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The report found that the $80 million lottery could boost the rate of the COVID vaccine as part of an 80 percent goal plan

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Australia must maintain its COVID-zero strategy until 80 per cent of the population is fully vaccinated, including 95 per cent of people over the age of 70, according to a report by the Grattan Institute.

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The self-reliant think tank also recommended that the government offer an $80 million lottery with $10 million in prize money to ten vaccinated winners each week starting in November, when supply problems were fixed.

“What that does is donate people an incentive to go out and get a vaccine, and reward those who have done the right thing from a community perspective,” said Grattan CEO Danielle Wood.

“We found ourselves doing a lot of things that we didn’t expect to do in the final couple of years. Increasing vaccination numbers is critical, and so we need to think outside the box.”

The research center has modeled scenarios for how a delta outbreak would spread at distinct vaccination rates.

It comes as the federal government is studying modeling from the Doherty Institute to aid decision makers chart Australia’s path out of the pandemic.

This modeling has been handed over to the government and will now be considered by the National Cabinet, which will set vaccination targets in the nation’s opening up.

There are benefits to waiting

The Grattan Institute has modeled case numbers, hospitalizations, and deaths in a delta outbreak with varying vaccination rates.

“Our models suggest that 80 per cent is the level we need for relief as we have severed the link between COVID cases and severe health effects,” Ms Wood said.

“Even if the virus was at the most transmissible end, we wouldn’t end up with thousands of people in hospitals, we wouldn’t end up outstripping our ICU capacity, and in fact, COVID at that point looks more like seasonal flu.”


And staying away from COVID-0 too beforetime, she said, risks sowing a widespread outbreak that quickly spirals out of control.

“There are risks of going too beforetime…there are believable scenarios under which you get very powerful case growth, lofty numbers of severe cases, and you end up with a massive capacity of the hospital system…usually at this point governments end up going back to operations. Closure.

“There are benefits to waiting, we have one chance to do it right.”


Incentives can boost numbers

While there are a significant number of people who are not yet vaccinated, routine surveys indicate that there are not many ‘anti-vaccinators’ in Australia.

Consistently, only one in 10 Australians have told pollsters that they will never be vaccinated.

A recent survey by Essential Research found that most people are either already vaccinated or eager to get vaccinated as soon as conceivable.

[CHART: polling]

The Grattan Institute says the focus should be on persuading the people in the middle, who are likely to get vaccinated but are late.

“There’s an issue for incentives…one thing we recommend is the lottery,” Wood said.

“We also think we should look at vaccination passports, and require people to show proof of vaccination to go to restaurants, big-scale events, and sporting events.”

Grattan recommended holding a weekly $10 million national lottery in Australia with $10 million prizes each week, starting with the first Melbourne Cup draw – and then every week until the Tuesday prior Christmas.

It has suggested that every vaccinated Australian could be in the draw each week (as well as people with a medical exemption from vaccination) and that those who received one vaccination would have one chance each week, with those fully vaccinated doubling their chances.

How lengthy will it take?

Ms Wood said that through concerted efforts, a vaccination rate of 80 per cent was “driven, but achievable”.

“Our numbers suggest that you could reach 80 percent by the end of the year if the vaccine becomes available to children under 12 and distributes it in schools,” she said.

“If we don’t get approval in the next few months for this type of vaccine, it will take much longer…we definitely think that by the end of March 2022 it can be achieved.”

The Australian regulator has approved the Pfizer vaccine for children over 12 years old, and clinical trials are taking place in younger age groups.

Herd immunity is firm to accomplish: Researchers

Separate research led by infectious disease physicians and mathematicians at James Cook University indicates that we would need to vaccinate up to 85 percent of the population to accomplish herd immunity.

The preprint paper, which has not yet been revised, notes that it would be firm to reach this number without vaccinating children under 15 as well.

If the virus becomes more contagious than it is now, herd immunity may not be conceivable through vaccination alone, said infectious disease preparer Emma McBride.

The exact vaccination rate required to accomplish herd immunity depends on both the variant you are dealing with and the efficacy of the vaccines.

“With the Delta strain, it’s firm to reach herd immunity,” she said.

“It’s much more contagious…instead of needing to vaccinate 60 percent of the entire population, it has gone up to 80-85 percent, which means we’ll likely need to vaccinate adolescents in order to accomplish herd immunity.”

But even if that rate is not achieved, Professor McBride says we must still strive to get as close as conceivable.

“We’ll still get pleasing herd protection measures without getting herd immunity.”

Every single dose helps

The Grattan Institute estimated a similar threshold for herd immunity as the James Cook University team.

But even if we don’t reach herd immunity, we still benefit, because every single dose deprives the virus of its chances of infection and reduces its rate of transmission.

Under Delta, some estimates have found that each infected person will transmit the virus to five or more other people in a non-immunized group — in other words, with no vaccines, have a reproduction number, or RV, of five.

Each person vaccinated drives the transmission rate down. When we get to the point where the countryside is one through vaccinations and natural immunity alone, we reach herd immunity.


If you begin up close to herd immunity, but not quite there, you will be left with a low enough infection rate that the restrictions needed to control the outbreak are less severe.

Wearing masks could result in this, for example, rather than requiring a perilous lockdown.

James Cook University researchers also examined questions about who should have priority in asking for vaccination.

“The best strategy from the start is to vaccinate the older and at-risk groups first,” Professor McBride said.

“From here on, now that the most vulnerable and the elderly have a chance to get vaccinated, the next strategy is to look at the people doing the most transfers.

“These are generally the younger age groups … and of course the exceptional professions where people are in the public domain all the time, like … people who work in supermarkets, bars and those kinds of things.”

When do the closings end?

What exactly Australia looks like in the beforetime stages of opening up has yet to be sure by the national cabinet.

Their suggestion is to first loosen local restrictions on vaccinated residents, use lockdowns only in extreme cases, and start increasing visitor limits, especially for vaccinated travelers.

Later phases will see vaccinated Australians exempt from all domestic restrictions and restrictions on overseas travel for nationals lifted.

Until then, Australia is sticking to the quest to eradicate COVID, which is as firm as it has been proven in the Delta region.

“We’re saying that once you get to 80 percent, you shouldn’t have more intrusive public health restrictions,” Wood said.

“No more closures, no more capacity limits in places, and that’s also the point where you’ll start opening the borders sequentially.”


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