“The Australian population remain overwhelmingly susceptible to this virus because they have been protected,” WHO’s public emergencies chief warned.
The Australian population remain overwhelmingly susceptible to this virus because they have been protected by their government, protected by their public health system, protected by the strategy that was used by Australia, Dr Mike Ryan, head of WHOs public emergencies program, said.
That success in protecting your population should not result in lacking access to that which will give you more permanent protection to that population.
Dr Ryan said that while Australia had deployed very big responses to very small numbers of cases, the very severe methods had worked.
Australia not only flattened that curve, it destroyed that curve and it has kept it at that really low level since, he said.
That didnt happen by accident, that didnt happen because of luck, that happened because the Australian government applied a comprehensive strategy to suppress this virus, to track contacts, to test, test, test. They have really shown us all how to use public health to kill a virus.
He said that in the long term, the path out of the pandemic required vaccines combined with the strict public health measures adopted by Australia and New Zealand.
Dr Bruce Aylward from the WHO said every country had vulnerable populations, including healthcare workers and the elderly.
Although a situation may look quiet in one country or another it can explode very, very rapidly, he said.
Last week, Trade Minister Dan Tehan told the ABC that Australia would form a coalition of countries to pressure the European Commission, which backed the Italian block, so they would realise what they are doing is wrong.
WHO strongly backs AstraZeneca vaccine
Meanwhile, the WHO strongly backed the AstraZeneca vaccine, which several countries – including Bulgaria, Thailand, Iceland and Norway – stopped distributing this week.
Austria, Italy, Luxembourg, Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia stopped using certain batches after the European regulator EMA reported 22 cases of blood clotting in patients who had received the vaccine.
Australia has secured about 54 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, of which 50 million is being produced in Melbourne by CSL.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly on Friday said the vaccine was safe.
The AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is effective, it is safe, and its a high-quality vaccine, Professor Kelly said.
Because it is being produced at no profit and can be stored at regular fridge temperatures, it is seen as the vaccine that will underpin inoculation in the developing world.
Dr Aylward said AstraZenecas vaccine was a standout as one of the great products and the WHO had great confidence in the vaccine.
The WHO said vaccinations should continue until any link was identified, saying the preliminary data did not show any causal relationship between the vaccine and blood clotting.
The WHO is likely to deliver a verdict following an investigation by the middle of nextweek.
WHO chief scientist Dr Soumya Swaminathan added that there had not been a single death as a result of anyone taking the vaccine.
Of the 330 million vaccine doses that have been deployed, we are not aware of any one confirmed COVID-vaccine-related death, she said.
There have been deaths following vaccination in people, but people die of diseases every day.
Latika Bourke is a journalist for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, based in London.