollout began in late February. The Morrison Government initially said it wanted four million people vaccinated by the end of March and all adults covered by the end of October, an ambitious goal that has since been abandoned.

RELATED: How Israel achieved fast-tracked vaccination program

However, the rollout is ramping up with those aged over 50 now able to book a vaccination, and those aged 40-49 in NSW able to register for the Pfizer jab.

Prof Bennett said it was better to use the vaccine that was available as eventually they would all be tweaked and improved to give better coverage.

She said waiting for Pfizer would push the vaccination program “well into next year” and Australia could struggle as the rest of the world opened up using vaccinations such as Pfizer or AstraZeneca.

“I don’t think cutting back on our vaccination strategy now makes public sense,” she said.

“We need to have some level of population protection and then we can build on that.”

charis.chang@news.com.au | @charischang2





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Heavy rainfall, hail, storms, floods to hit Victoria, NSW, Qld


The nation’s east coast is bracing for an “unusual” mid-May cold front that is set to bring heavy rainfall, thunderstorms, large hail and a risk of flooding.

Severe thunderstorms with damaging winds, large hail and heavy rainfall may lead to flash flooding across northeast NSW and southeast Queensland on Tuesday.

Eastern Victoria and the NSW south coast is also expected to be hit on Tuesday with a severe weather warning issued for heavy rainfall that may lead to flash flooding.

Many places across Australia’s southeast could also shiver through their coldest day of the year so far with snow forecast in many areas.

Sky News meteorologist Alison Osborne said temperatures behind the cold front would be chilly on Tuesday with afternoon maximums below 15C across Victoria, Tasmania below 10C and below 15C across most of southeastern NSW.

“It will be noticeably cooler in places like Sydney and Newcastle as well,” she said.

Weather bureau meteorologist Sarah Scully said thunderstorms would peak during the afternoon on Tuesday in southeast Queensland and northern NSW.

“Mid-May is an unusual time for severe thunderstorms to develop but high humidity combined with an upper level low are forecast to bring increased thunderstorm activity (beginning in) the early hours of Tuesday morning,” she said.

“Storms are forecast to continue into Wednesday and Thursday, however, they will be less likely to be severe.”

In the southeast, widespread falls of 40-70mm, with isolated heavier totals of more than 100mm have been forecast for far east Gippsland and the ranges.

The weather bureau is also concerned about flooding, with a watch in place for most Gippsland catchments.

The severe weather warning is in place for Gippsland, the Otway Ranges and parts of south coast and alpine areas of NSW.

The heavy rainfall is forecast to slowly contract eastwards and ease late Tuesday into the hours of early Wednesday.

Weather bureau senior meteorologist Chris Arvier said the catchments were already saturated and “primed for rainfall”.

“There is a flooding concern with this rainfall and minor flooding is possible throughout the day on Tuesday,” he said.

“As the low stalls in the Tasman Sea it’s going to basically sit offshore and bring in a lot of rainfall.

“By Wednesday we’re expecting a mostly sunny day, relatively cool though in the morning, we’re likely to have a little bit of a frosty morning on Wednesday.”

jack.paynter@news.com.au



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Israel’s vaccination success raises hope it may have achieved herd immunity


Israel looks like it may have achieved herd immunity, with its aggressive vaccination program helping the country achieve a staggering decrease in coronavirus cases.

The continuing decline in cases, despite the easing of lockdown restrictions, is being hailed as proof vaccination does work and the country may even have achieved herd immunity.

The country of about nine million people began rolling out Pfizer vaccinations in December around the time its third and largest wave of COVID-19 infections began to take off, with a record high of 11,934 cases on January 27.

However, Israel has since managed to get its cases under control, with the European Union on Thursday adding it to its list of safe countries that can freely travel to Europe for tourism, alongside Australia, South Korea, Singapore and Thailand.

Israel has undertaken the most rapid per capita vaccination campaign in the world, with about five million people receiving both jabs in less than four months.

The fast-tracked strategy looks to have paid off, helping to bring infections down rapidly even after restrictions were eased.

On Thursday, the largest real-world study of the Pfizer vaccine published in The Lancet medical journal confirmed the jab had provided more than 95 per cent protection against COVID-19 in Israel, providing hope of a pathway out of the pandemic.

“56% fully vaccinated in Israel & persistent decline without kids vaxxed yet. Looks like herd immunity,” Monash University infectious diseases lecturer Dr Michelle Ananda-Rajah tweeted on Sunday.

Last month Professor Eyal Leshem, a director at Israel’s largest hospital, the Chaim Sheba Medical Centre, told the BBC the country may be close to reaching “herd immunity”.

He said it was the “only explanation” for Israel’s continued fall in cases as more restrictions were lifted.

Deakin University epidemiologist Professor Catherine Bennett told news.com.au Israel was showing “fantastic results”.

“They still had thousands of cases when they began progressively opening up,” she said.

“That tells you what vaccines are able to do.”

Israel progressively tightened restrictions from the end of December as coronavirus cases climbed higher in January before relaxing them in early February.

At its peak the seven-day moving average reached 8328 new infections per day and was still at almost 7000 cases on February 7 when restrictions began to be eased.

However, cases continued to drop, giving the government confidence to ease restrictions further, including dropping the use of masks in open spaces.

By April 19 the average had dropped to about 149 cases a day, “indicating effective control of the pandemic within the country’s borders”, Prof Leshem and Professor Annelies Wilder-Smith of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine noted in a commentary piece in The Lancet.

Significantly Prof Bennett said the results published in TheLancet on Thursday indicate the Pfizer vaccine was controlling transmission between people, including those without symptoms. This indicates herd immunity may be possible.

The results showed the vaccine was 95.3 per cent effective against COVID-19 infection at seven days or longer after the second dose had been given.

It was 97 per cent effective against symptomatic infection but also 91.5 per cent effective against asymptomatic infection (when someone shows no symptoms).

The results suggest that “high vaccine coverage could offer a way out of the pandemic”, professors Lesham and Wilder-Smith noted in their comment piece.

The study also indicates Pfizer is highly effective against the more infectious United Kingdom (B.1.1.7) variant of the virus, which was estimated to account for 95 per cent of cases in Israel.

Achieving herd immunity

Herd immunity is achieved if enough of the population is vaccinated or immune to the disease, which slows the spread of the virus to the point of it dying out, as it can’t easily find more people to infect.

Prof Bennett said “technical herd immunity” would only be achieved when it could be demonstrated that the virus couldn’t reseed in the community

However, being able to get its infections down from about 10,000 a day to about 200 a day while reopening its businesses was a sign vaccinations were working to suppress transmission.

“Even if it doesn’t kill off the virus or cause the virus to die out, it certainly now makes it containable by normal contact tracing and other measures,” Prof Bennett said.

She said the vaccine appeared to be slowing the spread of COVID-19, which gives authorities the chance to find cases before they were able to spread the virus further.

“The vaccine has slowed the virus down enough that normal public health responses can now operate,” she said.

RELATED: Why herd immunity is important

Economist and modeller Professor Quentin Grafton of Australian National University is among a group of experts calling for Australia to switch away from the AstraZeneca vaccine to other options like Pfizer, as they are more effective against other more infectious variants of the virus and more likely to lead to herd immunity.

However, Prof Bennett doesn’t agree, and believes “the vaccine you have in your arm is better than a potential one down the track”.

“AstraZeneca has fantastic efficacy on most strains,” she told news.com.au.

“To not give it when we’ve got it, is problematic to me.”

Unlike Pfizer, which has to be shipped to Australia from overseas manufacturers, AstraZeneca is being produced locally.

Delays in overseas shipments of vaccines has contributed to huge delays in Australia’s vaccination program, with around four million doses being administered in two months since the rollout began in late February. The Morrison Government initially said it wanted four million people vaccinated by the end of March and all adults covered by the end of October, an ambitious goal that has since been abandoned.

RELATED: How Israel achieved fast-tracked vaccination program

However, the rollout is ramping up with those aged over 50 now able to book a vaccination, and those aged 40-49 in NSW able to register for the Pfizer jab.

Prof Bennett said it was better to use the vaccine that was available as eventually they would all be tweaked and improved to give better coverage.

She said waiting for Pfizer would push the vaccination program “well into next year” and Australia could struggle as the rest of the world opened up using vaccinations such as Pfizer or AstraZeneca.

“I don’t think cutting back on our vaccination strategy now makes public sense,” she said.

“We need to have some level of population protection and then we can build on that.”

charis.chang@news.com.au | @charischang2





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