News, Culture & Society

Brett Sutton slams Australia’s response to Covid-19 and warns mutant strain could arrive next year

Victoria’s chief health officer has issued an urgent warning a mutant strain of coronavirus could hit Australian shores as early as next year while slamming the country’s response to the pandemic. 

Brett Sutton has criticised the Federal government for failing to provide an ‘explicit recovery phase’ in its National Cabinet Covid-19 roadmap. 

He warned 2022 will bring a new set of challenges as Covid-weary residents brace themselves to enter a third year of living with the virus. 

In an article co-authored by the Grattan Institute’s Dr Stephen Duckett and published by the Medical Journal of Australia, the authors said the government needed to prepare to weather the lingering repercussions of Covid-19.   

‘All viruses mutate, new dominant strains emerge. We do not know whether the next SARS‐CoV‐2 strain will be nastier than its predecessor, or whether a new vaccine will be required and could be developed quickly,’ they wrote. 

Victoria’s chief health officer Brett Sutton (pictured) has criticised the federal government for failing to provide an ‘explicit recovery phase’ in its National Cabinet Covid-19 roadmap

The academics slammed the Federal government for not sufficiently planning for the economic and mental health effects of the pandemic in its official roadmap.  

The co-authors said the recovery phase that usually followed a public health emergency would normally address these impacts. 

The four-part roadmap agreed to by Australia’s states and territories ends with the ‘final post-vaccination phase’ with would see lockdowns abolished and international borders flung open. 

‘Disappointingly, the roadmap includes no explicit recovery phase: it as if we could all soon heave a sigh of relief and simply move on,’ the paper states.  

Mr Sutton warned 2022 would bring a new set of challenges as Covid-weary residents brace themselves for a third year of living alongside the virus (pictured, bar-goers in Sydney)

Mr Sutton warned 2022 would bring a new set of challenges as Covid-weary residents brace themselves for a third year of living alongside the virus (pictured, bar-goers in Sydney)

On top of lingering health conditions of the virus the journal also flagged burnout experienced by overworked healthcare staff would need to be managed. 

Impacts on mental health would need to managed ‘for years, not weeks’ on top of lingering health concerns like ‘long-Covid’, deferred elective procedures and the effects of the virus on cardiac and respiratory function. 

The academics said coronavirus had affected Australia unevenly and left the impoverished at a greater disadvantage.  

‘Covid‐19 became a disease of low income workers – those who couldn’t work from home – and their families and communities,’ the paper reads. 

‘The recovery phase needs to rebuild community and system resilience and redress disadvantage exacerbated by Covid-19.’   

The academics said while Australia had 'weathered the Covid-19 storm well' it was time for some 'belt-tightening' to safeguard the health system (pictured, punters in Sydney)

The academics said while Australia had ‘weathered the Covid-19 storm well’ it was time for some ‘belt-tightening’ to safeguard the health system (pictured, punters in Sydney)

While the co-authors agreed Australia had ‘weathered the Covid-19 storm well’ they said it was time for some ‘belt-tightening’ to safeguard the public health system.  

‘Our death rate was among the lowest in the world, and the impact on the economy was also relatively mild,’ the journal read.  

‘But these successes may have hindered our vaccination rollout. We cannot allow complacency to similarly encumber how we live with Covid‐19.’ 

However the authors applauded the Australian health system for adapting ‘remarkably well’ to Covid-19. 

They referred to successfully established mass vaccination hubs, increased telehealth options for outpatients and flexibility demonstrated by hospitals. 

The authors said instead of a ‘witch hunt’ the government should look to reflect on its response to the pandemic as an ‘exercise in learning and improvement’.  

As of Saturday, 90 per cent of people aged 16 and over in Australia had received one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine and 83 per cent had received two (pictured, a nurse administers a vaccine)

 As of Saturday, 90 per cent of people aged 16 and over in Australia had received one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine and 83 per cent had received two (pictured, a nurse administers a vaccine)

Mr Sutton and Mr Duckett said local, state and national level must reflect on the public health lessons from the pandemic. 

‘The federal government will need to finalise a policy on permanently incorporating telehealth into primary care and specialist care in the community,’ they said. 

The health experts said the government needed to share the increased health care costs of the pandemic on top of the costs of deferred care for the next two years. 

‘Under current arrangements, these costs will be borne entirely by the states because of the cap on federal funding.’  

As of Saturday, 90 per cent of people aged 16 and over in Australia had received one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine and 83 per cent had received two. 

***
Read more at DailyMail.co.uk