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'Shivers down our spines': The terrifying Covid prediction for NSW

Yahoo News Staff
·5-min read

The NSW Government once feared 25,000 people would die from Covid-19.

The data modelling from NSW Health obtained by The Sydney Morning Herald showed ministers were told 24,768 residents could die from coronavirus in 12 months last year.

The modelling was done by the Doherty Institute in Melbourne and based off figures from the UK, China and Italy.

NSW Minister for Health Brad Hazzard provides a Covid-19 update in Sydney.
NSW Minister for Health Brad Hazzard received information suggesting more than 24,000 people would die from coronavirus in NSW last year. Source: AAP, file

Health Minister Brad Hazzard said the information he received was “horrible”.

“We were told we faced a massive tsunami of possible deaths and the force of the numbers we were presented with sent shivers down our spines,” Mr Hazzard told The Sydney Morning Herald.

It was given to the government on March 25. That was three days after NSW went into lockdown.

Mr Hazzard told the paper the data showed the NSW Government made the right decision to go into lockdown “because we had to stop the chains of transmission before they got away from us”.

NSW has had 56 deaths from Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic.

People are seen walking along Bondi Beach in Sydney past a 'beach closed' sign.
People walk past a closed Bondi Beach in April last year. Source: AAP

Covid-19 vaccination timeline removed

The data comes to light as more questions are being asked about Australia’s plans for vaccinating the public.

A set timeline has now been abandoned, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison saying on Sunday an initial target of October has proven unachievable due partly to dosage import delays and health concerns, with an end-of-2021 timeframe also off the table.

"The government has... not set, nor has any plans to set any new targets for completing first doses," the prime minister said in a social media post.

Reverend of the Boigu Anglican church Stanley Marama receives the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine at the community centre at Boigu Island, Australia.
Boigu Island resident and reverend of the local Anglican church Stanley Marama receives the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine last month. Source: Getty Images

"While we would like to see these doses completed before the end of the year, it is not possible to set such targets given the many uncertainties involved."

Previously Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Dan Tehan told Sky News's Sunday Agenda program the government's aim was to have all Australians injected with at least one dose of the vaccine by the end of the year.

But that deadline was later retracted.

"We will just get on with the job of working together to produce, distribute and administer the vaccines as safely and efficiently as possible," Mr Morrison said.

Concerns over AstraZeneca vaccine

The rollout was thrown into disarray last week after health authorities recommended AstraZeneca vaccines should only be given to Australians aged over 50, following concerns about blood clotting.

Health Minister Greg Minister insists GPs have not been put off participating in the rollout of the vaccine program because of the AstraZeneca advice.

And for any doctors who may be concerned about being sued if it was administered to a younger person, he says vaccine indemnity agreements are already in place.

Mr Hunt said GPs had "flocked" to participate in the vaccine program in the coming week.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison during a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra, Australia.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said a target of October for Australians to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 was unrealistic. Source: Getty Images

But there are also reports doctors are concerned if they give an AstraZeneca jab to a younger person they may face a legal challenge if there are resulting problems.

Mr Hunt said while Pfizer was preferred for those under 50, AstraZeneca was available, subject to the medical discussion between a doctor and their patient

"On indemnity, I want to make something very, very clear," he told reporters in Melbourne.

"Australia already has vaccine indemnity agreements in place. I am saying this on behalf of the government but also on behalf of our legal advice, no doctor need worry."

Australian Medical Association president Omar Khorshild said it was critical for Australia's future that public confidence in the vaccine program was maintained.

"Your GP will give you the best advice about any medicine or vaccine," he said.

"They will offer you what they believe to be of medical benefit to you and explain any risks and benefits of having, or not having, the treatment."

A worker at CSL rolls out the first batch of the AstraZeneca vaccine in Melbourne, Australia, onto a truck.
A CSL worker loads up AstraZeneca vaccine in Melbourne. Source: Getty Images

Tehan to embark on 'vaccine diplomacy'

Labor's health spokesman Mark Butler said the government should have secured more vaccine deals to ensure there was a backup plan when something like the AstraZeneca situation arose.

"We are now in a very difficult situation," Mr Butler told ABC's Insiders program.

"Australia was already way behind schedule in the vaccine rollout, not in the top 100 nations in the world, and a bad situation has been made far worse by these unforeseen events around the AstraZeneca vaccine."

But Mr Hunt said the government had followed the advice of health experts.

Mr Tehan will embark on a "vaccine diplomacy" trip to Europe from Wednesday.

He will speak with the European Union, and his ministerial counterparts in France, Germany and Brussels.

"I will also be meeting the director general of the World Trade Organisation to talk about what we can do to ensure supply of the vaccine, not only for Australia, but globally," Mr Tehan said.

The latest count of vaccinations administered numbered 1.16 million on Sunday, with more than 465,000 given by GPs, the government said.

Mr Morrison said those figures put Australia's progressive rollout on par with Germany and ahead of other countries including Canada, Sweden, France and Japan at the same stage.

There were no new Covid-19 community transmission cases reported on Sunday.

with AAP

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