Warning for new COVID-19 wave next year | The Canberra Times

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Leading epidemiologists have warned that Australia could face another wave of COVID-19 next year, similar to the one currently experienced in several European countries. The warning comes as some jurisdictions have moved to further relax their COVID-19 restrictions, while some countries have reached important vaccine milestones. Professor Raina MacIntyre, an infectious disease expert, urged Australia to prioritize booster shots in the coming months to prevent the situation in Europe from unfolding in Australia. Several countries on the continent have reintroduced lockdowns and restrictions in response to an increase in the number of cases during the northern hemisphere winter. “We should start to consider ourselves fully vaccinated once we’ve had three doses,” Professor MacIntyre told the Nine Network on Thursday. “The immunity from two doses of vaccine, whether from AstraZeneca or Pfizer, starts to wane after a few months.” Additional COVID-19 vaccinations are available for those who completed their first course of vaccination six months ago. The infectious disease expert said Australia would be vulnerable to new spikes if much of the population does not receive booster vaccination. “We shouldn’t think we’re exceptional,” she said. “We have to look at the lessons from abroad and we can avoid that.” The latest vaccine figures show that 86 percent of the national population aged 16 and over have been fully vaccinated, while 91.9 percent have received the first dose. Victoria became the third jurisdiction, after the ACT and NSW, to have 90 percent fully vaccinated, reaching the milestone on Thursday. It comes as the NSW government announced plans to further relax restrictions when the state has fully vaccinated 95 percent, or by December 15 at the latest. It includes removing all density limits and easing mask rules, while checking in via QR codes is only required in high-risk locations such as hospitals and aged care. The measures also coincide for when the exclusion of unvaccinated people in the state will end. NSW recorded zero fatalities for COVID-19 on Thursday, but had 276 cases. Victoria recorded a further 1,254 cases and five deaths from viruses. There was only one new case in the Northern Territory after the Top End had a recent spike in infections. In SA, dozens of people have been quarantined when two COVID cases were discovered among interstate travelers, bringing the number of infections to three since the state border reopened. The ACT registered eight new cases. Australian Associated Press

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