Lockdowns to control Covid-19 may still be needed after 80 per cent of the population is vaccinated – but they will be ‘almost completely unnecessary’, Scott Morrison has said.
Modelling released on Tuesday showed that if an outbreak of the Delta strain lasted for six months then 1,984 Australians would die if 70 per cent of the population were vaccinated and 1,281 would died if 80 per cent were double-jabbed.
Mr Morrison said that scenario wouldn’t happen because state governments would re-introduce restrictions regardless of vaccination rates.
Doherty Institute modelling (pictured) released on Tuesday showed that if an outbreak of the Delta strain lasted for six months with only ‘baseline restrictions’ then 1,984 Australians would die if 70 per cent of the population were vaccinated and 1,281 would died if 80 per cent were fully-jabbed
‘I have no doubt that if such a scenario were to eventuate, then there are additional measures that would be taken to avert those types of outcomes,’ he said.
‘In the same way if we had a very aggressive flu strain that was moving in a similar direction that would have similar results then obviously governments would take steps.
‘But the likelihood of that occurring under an 80 per cent vaccination rate or indeed the other figures you have there at 70 per cent is obviously very different.’
The Prime Minister said an 80 per cent vaccination rate would allow the nation to treat Covid-19 like flu and only require restrictions to prevent too many deaths instead of stopping infections.
‘There will always be infectious diseases resulting in hospitalisation, and indeed in death,’ he said.
‘That is something that happens, sadly, each and every day, that is the world we live in, and I think Australians understand that.’
Mr Morrison said that once 80 per cent of population have been vaccinated than lockdowns are ‘almost completely unnecessary’.
The modelling by the Doherty Institute said that a 70 per cent vaccination rate could be achieved by October 18 if AstraZeneca doses are given four weeks apart and 80 per cent could be vaccinated by November 8.
If doses are given 12 weeks apart then the latest date an 80 per cent rate is predicted to be reached is November 22.
Under Mr Morrison’s four-stage re-opening plan, a state or territory can move to remove the need for restrictions when the national vaccination rate hits 70 per cent and the rate in that state also hits 70 per cent.
Restrictions to control Covid-19 may still be needed after 80 per cent of the population is vaccinated – but they will be much less likely, Scott Morrison (pictured) has warned
Residents queue up for their dose of the Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine at the Homebush vaccination centre in Sydney on Monday
Mr Morrison said he hopes this phase will be achieved before the end of the year but warned the timing ‘is entirely up to how the nation responds to this challenge we’re setting for ourselves.’
This phase, known as phase B, will make lockdowns ‘less likely’ and will give doubled-vaccinated people ‘special rules’ to allow them more freedom than Aussies who refuse a jab.
A ‘small working group’ involving the Northern Territory, Victoria and Tasmania has been set up to determine which restrictions will not apply to the double-vaccinated.
The Prime Minister warned that some localised lockdowns may be required in phase B but ‘broad-based metropolitan-wide lockdowns’ shutdowns will not be needed.
The phase will increase the cap for vaccinated Australians arriving from overseas and allow ‘reduced’ quarantine requirements such as home quarantine – as well as capped entry for students and economic visa holders.
Phase C begins when 80 per cent of adults are double-jabbed, allowing vaccinated Australians to travel overseas for any reason.
Lockdowns and state borders will be largely removed when 70 per cent of Australians over 16 are jabbed, Scott Morrison announced. He is pictured holding his four-stage plan
Travel bubbles will be set up with safer countries such as Singapore to allow vaccinated travellers to fly in without quarantine.
Mr Morrison said a country would be deemed safe if it has ‘the same sort of vaccination levels as Australia’. The UK has already fully vaccinated 71.4 per cent of adults.
Phase C will remove all domestic restrictions on double-jabbed Aussies and abolish caps on returning vaccinated Australians.
There is no vaccination rate set for phase D, which will remove almost all rules except for testing of unvaccinated arrivals and quarantine for arrivals from ‘high risk’ places.
The Prime Minister warned the plan is based on the Delta variant and is ‘subject to change’ if a new, more contagious variant comes along.
What are the four phases of opening up?
A. Vaccinate, prepare and pilot (from July 14)
Arrival caps cut in half to 3,035 a week; early, stringent and short lockdowns if outbreaks occur; trials of seven-day home quarantine for vaccinated arrivals in South Australia; medicare vaccination certificates available on apps like apple wallet
B. Post vaccination phase (when 70 per cent are jabbed, expected late this year)
Lockdowns ‘less likely but possible’; vaccinated people face reduced restrictions; caps for unvaccinated arrivals increased; a larger cap for vaccinated arrivals with ‘reduced quarantine requirements’; capped entry for students and economic visa holders
C. Consolidation phase (when 80 per cent are jabbed, time not announced)
‘Highly targeted’ lockdowns only; lifting all restrictions for outbound travel for vaccinated travellers; no caps for vaccinated arrivals; increased caps for students and visa holders; more travel bubbles being set up with countries such as Singapore; booster shots rolled out
D. Final phase (percentage or time not announced)
Uncapped arrivals for vaccinated people without any quarantine and uncapped arrivals for unvaccinated people with testing before departure and on arrival