It’s the message of hope Australia has been waiting to hear – one of the nation’s top doctors has now confidently predicted: ‘In 2022, the COVID-19 pandemic will end.’
Former deputy chief medical officer Dr Nick Coatsworth says vaccination jabs and the spread of the mild Omicron strain will finally make the world immune to Covid.
His welcome words have come as Australia again hit record new case numbers across the country – but thankfully ICU numbers remain stubbornly low.
And that mirrors the experience overseas where death rates have barely budged despite massive surges in numbers – and in the UK, deaths have actually dropped during the current Omicron outbreak.
It’s the message of hope Australia has been waiting to hear, One of the nation’s top doctors has now confidently predicted: ‘In 2022, the COVID-19 pandemic will end.’
Former deputy chief medical officer Dr Nick Coatsworth (pictured) says vaccination and Omicron are going to make the world immune to Covid
Now Dr Coatsworth says the world is on the verge of using Omicron to bounce back from the nightmare of the last two years.
‘We will live our lives again as part of the incredibly social and incurably optimistic human species that thrives on this planet,’ he said in an op-ed for the Sydney Morning Herald.
‘2022 will be the year the pandemic ends. It could even be sooner than we think.’
More than 137,000 Australians were infected with Covid on New Year’s Day – but there are just 135 patients currently in ICU with the virus, including 79 in NSW where the state recorded 22, 577 new cases on Saturday.
A look back at the NSW Government’s doomsday modelling about the impact of the Delta outbreak, revealed in September, puts the latest figures in context.
The Burnet Institute predicted 2,000 cases a day by November with 947 patients in ICU and hospitals on code black emergency status – but still able to cope.
The Burnet Institute modelling (pictured) predicted that for two weeks at the end of October and the start of November, the NSW hospital system would be in on a code black, level 3, emergency footing with 947 in ICU – although it never eventuated in the end
There are currently 135 in ICU with the virus – and data from overseas shows death rates have actually DROPPED during Omicron outbreaks (pictured, a Covid patient at Sydney’s St Vincent’s Hospital)
The latest NSW Health figures of just 79 ICU patients on New Year’s Day is not even one-tenth of that modelling prediction, despite Covid cases being more than 10 times worse.
There are currently fewer patients in NSW ICU now than there were on October 30 which had 81 people in ICU with 31 on ventilators, compared to just 26 on Saturday.
More than 70 per cent of NSW ICU patients are unvaccinated – and global studies suggest the unvaxxed are 60 times more likely to end up in intensive care.
Dr Coatsworth said the human race had emerged from countless pandemics throughout history – and it will make us stronger and more capable of managing the next in future.
He was the face of Australia’s vaccination programme rollout when it first began, and he said the massive widespread uptake will be key to our future.
He hailed the way the Australian public had rallied to the cause and got jabbed to protect themselves and the community.
‘The virus itself has also helped us,’ he said. ‘It has evolved into a definitively milder illness with a complete uncoupling of case numbers and hospitalisations.’
‘The evidence for this emerged from South Africa very early in the Omicron wave and now has been validated around the world to the point of being conclusive.’
DrNick Coatsworth says the world is on the verge of using Omicron to bounce back from the nightmare of the last two years (pictured New Years Eve fireworks on Sydney Harbour)
In South Africa, where Omicron was first identified, cases are already dropping dramatically just a month after the new variant first began to spread.
Cases began to surge there around Nov 28 and hit their peak about two weeks later on Dec 12 when the country had more than 37,000 reported new cases.
Since then the numbers have been falling steadily and are now around 10,000 new cases a day – but death rates have barely changed throughout the outbreak.
South Africa’s average Covid daily death rate went from 31 on November 10 before the outbreak, to 64 at its peak, despite case numbers soaring 15,000 per cent.
In South Africa, where Omicron was first identified, cases are already dropping dramatically just a month after it first began to spread (pictured)
South Africa’s average Covid daily death rate went from 31 on November 10 before the outbreak, to 64 at its peak, despite case numbers soaring 15,000 per cent (pictured)
In the UK, daily new cases are approaching 200,000 a day – but the seven day average death rate for the disease has actually dropped below pre-Omicron levels, from 157 a day in October to its current 100 a day average.
‘In Britain, hundreds of thousands of cases have not brought the National Health Service to collapse,’ said Dr Coatsworth.
‘Regis Professor of Medicine at Oxford John Bell concluded earlier in the week that Omicron is not “the same disease we were seeing a year ago.”. Every nation has seen the same phenomenon. We are seeing it in Australia.’
Australia’s leaders have admitted the nation’s health system has been put under pressure with the latest Omicron outbreak, especially handling testing and results.
Victoria’s Covid Commissioner Jeroen Weimar admitted the current rising numbers were a concern but insisted the preparations were in place to deal with it (pictured, testing at Bondi)
‘We’ve seen a significant increase in case numbers, but what is pleasing is that our health system remains strong,’ NSW Premier Dom Perrottet said on Friday.
‘Whilst the case numbers are substantially increasing, compared to where we were with the Delta variant, our position remains incredibly strong.’
Victoria’s Covid Commissioner Jeroen Weimar admitted the current rising numbers were a concern but insisted the preparations were in place to deal with it.
‘We expect to see those numbers continue to rise over the days ahead,’ he said. ‘There’s a huge amount of work happening across our hospitals to make sure we’re ready for that workload.’
Dr Nick Coatsworth has called for an end to social media scaremongering and says it’s time to learn to live with the virus (pictured, cars queue for testing at Bondi on New Year’s Day)
Now Dr Coatsworth has called for an end to social media scaremongering and says it’s time to learn to live with the virus.
‘In light of our community success, the evolution of the virus to a milder form and effective new treatments, the time for mandates and whole-of-community restrictions is therefore over,’ he said.
‘The case for fear of COVID-19 is now restricted largely to the social media platform of Twitter.
‘Absent the perennial efforts of a small but vocal section of public health academia and a dwindling number of media personalities, our community is ready and can move to a phase of living with COVID-19 as an endemic virus.’
Health chiefs have admitted the nation’s health system has been put under pressure with the latest Omicron outbreak, especially handling testing and results (pictured, an ICU patient at Sydney’s St Vincent’s Hospital)
But he warned some may try to use the spread of Omicron for political gain before this year’s federal election ‘in an attempt to damage the incumbent Coalition’.
He added: ‘We can be rightly proud of what we have achieved as Australians in the face of what was the challenge of our lifetime.
‘We will emerge a stronger, healthier and more prosperous nation for our efforts.’