Australia tracking for major jab milestone

Australia is forecast to reach 80 per cent double-dose coronavirus vaccination coverage in mid-November when home tests are expected to be in use.

Vaccine rollout co-ordinator John Frewen has revealed the latest government projections for people aged 16 and over.

By the end of October, 70 per cent of that group should have received both doses with the 80 per cent target likely in mid-November.

Lieutenant General Frewen said reaching high levels of coverage would now depend on people coming forward but 90 per cent would be possible in late November or early December.

Almost 77 per cent of over-16s have now received at least a single shot, while 52.6 per cent are fully vaccinated.

Rapid antigen tests are expected to be used in homes from November 1.

While no company has a kit ready for the Australian market, Therapeutic Goods Administration boss John Skerritt is confident hurdles will be cleared over the next month.

All tests granted approval for home use need to be effective for the Delta variant.

Instructions must be suitable for about a year-seven level of reading or people for whom English is a second language.

Packaging must include a 1800 number to ring for advice on results or other issues with rapid antigen tests.

“We are still confident, because we’ve been holding hands with some of the most advanced companies for a few weeks, that by November 1 there will be products available,” Professor Skerritt told a Senate hearing.

Home rapid antigen tests, which can return results in 20 minutes, have been used overseas for months.

But Australian authorities have been cautious in expanding use beyond selected workplaces because of concerns around accuracy compared to nose and throat swabs.

Victoria recorded 867 new cases and four deaths on Tuesday, while NSW reported 863 infections and seven fatalities.

Hospitality and entertainment businesses along with airlines are expected to continue banning unvaccinated people in NSW after restrictions lift at the start of December.

There were 13 new infections in the ACT where Chief Minister Andrew Barr expects travel between NSW and Victoria to resume from December.

Two coronavirus clusters have been found in Brisbane ahead of Sunday’s NRL grand final.

A truck driver who was one of four locally acquired cases reported on Tuesday was infectious in the community for more than a week.


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