COVID-19 update - What’s going on in Australia?

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  • Australia reported 31,064 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, taking the total number of cases to 2,436,656.
  • Fully vaccinated tourists and visa holders can travel to Australia from 21 February.
  • Eligible Australian kids of 16 and 17 years can now get a COVID-19 booster shot.
  • The TGA of Australia provisionally approved AstraZeneca’s vaccine as a booster dose.

Despite Australia strengthening its shield against COVID-19 infection with a successful vaccination drive across the country, the virus continues to affect a large number of people across the country. Australia reported 31,064 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, taking the total number of cases to 2,436,656. There have been 4,336 fatalities in the country so far due to COVID-19. Among the states, New South Wales has recorded the highest number of active cases (138,118), followed by Victoria (57,022).

Let us look at some of the significant COVID-19 pandemic-related updates from Australia.

Kids aged 16-17 years eligible for a booster dose

Upon the recommendation of the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI), the Australian government approved booster doses for kids aged 16 and 17 years with required eligibility from 3 February onwards. After completing three months of their primary course, they will take the Pfizer vaccine as a booster dose. Kids who were aged 15 when they had their second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and have now reached 16 years are also eligible for a booster dose. As of 9 February 2022, around 88% of teens in the age group of 16 to 19 years have received their second dose of the vaccine.

Reopening of international borders

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It was reported on Monday that Australia would be reopening its international borders from 21 February for fully vaccinated tourists, visa holders, business travellers, and other visitors. The decision has been taken by the federal government as part of the strategy to secure economic recovery.

Related read: Why Australia witnessed spike in international travel towards 2021 end

New developments in the vaccination drive

On Tuesday (8 February), the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) of Australia provisionally approved AstraZeneca’s booster dose (Vaxzevria) for people aged 18 and older. Vaccine aspirants need to consult with a medical professional before receiving Vaxzevria as a booster dose. However, the TGA recommends Australians prefer Moderna or Pfizer for their third shot.

Australia received its first batch of the Novavax vaccine of about three million doses on Monday. Novavax is the first protein-based and the fourth overall COVID-19 vaccine permitted in Australia.

Related read: Decoding the logic behind Covid-19 booster jab

Medlab Clinical to develop NanoCelle Nasal RNA COVID-19 vaccine

Scientists from Australia are currently researching the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine as a nasal spray instead of injection. Nasal spray technology bypasses the need for a doctor or refrigeration. The New South Wales Government has provided a grant to Medlab Clinical to research and develop the NanoCelle Nasal RNA vaccine in January.

The global scenario of the pandemic
Globally, the number of new COVID-19 cases decreased by 17% last week (31 January to 6 February) compared to the number reported last week, while the number of new deaths soared by 7%.

New research from Japan showed that Omicron could survive on skin and plastic more than the original COVID-19 strain. This more prolonged survival on these surfaces contributes to Omicron’s increased infectivity because there’s more likelihood of picking up the viable virus from surfaces.

Also read: Why do some people steer clear of COVID-19?



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