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Australia: COVID-19 Success Story Faces a Major Setback

Australia is known to be one of the countries in the world that had succeeded in quashing the number of COVID-19 cases. At one point, this country even reached zero new cases in the community. The Australians seemed to live in an impenetrable fortress while the rest of the world is in a war against the unrelenting rising numbers of cases. Yet, nothing ever lasts. Even the strongest has its moment of weakness. The past few weeks have proven so. Ever since the Delta variant invaded Australia, this country has been struggling to keep the new cases under control. Now, Australia is facing the worst outbreak yet ever since the pandemic began. Many people wonder, what caused this country to lose its grip? Let’s dive in.

Vaccination Hesitancy Turns into a Big Problem

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For the country that is claimed to be one of the safest during this global pandemic, Australia failed to make its citizens see the importance of vaccination. Prior to the Delta variant, Prime Minister Scott Morrison even declared that the vaccine rollout was “not a race.” At the time, the government did not see vaccination as a pressing matter. After all, cases had remained at zero for months.

Before being distributed to the citizens, Australian health experts wanted to look further into which vaccine is the safest and most effective; AstraZeneca or Pfizer. The heated debate started, claiming the AstraZeneca vaccine can cause blood clots and is ineffective compared to Pfizer. The news spread quickly to the public. This information, intensified by the post-vaccination death reports that made the front-page news, makes citizens scared and hesitant to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine, even when it has been approved by the country’s chief regulatory body. The citizens prefer not being vaccinated rather than taking AstraZeneca. They wanted to wait for Pfizer.

Hesitancy to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine is believed to be the country’s downfall to curb the Delta outbreak. Australia’s government had allowed hesitancy to turn into reluctance. Because of this, Australia was left with a massively unvaccinated population, putting the whole country in a vulnerable position.

The first case of the Delta strain in Australia was found in an unvaccinated 60-year-old limousine driver. Unvaccinated being the keyword here. With how low the number of people who have been vaccinated in this country, the Delta strain easily exploits this vulnerability. Now, the Delta strain cases keep rising and it is getting out of hand. Whoever thought? Started with hesitancy and reluctance, a tragedy befalls upon what used to be a safe haven.

3 Concerning Facts about the Delta Strain

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During the most recent outbreak, the main virus found in the infected people are the Delta strain. In order to overcome this outbreak, the first thing we need to do is to know what we are facing. With the knowledge about this new variant, we will know what to do. Here are three facts about the Delta strain that everybody must be aware of, according to Centres for Disease Control and Prevention:

• “The Delta variant is highly contagious, more than 2x as contagious as previous variants.”

• “Data shows the Delta variant might cause more severe illness than previous variants in unvaccinated people.”

• “The greatest risk of transmission is among unvaccinated people who are much more likely to get infected, and therefore transmit the virus.”

Now that we know a little bit more about this highly infectious strain, it can be inferred that the best protection against this virus is still vaccination, regardless of which vaccine we receive.

Australia’s Attempt to Put the Outbreak Under Control

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Australia had the chance to have their eligible citizens get their doses of vaccine before the Delta outbreak hits. Unfortunately, Australia let this chance slipped through their fingers and now they have to live with the consequences. As a way of redemption, the government puts the whole country into strict lockdown while they are trying to speed up the vaccination process and have as many Australians to be vaccinated as fast as possible. The renewed urgency also gradually eradicates the citizens’ hesitancy on the AstraZeneca vaccine.

According to an article on the CNN website, “Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews says, ‘Restrictions will only ease when 70% of eligible residents receive their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine. What we must do is suppress case numbers sufficiently to buy us time to get people vaccinated.’” In order to do that, safety protocols need to be applied at full force. With the rising numbers of people vaccinated, strict lockdowns and safety measures in place, Australia will hopefully get back on its feet again soon.

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