Experts have warned Australia could be at risk of millions of Covid cases as a fresh wave hits the country and new vaccines are rolled out.
Australia is experiencing its eighth wave of Covid infections, with Omicron subvariants EG.5 (Eris) and BA.2.86 (Pirola) circulating around the country.
The World Health Organisation says it is ‘monitoring’ Pirola but has classified Eris as a variant of interest given its prevalence.
Infectious diseases physician Professor Peter Collignon said the current wave will soon peak.
Experts have warned Australia could see millions of new Covid as fresh strains circulate around the country (stock image pictured)
‘This wave has been going on for weeks already and they usually peak at about six weeks,’ he told Daily Mail Australia.
‘We will likely see cases returning to the amounts seen in October by mid December.’
He said cases should start to wind down by Christmas, which is good news for Aussies as the festive season approaches.
While being cautious about predicting how many could fall ill with the current wave, Professor Collignon said that ’10- 15 per cent’ of the population could be affected.
That means the country could see about 3.85million cases in the coming months.
‘If we see two to three waves per year, that means 20-30 per cent of the population might get sick, which is a lot more than those who get the flu or a common cold,’ he said.
Professor Collignon said the end of spring was a typical time to see a lot of cases.
He also said cases could surge in January as people visiting Europe and the US in the depths of the northern winter bring back the virus.
Professor Peter Collignon said the country could see about 3.85million cases in the coming months (stock image pictured)
Professor Brendan Crabb, CEO of the Burnet Institute, told the ABC it was likely that a few hundred thousand Australians currently have the virus.
He also said it was possible that three to five million Aussies will be struck with the virus over the next few months.
Professor Crabb acknowledged Covid is no longer an ’emergency’, but has warned people to still be cautious.
‘If we don’t have a deliberate effort as a world to reduce the amount of transmission, it’s hard to see an end to this continual problem,’ he said.
‘It would be fantastic if the [new] vaccine was in people’s arms before they encounter the virus.’
Professor Collignon urged people to take precautions over the coming months by staying clear of crowded indoor places and continuing to wear masks indoors.
‘People should consider outdoor settings when entertaining,’ he said.
The Federal Government on Monday announced updated Covid vaccines will be available from December 11.
The federal government on Monday announced updated Covid vaccines will be available from December 11 (stock image pictured)
The new vaccines were approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) in October but ATAGI also needs to assess them and provide advice to the Minister for Health, Mark Butler, about their use.
On Monday evening, Mr Butler accepted ATAGI’s advice and announced the December rollout.
‘These new vaccines will help protect Australians against current strains of COVID-19 and demonstrate the government’s ongoing commitment to provide access to the latest and most effective vaccines,’ he said.
There is no change to the current vaccine eligibility recommendations by ATAGI, which can be checked online.