Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced that a national COVID-19 vaccination target of 80% will be required for Australia to reopen and remove crippling pandemic restrictions.
However, the target that will trigger the start of the graduation easing of restrictions has been set at 70 per cent of vaccinated eligible Australians.
That’s seven in every 10 people eligible for the jab receiving both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Following an evaluation of scientific modelling from the Doherty Institute and economic modelling from the Treasury, Commonwealth, state, and territory leaders have “agreed in principle” to the plan and the targets for a four-stage plan roadmap from Covid.”
“These are targets for all Australians to achieve,” the Prime Minister said.
“States, territories, working together, communities working together, individuals, GPs, pharmacists. Australia will get this done by working together.
“The targets are there for us all to achieve and for us all to work towards.”
Australia is still under “Phase A” or the suppression stage of the roadmap.
The transition “Phase B” stage follows, which results in the relaxation of restrictions, with a newly agreed-upon target of 70% of eligible people. That target must be met by the entire country, as well as by each individual state.
The target for the next stage, “Phase C,” where vaccinated residents will have no domestic restrictions and vaccinated Australians will be able to travel overseas, is 80%. Lockdowns will be used only when necessary.
No vaccination target has been decided for the final phase.
The PM says Australia will reopen with caution.
“We don’t go from shut one day, open the next. That is a very, in our view, dangerous path,” he said.
“What we need to do is take steps towards that, sensible, cautious steps, we get to 70 per cent. So let’s get there and then we get to 80 per cent and we make that work and then we get to the next level.”
There is no timeline or timeframe for achieving the targets in this plan.
The Prime Minister has deferred to the Australian people, though at current vaccination rates, it is expected to be some time away.
After more than five months of vaccination, only 18.2 percent of people aged 16 and up have been fully immunised against COVID-19.
More than 210,000 vaccine doses were administered in the last 24 hours, setting a new record for the second consecutive day.
“We haven’t put timelines on this because timelines are now in the hands of all Australians, state and territory governments, and the federal government,” the PM said.
It comes as the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveals disturbing new information on the danger of the Delta variant which is currently spreading in Sydney.
The variant, according to the CDC, also likely increases the risk of severe disease and hospitalisation over the original COVID-19 strain.
The variant is also more likely than the original to spread through vaccinated people, but the COVID-19 vaccines have proved highly effective in preventing serious illness, hospitalisation, and death.
By Joe Cusmano