House debates

Thursday, 2 September 2021


COVID-19: Vaccination

4:59 pm

Photo of Dave SharmaDave Sharma (Wentworth, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

[by video link] We passed some important milestones in our vaccination journey over the last 24 hours. Across Australia, we've now exceeded 20 million doses of the vaccine delivered—in fact, 20,028,084 vaccine doses delivered as at the end of yesterday, 1 September. That includes a record 330,856 vaccine doses in the last 24 hours. What this means is that we've now got 12½ million Australians who have had at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and that means that 60 per cent, in total, of eligible Australians, or those over 16, have now received at least their first dose. And, on top of that we've got 7½ million Australians who are fully vaccinated—that is, they have received two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. That is 36 per cent of eligible Australians, myself being one of them, and I expect many others of us as well.

In my own state of New South Wales the figures are also very promising and positive. We just passed, in New South Wales, seven million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine delivered, including one million doses just over the last eight days. In New South Wales, 70 per cent of eligible adults—that's those over 16—have had at least one dose, and 39 per cent are now fully vaccinated. Even in my own seat of Wentworth we are going quite well. In the Woollahra local government area, which is fully encapsulated within Wentworth, we've got 51 per cent of people fully vaccinated and 73 per cent of eligible adults who have had at least one dose. In the Waverley local government area, 42 per cent are fully vaccinated and 64 per cent have had at least their first dose. In the Randwick local government area, 36 per cent are fully vaccinated and 60 per cent have had at least their first dose. In the City of Sydney local government area, 32 per cent are fully vaccinated and 53 per cent have had at least their first dose.

Just as we used to obsess over and focus on the case numbers each day, now we need to start obsessing over and focusing on our vaccination rates. Why is that? Well, it's because elimination of the virus, at least the delta strain of the virus—with the tools we've got, with the lives we're used to living, and with the freedoms and liberties that frankly make life worth living—is simply no longer possible. I think international experience has demonstrated that. If we look across the Tasman Sea towards New Zealand, which has had a good record in managing COVID-19, we see that New Zealand has now been in lockdown since 17 August. One active case has become 700 active cases; a three-day lockdown has become a three-week lockdown. In New Zealand, just today, there were 49 new cases.

Victoria, the state to my south, is now in its 28th day of its sixth lockdown, a lockdown that many have said is more ferocious and that some have argued is more effective than that underway here in Sydney. Well, in Victoria they had 176 new cases overnight. They've got 1,029 active cases. And, in fact, the cumulative number of cases in Victoria at this stage of their outbreak, on the 29th day, is higher than the number was at the commensurate stage of the New South Wales outbreak. This isn't to be triumphal; this is to simply to say that what may have worked with the original variant of the coronavirus, what may have worked with the alpha variant, has shown itself not to be working with the delta variant.

Elimination of the delta strain of the virus is clearly no longer possible, even with a ferocious lockdown; even with the costs to business and to people's jobs and livelihoods; even with the impact on children's schooling and education, severe as it is; even with the huge and the still untold mental health impacts that are the devastating consequence of prolonged lockdowns; even with the social isolation, the cancellation of weddings, those unable to properly say goodbye to dying loved ones; even with the deferral of the HSC and the cancellation of graduations. Even with all of those things, we've seen that the elimination of the delta strain of the virus is no longer possible. But, if it's not possible, what widespread vaccination has shown us is that it's also no longer necessary, and that is the encouraging thing to focus on here.

Two case studies here: Israel and the United Kingdom, both with adult vaccination rates north of 75 per cent. In Israel, we've seen a high number of cases still, with 85.8 cases per 100,000 people over seven days on average, but a mortality rate of only 0.28 per cent. In the United Kingdom, we've seen about 50 cases per 100,000 people over a one-week average, but a mortality rate of only 0.29 per cent. And, even in New South Wales, with this current outbreak and a lower vaccination rate, we're seeing a mortality that is one-tenth of the rate in the Victorian second wave outbreak last year.

The message here is: please, get vaccinated. Let's hit the Doherty institute targets. Let's open up again. (Time expired)