Serious boost to vaccine rollout figures required to meet government’s ambitious target, former health advisor says

By Melissa Coade

Wednesday May 12, 2021

(Image: Adobe/James Thew)

A former senior advisor to the federal Health & Aged Care Minister says that current COVID-19 vaccination jabs will have to increase five-fold, to 200,000 doses every day, to meet the target canvassed in yesterday’s federal budget.

Troy Bilsborough, government health advisor (2013-17) turned managing director of Provocate (an executive group consultancy agency), says that the big question from business concerning last night’s budget was when the nation was expected to achieve herd immunity.

“The safest bet is for Australia to collectively work towards the highest rate of herd immunity until we don’t.

“Other than the hardest political opponents, most Australian businesses will be willing the government on to turbocharge the vaccination rollout and meet their ambitious target so borders can open.”

With Scott Morrison’s federal budget announcing that the government hoped Australia’s international borders would lift within the next six months, and after a complete vaccine rollout, Bilsborough suggests that is a signal the government wants a buffer on its delivery promises but without throwing out its economic forecasts.

“Until vaccination rates are consistently averaging at least one million per week, we would advise business C-suite continue to expect a vaccine rollout completion closer to 2023 than 2021” Mr Bilsborough said. 

“The increased level of federal spending and debt announced now should also see businesses cautious and realistic about future government spending over the next four years and demonstrating clear win-win-wins to receive it.”

Bilsborough estimates that Australia’s current vaccination rate will need to increase to an extra 50,000 daily jabs, in order for the rollout to ramp up to an average 200,000 vaccines per day, every day, to reach the six month timeline the government signalled.

“That is going to be a monumental task, given we’re currently averaging about 35,000 per day, and business should plan conservatively and cautiously,” he said.

Other key observations by Provocate with respect to COVID-19 vaccinations in this year’s budget include ongoing uncertainty around what percentage of the population will need to be covered by the vaccine in order to reach effective herd immunity. Information coming from effective COVID-19 vaccination programs in countries like the United States confirm that they are aiming for herd immunity closer to 90% compared to original target of between 60-70% herd immunity that is required for the flu.

Even at the predicted lowest rate of herd immunity for COVID19 (70%), Australia would need to quadruple its daily vaccinations to average 142,000 per day to deliver by the federal budget’s predicted target, Mr Bilsborough added.


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