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Top professor reveals Covid will be with us forever, but says worst of Omicron wave is over

A leading infectious disease expert has predicted that Covid will haunt Australians for years, but says the worst is behind us with the virus soon to be treated as the flu.

Professor Peter Collignon, from ANU Medical School, told 3AW that Australia is “in a much better position than it was a year ago.”

The professor said that due to the efficacy of Covid vaccines, fewer people died or were hospitalized with the Omicron variant despite high infection rates.

‘Are we out of the woods? No, we are not. Is this all going to go away, no it isn’t, but the consequences for individuals and for society are a lot less than a year ago,” he said.

Top professor reveals Covid will be with us forever but

Professor Peter Collignon, from ANU Medical School, told 3AW radio host Neil Mitchell that Australia is “in a much better position than it was a year ago” (pictured, people in Sydney)

The professor said that due to the efficacy of Covid vaccines, fewer people died or were hospitalized despite high infection rates (pictured, a pop-up Covid clinic in northern Melbourne)

The professor said that due to the efficacy of Covid vaccines, fewer people died or were hospitalized despite high infection rates (pictured, a pop-up Covid clinic in northern Melbourne)

The professor said that due to the efficacy of Covid vaccines, fewer people died or were hospitalized despite high infection rates (pictured, a pop-up Covid clinic in northern Melbourne)

He said it was “much, much less likely” that people would get sick and die from Covid than a year ago due to high vaccine uptake and a stronger immune system.

“We’ve reduced our chance of dying by a factor of 20 and hospitalization by at least a factor of 10, but it’s not zero, so this problem isn’t going away,” he said.

The professor predicted that, as with any other respiratory virus, winter cases would increase during the months of June, July and August.

“Maybe we have to live with more restrictions in the winter than in the summer,” he said.

“I don’t think it will be as bad as the Omicron wave we just saw, but I’ll be surprised if we don’t see an uptick in cases and hospitalizations.

“I hope it’s not worse than a bad flu season.”

The professor said the vast majority of the vulnerable — particularly those over 60 — would have had three doses of the vaccine by then.

1643236332 455 Top professor reveals Covid will be with us forever but

1643236332 455 Top professor reveals Covid will be with us forever but

“Maybe we have to live with more restrictions in winter than in summer,” said Professor Collignon (pictured) as things flared up in June, July and August

Prof. dr.  Collignon added that the number of cases would also increase as students returned to classrooms, caused by more people gathering and higher test rates (photo, people at Bondi)

Prof. dr.  Collignon added that the number of cases would also increase as students returned to classrooms, caused by more people gathering and higher test rates (photo, people at Bondi)

Prof. dr. Collignon added that the number of cases would also increase as students returned to classrooms, caused by more people gathering and higher test rates (photo, people at Bondi)

Prof. dr. Collignon added that the number of cases would also increase as students returned to classrooms, caused by more people gathering and higher testing rates.

He said those infected with Omicron will likely have a “wider range” of immunity to new variants reaching Australian shores in the future.

Host Neil Mitchell asked the professor if the dark days were over and if the country could return to high infection levels and deaths with new strains.

Prof. dr. Collignon said that once you have a high level of vaccination and natural infection, the worst is over, but new variants would remain a challenge.

He said that although it was very unlikely that a ‘deadly’ strain of the virus could arrive that could not be protected against with vaccination.

“It’s in the interest of the virus to transfer a lot more, but not actually kill as many people, because it means it can linger longer,” he said.

The professor said the Covid vaccine performed much better than a flu vaccine, which offers 30 percent protection against hospitalization.

Prof. dr.  Collignon said governments should 'move away' from hopes of completely eradicating the virus and lead as normal a life as possible (photo, beachgoers at Bondi)

Prof. dr.  Collignon said governments should 'move away' from hopes of completely eradicating the virus and lead as normal a life as possible (photo, beachgoers at Bondi)

Prof. dr. Collignon said governments should ‘move away’ from hopes of completely eradicating the virus and lead as normal a life as possible (photo, beachgoers at Bondi)

NSW is expected to hit its millionth case of the pandemic, two years after the first cases were registered in Australia (pictured, people are being tested for Covid at a Sydney facility)

NSW is expected to hit its millionth case of the pandemic, two years after the first cases were registered in Australia (pictured, people are being tested for Covid at a Sydney facility)

NSW is expected to hit its millionth case of the pandemic, two years after the first cases were registered in Australia (pictured, people are being tested for Covid at a Sydney facility)

Covid vaccines have 90 percent protection against hospitalization and can protect against multiple strains for up to six months after the first dose, he said.

Prof. dr. Collignon said there was no need for people to “get depressed” about the virus being with us for years to come, as the worst was behind us.

He said governments should “move away” from hopes of completely eradicating the virus and lead as normal a life as possible.

The professor pointed to the one or two million adults who had not yet been vaccinated — about five to ten percent of the population, depending on the state.

“Their chance of death is still significant if they are not vaccinated,” he said.

The professor’s predictions come as NSW is expected to hit its millionth case of the pandemic, two years after the first cases were registered in Australia.

Prime Minister Perrottet (pictured) announced that restrictions on the use of masks would be reintroduced, hospitality density limits and the ban on singing and dancing would be extended until the end of February

Prime Minister Perrottet (pictured) announced that restrictions on the use of masks would be reintroduced, hospitality density limits and the ban on singing and dancing would be extended until the end of February

Prime Minister Perrottet (pictured) announced that restrictions on the use of masks would be reintroduced, hospitality density limits and the ban on singing and dancing would be extended until the end of February

Half of those cases have been added in the past two weeks and more than 90 percent in the last two months of the savage spread of the Omicron wave after returning international travelers unknowingly brought the variant into the country.

On Tuesday, Mr Perrottet announced that restrictions on the use of masks, hospitality density limits and the ban on singing and dancing, which expires on Thursday, will be extended until the end of February in an effort to quell the spread of Omicron when children return to the classrooms. .

Mr Perrottet said extending restrictions until February 28 was “the right approach” as it would quell the spread of Omicron before movements pick up once schools return next week.

NSW reported 21,030 new cases of Covid-19 and 29 deaths on Wednesday – although the number of patients with severe symptoms in ICU has fallen from 183 to 175.

There seems to be a similar trend further south, with Victoria’s Covid ICU numbers dropping from 119 to 113 as the state reported 13,507 cases and 35 deaths.

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