Sydney, Oct 10: Covid cases in children have grown triple the rate of adults, requiring a defence from governments to avoid the lack of vaccine protection in kids causing a ‘poll-driven’ premature return to lockdowns the next few months.
Provacate managing director C-suite strategy consultants Provocate Troy Bilsborough said there were also no firm answers about whether vaccinated parents with a vaccine passport could shop, travel or work with unvaccinated children.
News that Pfizer planned to lodge a vaccine option for approval for 5-11 year-olds was welcomed, he said, but pointed to reports it would not cover all children or be rolled out until Dec to Jan after domestic and borders opened – as proof of the risk of public and political backlash over Covid in kids.
Bilsborough said the looming Federal poll increased the risk of “electionomics, not epidemiologists or economists,” ultimately deciding whether Australia reopened before Christmas – and stayed that way.
“New South Wales is undoubtedly going to be the litmus test for whether the public and politicians can live with the consequences of living with Covid, particularly while kids remain unprotected” Bilsborough said.
“The medical advice is only as good as the public confidence in it and there’s been little effort to explain why a parent who catches Covid must get vaccinated or end up in the ICU, but unvaccinated children won’t.
“It requires Australia to adopt the equivalent of a chicken-pox defence – better to catch it young than old – or risk any public backlash leading to a political backflip on lifting restrictions ahead of the Federal election.”
Provocate’s latest VaxEnomicTM Forecaster shows cases in children under 10 have consistently grown the fastest of any group since National Cabinet announced in late June that reopening targets would only require 70 percent and 80 per cent of adults to be fully vaccinated, including:
· AUS: 746 per cent increase in child cases under 10 to 14,384 – triple the rate of adults (293 per cent). The percentage of child cases as a proportion of total cases also increased from 5.6 per cent to 12.0 per cent.
· NSW: 2051 per cent increase in child cases under 10 to 6,387 – triple the rate of adults (673 per cent). The percentage of child cases as a proportion of total cases also increased from 5.6 per cent to 12 per cent.
· VIC: 247 per cent increase in child cases under 10 to 4,360 – more-than double the rate of adults (101 per cent). The percentage of child cases as a proportion of total cases also increased from 3.3 per cent to 5.8 per cent.
· QLD: 116 per cent increase in child cases under 10 to 119 – eight times the rate of adults (15 percent). The percentage of child cases as a proportion of total cases also increased from 3.3 per cent to 5.8 per cent.
While there have been no deaths of children under 10 from Covid to date, hospitalisations of children under 10 in NSW have increased to 318 since the Delta variant hit the state in June, compared to just six 18 months prior. That’s seen children rise from one per cent to five per cent of all hospitalisations in NSW the past three months.
There are currently about four million children aged under 12 in Australia currently ineligible for a Covid vaccination – with approved vaccine options unlikely to be approved and administered fully until 2022.
While Australia has hit 80 per cent of adults (16+) with a first dose, this only equals 56 per cent and 64 per cent of the Australian population respectively, raising questions whether children will be protected by the herd.
Bilsborough said governments also risked becoming “victims of their own success”, with expected slowing of Covid cases in adults as vaccination rates grow set to further highlight the lack of vaccination in children.
“Look at the outrage of Australians over governments being too slow to address growing numbers of Covid cases in aged care residents – it’s naïve to think that the same risk of public backlash and political backflips isn’t there with kids, who are yet to return to school.
“Our advice is that the growth of Covid cases in unvaccinated children is the most-overlooked danger to Australia’s economic recovery, as well as business and voter confidence over the next few months.”
Pfizer is currently seeking approval in the US for use of its vaccine in 5-11 year-olds.
Even if lodged in Australia before approved elsewhere, it would unlikely to be approved, available and administered in full until the end of 2021, given the 3-6 week wait between doses, and further 14 days for maximum immunity to be achieved.
Initial reports indicate Pfizer will also seek to lodge its applications sequentially in the order of 5-11 year-olds, 2-4 year-olds and then 0-2 year-olds.
The latter two have been earmarked for submission for approval in the US late 2021, meaning full vaccination coverage for all ages of children likely won’t be fully approved, available and administered in Australia until next year.
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