RESEARCH has shown that despite increasing COVID-19 case numbers, the emergence of variants new to Australia and warnings of a new wave, nearly two thirds of Australians are complacent about the risks of infection.
The research has been conducted by Pfizer Australia, which has an obvious interest in keeping the COVID-19 pandemic front and centre in the public mind. However, the Pfizer research does make sense and confirms what anyone can see around them: few people wearing masks in busy places and on public transport.
The Pfizer Australia research showed that compared to a year ago, nearly two thirds of Australians believe the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic is now over. A similar number is now less concerned about the impact of COVID-19 in their community.
Around half feel less concerned about their personal risk of serious illness and slightly more than half think others around them, including family, friends and work colleagues are also less concerned about their personal risk.
Professor Robert Booy, Infectious Diseases Specialist and Paediatrician, University of Sydney, has warned against complacency during the current wave, stating: “Protection against COVID-19 infection requires several steps, including ensuring your vaccinations are up to date, practicing COVID safe behaviours and ensuring if you do test positive to COVID, you act fast by talking to your GP to learn if anti-viral medicines are right for you.”
“Recent Federal Government data has shown COVID-19 still poses a very real risk to the health of our communities as we move into a new wave of infections, specifically to those at higher risk of serious illness. The fact that one in three Australians are less likely to test for COVID-19 when they experience symptoms or consult their GP if they test positive compared to a year ago is of concern. Testing earlier means people can seek medical advice sooner and can access anti-viral medicines faster if they are eligible”, Professor Booy noted.
Tanya Hall, Chief Executive Officer and Founder, Hearts4heart, urged Australians to remain vigilant. “This research shows that one in five of those at higher risk, like those over 70, those with health conditions like heart disease, lung disease or diabetes, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are less likely to test or see a GP if they experience COVID-19 symptoms. These people are more likely to suffer serious illness including hospitalisation from COVID-19, so it’s important these groups act fast by speaking to their GP if they test positive”.
The Actuaries Institute’s COVID-19 Mortality Working Group estimates deaths from COVID-19 in the first ten months of 2022 are approximately 9,800. This makes COVID-19 the third leading cause of death in Australia for January – October 2022. It is expected to also be the third leading cause of death across the whole of 2022.
Older Australians are at higher risk from COVID-19 infections. If you do experience COVID-19 symptoms or test positive, you should act fast by seeking medical advice from your GP, or by calling HealthDirect’s helpline (1800 022 222) to find out if you are eligible for anti-viral medicines.