Australia catches a third wave

Australia has periodically been mentioned in the world press as having done well in responding to COVID-19. Jennifer Lang and Karen Cutter explore the background behind the response to date, reasons for the success, until recently, in limiting the spread of the virus, and current challenges which have seen a marked deterioration in the situation, in a blog on the COVID-19 Actuaries Response Group.

Until the recent surge in cases, Australia had recorded around 900 COVID-19 deaths, out of a population of 26 million. Excess deaths in 2020 were actually negative, with fewer excess winter deaths than normal. This clearly demonstrates the relative success in containing COVID-19 during the period prior to the global roll-out of vaccines.

When there are very few to no cases in the community, there are opportunities to learn things about the virus which would not be possible in jurisdictions with more virus circulating. Insights are shared from Australia’s experiences of asymptomatic testing and contact tracing.

With a third wave now hitting Australia, Jennifer and Karen discuss what went wrong, and what comes next. For much of the last 18 months, the goal has been zero-COVID. But this cannot be the goal forever when clearly COVID-19 will not be eradicated world-wide. Australia will need to reopen to the rest of the world once sufficient vaccination coverage is achieved. When and how that happens is a work in progress.

This article was originally published by Jennifer Lang and Karen Cutter on the COVID-19 Actuaries Response Group. To read the original article and supporting material, click here.

Minor changes have been applied to this version on Actuaries Digital.

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