The Bulletin

Australians complacent about COVID-19 despite new wave





Despite increasing case numbers of COVID and the emergence of variants, 
nearly two thirds of Australians are complacent about the risks of infection, a new study shows.

A quantitative research survey conducted by Pfizer Australia showed that compared to a year ago, nearly two thirds (60%) of Australians believe the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic is now over, with a similar number (61%) being less concerned about the impact of COVID-19 in their community. Around half (46%) feel less concerned about their personal risk of serious illness and slightly more than half (57%) think others around them, including family, friends and work colleagues are also less concerned about their personal risk.2

Professor Robert Booy, Infectious Diseases Specialist and Paediatrician, University of Sydney, has warned against complacency during the current wave.  “Protection against COVID-19 infection requires several steps, including ensuring your vaccinations are up to date, practicing COVID safe behaviours and ensuring if you do test positive to COVID, you act fast by talking to your GP to learn if anti-viral medicines are right for you,” he said.

“Recent Federal Government data has shown COVID-19 still poses a very real risk to the health of our communities as we move into a new wave of infections, specifically to those at higher risk of serious illness. The fact that one in three Australians are less likely to test for COVID-19 when they experience symptoms or consult their GP if they test positive compared to a year ago is of concern. Testing earlier means people can seek medical advice sooner and can access anti-viral medicines faster if they are eligible.”

Tanya Hall, Chief Executive Officer and Founder, Hearts4heart, urged Australians to remain vigilant. “This research shows that one in five of those at higher risk, like those over 70, those with health conditions like heart disease, lung disease or diabetes, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are less likely to test or see a GP if they experience COVID-19 symptoms. These people are more likely to suffer serious illness including hospitalisation from COVID-19, so it’s important these groups act fast by speaking to their GP if they test positive,” she said.

Recent Government data for the week ending 15 November 2022 reported 75,590 cases of COVID-19 across Australia, with an average of 10,799 cases per day. This represents a 38.3% increase compared to the previous week. The Actuaries Institute’s COVID-19 Mortality Working Group estimates deaths from COVID-19 in the first ten months of 2022 are approximately 9,800.4 This makes COVID-19 the third leading cause of death in Australia for January – October 2022. It is expected to also be the third leading cause of death across the whole of 2022.

Pfizer Country Medical Director, Dr Krishan Thiru, said: “We continue to experience the impact of COVID-19 on our communities, especially among those at higher risk. These insights show that we need to bring COVID-19 back on the radar of Australians and we want to play our part in helping raise public awareness of the risk COVID-19 still poses, and the role we all can play in helping protect ourselves and those most at risk.”

If Australians at higher risk do experience COVID-19 symptoms or test positive, they should act fast by seeking medical advice from their GP, calling HealthDirect's helpline (1800 022 222) to find out if they are eligible for anti-viral medicines or visit covidantiviral.com.au.

This research was released to coincide with the launch of a public health educational initiative featuring eminent Australians, leading medical experts, patient groups and everyday Australians who have come together to raise awareness of the ongoing impact of COVID-19, the role of antivirals and the need to act fast when people test positive to COVID-19. Together, they are united in their goal to help reduce serious illness, hospitalisations, and deaths from COVID-19.

Learn more at covidantiviral.com.au.

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