Have we got COVID-19 licked?

Article published 24 November 2023

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COVID-19 was so big it's hard to imagine it's no longer a problem, but the worldwide and Australian stats don't lie.

THINGS are really looking up with COVID-19.

According to the World Health Organisation, the number of new COVID-19 cases worldwide had gone down by 42 per cent by the end of October 2023 compared with the month before. Deaths went down by 43 per cent, with 4,700 new fatalities reported.

That was worldwide, but in Australia things have improved even more.

First some Australian stats. This year there have been 805,603 confirmed cases of COVID-19. The age group with the most cases is 30 to 34 years: 58,024. The number per age group then starts to reduce, right down to the age of 85, with 28,331 cases.

After that age, cases shoot up again: 47,478. Clearly, if you are older than 85, you are at greater risk of getting COVID-19 than most seniors.

But the good news is that deaths due to COVID-19 are becoming rare. The rolling 7-day average of COVID-19-related deaths, which was still 56 a day on 1 January of this year, has since gone down to zero (7 November).

This doesn’t mean COVID-19 can’t kill you, but vaccinations and medications are doing their job.

In Australia’s nursing homes, the situation is also improving. Since the beginning of the Omicron outbreak in mid-December 2021, there have been 115,364 deaths. COVID-19 deaths account for 4.4 percent of this figure, or 5,076.

But for the period of 1 July 2023 to 11 November 2023, COVID-19 is recorded as the cause of death in 1.3 percent of all deaths in nursing homes. That’s an improvement.

So, good news on the COVID-19 front, although it’s no reason to slack off with getting vaccinated.

This week the Australian Government accepted the latest advice from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) on the use of a new COVID-19 vaccine (XBB 1.5).

While all available COVID-19 vaccines continue to provide strong protection against serious disease, the new XBB 1.5 vaccines have been found to provide modest improved protection against the COVID-19 strains circulating in the community.

The Government has not changed the current vaccine eligibility recommendations.

The new vaccine is a good reminder to get vaccinated if you haven’t had your recommended doses. Those who have had their 2023 COVID-19 vaccinations need not get vaccinated again with the new XBB 1.5 vaccine. They remain well protected against severe disease from COVID-19.

Have we got COVID-19 licked? Well, it seems so, although you can still catch it as easily as you catch a cold. Nobody wants to be that exception and get sick, so keep on getting the COVID jab is the best policy to adopt.

A second 2023 COVID-19 vaccine dose, is recommended for all adults 75 years or over if 6 months have passed since their last dose. Not yet 75 but over 65? You can also get a second 2023 dose, and anyone any age who is immuno-compromised can as well.

For more information please email our media contact at media@cpsa.org.au

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