Covid Australia: virus ‘triple wave’ threat this winter, vaccination rate plummets

A health expert has warned of a potential ‘triple wave’ of infections as Covid infections are expected to increase over the winter, now standing at nearly 5,000 new cases a day.

University of Sydney infectious disease specialist Robert Bui said declining vaccination rates, as well as lowered vigilance, could lead to a three-pronged surge in “influenza, Covid and other viruses affecting our communities.”

“Winter brings with it colder months and more time spent indoors, which increases the chance of the spread of respiratory infections such as the flu and Covid-19,” Prof Bui said.

“This study shows that four out of five of us know someone who is at higher risk of becoming seriously ill with Covid-19.”

The warning comes as death and hospitalization rates from the virus start to rise, and a new study shows Australians are less likely to bother testing if they have Covid symptoms than they were a year ago.

A study by pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Australia found that 74 percent of Australians surveyed said they would view Covid-19 as a seasonal flu in a year.

Compared to last year, 36 per cent of Australians also said they are less likely to be tested for Covid-19 even if they have symptoms.

Even people at higher risk of severe illness were less likely to get tested (23%) or see a GP if they had Covid symptoms (25%).

Booster speed drops

Booster rates for the Covid vaccine have also been reduced.

Compared to May 9, Covid booster doses have dropped from a seven-day average of 35,161 to 22,717 on June 7, a drop of 12,444.

Additional national health data released this week showed that 16.6 million Australians have not been vaccinated against Covid-19.

The head of the Melbourne University School of Health Sciences, Bruce Thompson, advised people to get an annual or biennial booster as if they were getting a flu shot.

“We need a flu shot every year, if we need a Covid shot every year or twice a year, that’s what it is,” he said.

“Take a little more personal responsibility and awareness to not get Covid and pass it on to anyone.

“Despite the fact that we live near it, if you have Covid, stay at home. The same thing happens if you have a terrible cold.”

An epidemiologist has warned that 2,600 Australians have died from Covid this year and those numbers are “significant”.

“We only have six months of the year and we have had over 2,600 deaths from Covid – it’s scary,” he said.

“We could potentially have over 5,500 Covid deaths. That’s four to five times more than the flu.”

Over 4700 new cases per day

More than three years since the start of the pandemic, national Covid infections still reflect daily averages of over 4,700 or 32.9991 new cases in the week ending June 6.

Although this was a 14.6% decrease from the previous week, cases increased slightly in Queensland and the ACT while remaining stable in New South Wales.

The state reported 11,719 new Covid cases in the week to 4 p.m. Thursday, according to NSW Health. However, this week the death rate increased from 64 to 81.

Health Minister Ryan Park urged residents to get their vaccinations up to date.

“As we enter the winter months, keeping up with recommended vaccinations is the best way to protect you, your family and the community from serious illness,” he said.

Victoria reported 6,135 new cases in the seven days to Thursday, with 64 deaths. While the number of deaths increased from 50 a week earlier, the number of new infections decreased from 8,669 cases last week.

In the seven days to 4 p.m. Thursday, Western Australia reported 3,014 cases.

WA Health also reported seven deaths, one of which occurred on April 24.

New cases in Queensland rose marginally by 0.6 percent to 5474 from 5439 a week earlier. There were also 14 new deaths during this period.

South Australia also reported 2,593 cases in addition to 24 new deaths, both figures reflecting a decline from last week, when there were 3,728 new cases and 36 deaths.

The Northern Territory reported 136 new infections in the week to Thursday. While transmission is down from 178 a week earlier, 14 people are in hospital – up from nine patients last week.

Tasmania also reported 1,241 new cases and four deaths, while 811 new cases were identified in the ACT, in addition to five new deaths.

Originally published as Expert warns of Covid ‘triple wave’ this winter as growth rates plummet