Health · June 24, 2022

Covid-19 reinfections are expected to increase due to low vaccination rates

With vaccination rates falling and population fatigue, experts are warning of a new Covid threat in the coming weeks.

New subvariants and reduced vaccine uptake have experts concerned about a new Covid threat.

Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said the rate of reinfections is expected to increase as not enough of the population has received a third booster shot.

He explained that immunity was reduced by the first two vaccinations and previous infection with the virus against some subvariants that are spreading throughout the community.

“We are now seeing subvariants of Omicron – the newest, known as BA-4 and BA-5, which has now become the dominant cultivar in the UK, for example, and grows particularly on the east coast of Australia,” he said.

“We know that this is more transmissible and tends to evade the immune system, so unfortunately we will see reinfections with this in the coming weeks and months.”

Catherine Bennett, an epidemiologist at Deakin University, said that with new variants, the virus acts in ways that have never been seen before.

“We’re seeing what we feared, particularly the coincidence of a worrying flu season after a few years’ hiatus,” she told Sky News.

“With Covid, we’re also seeing the numbers remain high, and that’s partly because Omicron now has the potential to reinfect in a way we’ve never seen before, particularly with these new variants.”

Professor Kelly said people are less concerned about Covid than they were a year ago, in many cases because they would have already had the virus.

With only about 67 per cent of eligible Australians receiving a third dose, the Government is pushing for far greater uptake of boosters, particularly among younger groups.

Protection against symptomatic Covid with the Omicron variant is reduced to just 15 percent six months after a second dose of Pfizer or Moderna, and six months after receiving the Astra Zeneca, according to the Ministry of Health.

Conversely, the effectiveness against symptomatic infections with the Omicron variant increases to about 60 to 75 percent two to four weeks after a booster vaccination with the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.

In addition, a booster dose increases the vaccine’s effectiveness to about 95 percent against major illness in all adults and to over 90 percent against deaths in those over age 50.

“We now know that Omicron is in circulation, that a third dose is really important,” Professor Kelly said.

“Although we’ve seen good uptake from the elderly, I think this is really the time for everyone who is entitled to these doses to roll up their sleeves, as we’ve seen before, and get those doses.”

Originally Posted as Ways Never Seen Before: New Covid Alert circulated as sub-variants throughout the community