Leaders to discuss vaccination modelling

(Federico Gambarini/dpa via AP)

Australia’s leaders will begin charting a course to fully reopening the nation based on new coronavirus vaccination rate modelling.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison will on Friday chair a national cabinet meeting of state premiers and territory chief ministers.

Leaders will be presented with Doherty Institute modelling which calculates immunisation coverage needed to avoid lockdowns and restart international travel.

Cabinet minister Peter Dutton urged people to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

“If you live in Queensland or in Victoria or elsewhere around country at the moment, look at what’s happening in NSW, it could happen here tomorrow,” he said.

“We’re fortunate in Queensland at the moment but if you think you’ve got time to get vaccinated or you don’t think it’s going to happen, think again, you’ve got to get vaccinated.”

Mr Dutton said none of those hospitalised with coronavirus in NSW had been fully vaccinated, and argued it would be the unvaccinated who suffered once the country opened up.

The prime minister tempered expectations of a concrete outcome like setting a “Freedom Day” similar to the United Kingdom’s widespread dropping of restrictions.

“You don’t just pick a day and, you know, get some fireworks,” he told 3AW.

“That’s not science. It’s not medicine. It’s not policy.”

Mr Morrison said the infectious disease modelling would be considered alongside Treasury’s economic advice to inform the path out of restrictions.

“Now, will we get there in one meeting? No, I don’t think we will. If we do, great,” he said.

“But if we don’t get there in one meeting, we’ll keep meeting until we work out what those rates are.”

He remains confident a vaccination rate will be determined at some stage.

“There’ll be a straight answer on that. But I won’t be making it up, I won’t be pulling it out of the air.”

About 17.7 per cent of people 16 and over have received both doses of a coronavirus vaccine.

Deputy Opposition Leader Richard Marles described the vaccination rate as “pathetically low” and warned the number would need to be much higher before Australia moved past the pandemic.

Labor and key crossbench senator Rex Patrick are demanding the Doherty Institute’s work be fully released.

He considers it essential to improving public confidence.

“There is no justification for withholding the Doherty Institute’s modelling in advance of government decisions on future pandemic strategy,” Senator Patrick said.

Sydney’s COVID-19 crisis continues to deepen with 239 new local cases recorded on Thursday.

The city and surrounding regional areas are facing a lengthy lockdown with heavy restrictions to remain in place until at least the end of next month.

National cabinet will also receive an update on virus data, vaccine rollout and the code for truckies to move around the country.


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