When WILL Australia reopen? Nobel laureate predicts when lockdowns and travel bans will be lifted before criticizing lengthy border closures: ‘We won’t close because of flu’
- Immunologist Peter Doherty predicts politicians won’t want to reopen Australia
- Professor Doherty said Australians were conditioned to the idea of zero Covid
- He supported existing lockdowns with low-vaccination Australia
- But he suggested longer-term restrictions such as closing ‘because of the flu’
Nobel laureate Peter Doherty predicts politicians will be reluctant to reopen Australia next year, even if vaccination rates rise and people stop dying from Covid.
The immunologist, 80, known for discovering the role of T cells in the immune system, said Australians living through lockdowns had been conditioned to the zero-Covid strategy.
“Next year we will have a more normal life I expect, but it will be politically difficult for the politicians to open up because there will be diseases circulating and we are so used to the idea that no virus should circulate,” Professor Doherty told it. ABC’s 7.30 program.
Nobel laureate Peter Doherty predicts politicians will be reluctant to reopen Australia next year, even if vaccination rates rise and people stop dying from Covid or getting sick
The former Australian of the Year suggested there would never be an end to the lockdown, once Australia had high vaccination rates preventing death and serious illness would be an overreaction.
“We are not closing the country because of the flu,” he said.
Professor Doherty made the observations as New South Wales Prime Minister Gladys Berejiklian prepared to announce that Sydney’s lockdowns, which began on June 26, would be extended for at least another four weeks.
He supports the existing lockdown strategy, with just 16.7 percent of Australians over 16 fully vaccinated against Covid, as of July 26.
The outbreak of the more contagious Indian Delta tribe has killed 11 people in NSW so far, including 38-year-old Brazilian woman Adriana Midori Takara, who died in Sydney on Sunday.
“We’ve shut the country down with this because people are dying or getting very sick or getting that awful, awful long Covid that is debilitating so many people,” said Professor Doherty.
“So I hope we’ll be back to normal next year.”
The federal government closed Australia to non-residents and non-citizens at the start of the pandemic in March 2020.
The immunologist, 80, known for discovering the role of T cells in the immune system, said Australians living through lockdowns had been conditioned to the zero-Covid strategy (pictured is a woman walking in Sydney’s Centennial Park during lockdown) )
Australia’s 919 Covid death rate is also low by world standards.
The May Budget papers predicted that Australia would remain closed to foreigners until mid-2022, making life difficult for more than a third of Australians who had both parents born abroad.
About 49 percent of Sydney residents have both parents born abroad and haven’t seen them for at least 18 months.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration is considering approving more antivirals to treat Covid, a year after Remdesivir gave the green light to treat people hospitalized.
The former Australian of the Year suggested there would never be an end to the lockdown, once Australia had high vaccination rates preventing death and serious illness would be an overreaction (pictured is a sign in Lane Cove National Park in Chatswood West on the Lower North Shore of Sydney)
In the United States, doctors have used dexamethasone and other corticosteroids such as prednisone to treat patients who have had a hyperimmune response to the virus.
Once a significant proportion of Australians were vaccinated, Professor Doherty suggested that antiviral drugs would be a better response to Covid in the longer term than constant lockdowns.
“Once we vaccinate a large number of people, and hopefully we may even be able to find antiviral drugs,” he said.
“There are drugs coming up that can be used to treat people who are very sick or very vulnerable if they get infected, so they’re coming too.
“So I hope we think about ordering them.”