Travelers entering Australia from areas with high Covid-19 levels like the UK may need to be quarantined by mid-2022, a leading disease expert has predicted.
Australian National University professor Peter Collignon said "some form" of quarantine may be required even after the Australian population has been vaccinated.
This is because the vaccines are 70 to 90 percent effective, meaning millions of Aussies are still at risk of contracting the deadly disease.
A family arrives at the domestic terminal at Brisbane Airport on December 20th
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said he wants to open Australia to "green" countries where virus levels are low – but so far only New Zealand has qualified.
If quarantine is maintained on high risk arrivals like the UK, they will be less attractive to Australian tourists who may be vacationing elsewhere.
Professor Collignon said it was not safe for Australia to simply remove quarantine requirements once the vaccine is rolled out globally.
"If you look at people coming to Australia, it is a percent or two percent of returning travelers who have the virus when they land," he told Daily Mail Australia.
“And if you have a vaccine that's 90 percent effective, that means instead of one or two in 100 we have one or two in a thousand – but that's still a very high risk of a virus. That's as much as Melbourne was exposed at the height of the winter outbreak.
"Until the numbers get really low around the world – and on the basis that we really want to keep the numbers down in Australia – I can't see how we won't be quarantined at home or in a hotel for a couple of weeks after you come back. & # 39;
Australian National University professor Peter Collignon said "some form" of quarantine may be required even after the Australian population has been vaccinated. In the picture: Returned travelers at the Hotel Quaranatine
A total of 6,286 people have tested positive in hotel quarantine since March. Levels have been rising since December as the northern hemisphere has increased cases in part due to a highly infectious mutant strain that formed in the UK in September.
The strain has burdened the UK with around 50,000 infections a day, prompting Boris Johnson's government to launch two emergency-approved vaccines.
When asked when it would be safe to reintroduce quarantine-free travel from the UK and other high-risk countries, Professor Collignon said, "My best guess is by the middle of next year."
But he added, “I'm going to be very careful in making predictions until I see what happens next winter in the northern hemisphere because it's getting out of hand this winter.
"If we see very few cases in the northern hemisphere next winter, I will feel relieved."
Professor Collignon also said social distancing rules will be required even after the vaccine.
"Too many people think," the vaccine will be introduced and life will go back to normal. “I don't think that's realistic because we rightly want to limit the spread of the virus,” he said.
Passengers wearing face masks and face shields who recently landed from overseas go to a hotel quarantine bus at Sydney International Airport on Jan. 8
Outbound travel is banned until at least March 17 this year, and the ban is expected to be extended.
Transport Secretary Michael McCormack said last month: "International borders will open when international arrivals do not pose a risk to Australians."
The government's vaccine paper states that proof of vaccination may be required to leave or enter the country.
In October's budget papers, the government said that inbound and outbound international travel is "expected to remain low through the end of 2021, after which a gradual recovery in international tourism is assumed".
Mr Morrison previously pointed out the possibility that people entering from lower risk countries may be able to isolate at home rather than in hotels.
"Home quarantine may play a role in the future," he said in September.
Everything you need to know about Australia's Covid-19 vaccination schedule when the bumps hit the arms for the first time in February and quarantine workers were first injected
The Australians will be vaccinated against Covid-19 in mid-February, Scott Morrison said on Thursday.
The Prime Minister expects regulators to approve Pfizer's vaccine, which has already been launched worldwide, before the end of January.
Regulators are on track to approve AstraZeneca's vaccine shortly afterwards, which means two different shocks will be available to the nation.
Each person is given two shots of the same vaccine about a month apart. Here Daily Mail answers some important questions about the vaccination program.
Who will be vaccinated first?
The vaccines are introduced in five steps. Quarantine and border workers, frontline health workers, and geriatric care workers and residents will come first.
Next comes everyone over 70, other healthcare workers, people with medical conditions, rescue workers, some high risk workers such as meat processors, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders over 55.
After that, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders ages 18 to 54 as well as Australians over 50 and other high-risk workers will get the sting.
The vaccine is introduced in five steps. Quarantine and border workers, frontline health workers, and geriatric care workers and residents will come first
The fourth phase will include all adults, and then a final phase will be for children – but only if experts say children need the push at all.
Health Secretary Professor Brendan Murphy explained why children are last: "We know that children are at very little risk of getting and transmitting Covid, and the vaccine has not yet been thoroughly tested against children."
Mr Morrison is aiming for 80,000 vaccinations per week in February and wants that number to grow rapidly and give four million shocks by the end of March.
Where are the vaccines given?
The vaccines will be distributed to each state based on the number of priority people who need the vaccine, regardless of the number of infections.
Initially, between 30 and 50 hospitals will be used as hubs for the distribution of the Pfizer vaccine.
Then general clinics, existing Commonwealth GP respiratory clinics, and other state vaccination clinics will be used.
Each one only gives out one type of vaccine so patients aren't confused about which sting they had.
A nurse will be vaccinated with the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine on Thursday January 6th in Paris, France
The Pfizer puff is much more difficult to dispense as it must be stored at -70 ° C in order for the AstraZeneca puff to be sent to distant populations.
Initially, imported cans will be used before Australia starts manufacturing its own bottles with the AstraZeneca engraving at the CSL plant in Melbourne.
Why is it taking so long for Australia to get a vaccine?
Countries around the world, including the US and UK, have already introduced the vaccine with emergency approval.
But the Prime Minister said Australia doesn't need to do this because the number of infections is much lower here.
The government has to wait for full therapeutic goods administration approval, which is expected for the Pfizer shock later this month.
The American company has a global policy to ship the vaccine two weeks after approval, said Morrison.
Mask up: Commuters wearing face masks will leave St. James Station in Sydney CBD on Monday 4th January
The bumps will land in Australia in early to mid-February, and then another week will be spent testing the batch.
Mr Morrison said the TGA was working overtime to approve the vaccines but not cutting corners.
"There has been no delay in this process … it is much faster than the normal vaccination approval process in Australia, but without skipping a step or cutting a corner," he said.
Will it be mandatory?
The government has repeatedly insisted that a Covid-19 vaccine is voluntary.
But on Thursday, Mr Morrison admitted that states, not the federal government, have the power to require people to be vaccinated.
Mr Morrison pointed out the possibility that certain types of people might be required by law to get the bump.
He said the discussions in the National Cabinet "will include the need for state and territory governments to harmonize and ensure national health regimes and ensure national coherence. This is the process through which any requirement to have the vaccine goes into." all of Australia is legalized. "
Sydney Cricket Ground fans wore full body armor on Thursday
Pressed further by journalists, the prime minister refused to say whether a legal vaccination order would apply to quarantine workers or geriatric carers.
"All I said today is that there needs to be a discussion and that is why we are going to have this discussion," he said.
"This is an important public health discussion that needs to be had with states and territories."
When can social distancing stop?
The Prime Minister said Covid's safe practices will continue with the vaccine throughout 2021.
"Vaccination is not a silver bullet … Covid safety practices don't end, they go on," he said.
& # 39; Covid safe practices will be a lived experience by 2021. It will still be a fight through 2021, but this will be another very significant defense and insult I should have in fighting the virus around the world. & # 39;
When do politicians get the vaccine?
The prime minister said he and Health Secretary Greg Hunt would watch the vaccine on TV early to increase public confidence.
“It's important to the public's confidence in leadership positions across the country, and I'll make myself available for that. I haven't had a discussion with the premieres, but I'm sure they would too, ”he said.
However, most federal cabinet members and other politicians will have to wait, in line with the rest of the public.