Experts call time on Western Australia’s strict vaccine mandate

Experts call time on Western Australia’s strict vaccine mandate. By Sarah Brookes.

A growing chorus of health experts claim there is little public health justification for excluding unvaccinated people from venues in Western Australia.

Deakin University epidemiologist Catherine Bennett said jab mandates were initially introduced to allow venues in the eastern states to reopen when vaccination rates were low, but to leave them in place at 95 per cent double-dosed and with Omicron as the new dominant strain had little benefit.

Professor Bennett said emerging evidence suggested a double dose of a COVID-19 vaccine provided little protection against the highly infectious Omicron variant.

UK data showed current COVID-19 vaccines were relatively poor at preventing transmission and put the effectiveness of two doses against symptomatic Omicron at zero to 10 per cent at six months, she said. …

“Omicron is an immune-escape variant, and the primary course of vaccine — the first two doses which is all you need to get into a cafe — gives little protection from symptomatic infection unlike with other variants.

“So, a few months out from primary course there may only be a 10 per cent difference in risk whereas it was 90 per cent with the Alpha variant.

“To exclude the small number of people who are not vaccinated on the argument that they have a 10 per cent higher risk of infection is not arguable from an epidemiological point of view.”

Dr Bennett said as Omicron put fewer people in hospital, so a marginally higher rate of infection in the population was not going to make a material difference to the number in hospital. …

“The booster complicated things as that more than halves infection risk for a few months at least, so that does make a difference, but given the small number in the population who either haven’t been infected or vaccinated, there is little to be gained from having vaccine mandates in place.” …

Dr Clay Golledge, an infectious disease expert at Hollywood Hospital, said Premier Mark McGowan would need to move away from vaccine mandates.

“The days of mandates are rapidly running out because we have a high vaccination rate,” he said.

“Mandates have done their job in terms of dragging the reluctant 10 to 15 per cent of people who are vaccine-hesitant over the line.

“But with Omicron everything has changed, it’s not the killer that it was.

“The Premier is still pretty welded to old policies, but there is a limited role in mandates now, and he will have to change them.”

Dr Golledge added he did not believe third doses should be mandated for people who were fit and healthy.

Mandatory injections are immoral, and these vaccines are almost useless. Time to relent, Mr McGowan.

When the facts change, I change my mind. what do you do, sir? — John Maynard Keynes.

hat-tip Stephen Neil