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‘Worst-case scenario’ COVID 19 vaccine is never found

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

A vaccine for deadly COVID-19 may be 18 months away but we must face a worst-case scenario no cure will ever be found, a Grattan Institute health economist has warned.

A vaccine for deadly COVID-19 may be 18 months away but we must face a worst-case scenario where no cure is ever found, a Grattan Institute health economist has warned.

Australia's endgame for the coronavirus pandemic requires a global vaccine for it to safely lift international border restrictions and allow travellers into the country.

Stephen Duckett, the health program director at the Grattan Institute, said "we cannot really think seriously about a vaccine" for another year or 18 months.

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"But there may never be a vaccine," he said, outlining a worst-case but realistic scenario.

If Australia's hard-fought domestic lockdown reduces COVID-19 cases to zero, it would then be able to lift painful internal restrictions, opening up stores, commerce, schools and domestic tourism.

But without a vaccine, international borders would have to remain closed to passenger traffic who could enter the country carrying the virus and cause another outbreak.

Millions of dollars are being invested in a race to find a coronavirus vaccine and cure.

Once a successful vaccine has been developed, it will take many months to ramp up production to meet global demand.

Speaking on a Grattan Institute webinar, Mr Duckett said there "a number of prospects" were being worked on in laboratories around the world, including Australia.

"Some of them are old drugs, some of them are new drugs," he said.

Mr Duckett, who has held senior health policy leadership positions in Australia and Canada, is concerned about Australia's intensive care unit capacity.

There had been a heavy focus on ventilators, Mr Duckett said, but he cautioned that shortages of staff and personal protective equipment were equally important.

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"The staffing situation is as serious as the ventilator machine situation," he said.

"Every machine has an experienced nurse 24/7 next to that patient.

"These are very experienced nurses, and we can't just create them overnight."

A scientist looks through a microscope in a university laboratory.

He predicted ICU units would draft in regular nurses who would need to be supervised by staff more experienced in an acute environment.

Mr Duckett was also critical of the Federal Government's decision to keep schools open.

"I would have closed schools a week ago," he said.

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Source: 9News

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