Tough choice for Covid zero countries: open up or be a hermit kingdom
Experts warn of ‘Covid limbo’ for nations like Australia that have self-isolated to stay free of widespread infections
“Covid zero” countries that used strict border controls to keep the coronavirus largely at bay for more than a year risk being stuck in limbo and increasingly isolated unless vaccination rates pick up, public health experts said.
A protective bubble that’s kept Australia’s Covid-19 fatalities to less than 1,000 is unsustainable, Greg Dore, an infectious disease physician and epidemiologist with the University of New South Wales’ Kirby Institute in Sydney, said. The country needs to overcome complacency and ramp up immunisations to reach “disease immunity”, where Sars-CoV-2 no longer poses a major threat, he said during a QuickTake discussion broadcast live on Twitter Thursday.
“Once we get a higher proportion of the adult population vaccinated, we will provide that disease immunity and then we’ll be able to open up,” Dore said. “The virus will come in. There’ll be some cases. There may be some people who get reasonably sort of sick, but the numbers of cases with severe illness and the numbers of deaths will be very small.”..