America’s leading infectious diseases expert has issued a dire warning about the worldwide coronavirus pandemic, while praising Australia’s response.
Dr Anthony Fauci warned no country is safe from further outbreaks until the vast majority of the world’s population is vaccinated against the virus and its spread is controlled in every nation.
The chief health adviser to US President Joe Biden warned about future threats of the virus and the need for the world to work together while participating in a University of New South Wales lecture via videolink on Wednesday.
While lavishing praise on Australia’s response, which has seen just 909 deaths across the nation related to the disease, he warned that the pandemic is far from over until every country has its spread under control.
‘When you ultimately get it controlled, if you want to maintain the control, you want to have control throughout the entire world,’ Dr Fauci explained.
America’s top infectious diseases expert has praised ‘capability and uniformity’ of Australians during the pandemic. Pictured are Melburnians enjoying their post-lockdown freedom
‘As long as there’s the dynamic of virus replication somewhere, there will always be the threat of the emergence of variants which could then come back.
‘And even though most of the rest of the world is vaccinated, it can threaten the world – that has felt that they’ve controlled the virus when they’re still quite vulnerable.
The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the US National Institute of Health praised Australia on its response to the pandemic with effective lockdowns, along with the ‘capability and uniformity of citizens’.
‘Australia, I believe, was one of the better countries in the entire world in how you responded and unfortunately we have not done nearly as well as we should have done, Dr Fauci said.
‘When you shut down, you really shut down, very effectively.
‘Then when you had a situation where you opened up again, you responded quickly and efficiently and I’m sure not everybody in Australia was excited about having to shut things down but you did it in a way which was really quite uniform, but importantly, effective.’
The expert praised Australia’s response but warned the threat of the virus isn’t over. Pictured are Sydneysiders celebrating the removal of lockout laws in Kings Cross
He said vaccination will be the answer but warned the threat of public hesitancy could be a ‘stumbling block’ for mass vaccination.
While recently elected President Biden has made the vaccine rollout a ‘very top priority’ in the US, Australia’s rollout has been riddled with delays and bungles since it began in February.
So far, 563,000 deaths in the US have been linked to the virus, with 31.4 million known cases.
‘Variants are a problem, no doubt, but we are a fortunate… we now have several vaccines that are highly efficacious,’ Dr Fauci said.
‘The issue is we’ve got to get the overwhelming majority of the population vaccinated.’
Dr Fauci also shared an insight into the situation in the US, admitting a lack of unity and profound divisiveness played a part in the US faring worse than other nations.
Dr Anthony Fauci (pictured) says no country, including Australia, is safe from further outbreaks until the vast majority of the world’s population is vaccinated against coronavirus – and its variants
Dr Fauci says vaccination will be the answer. Pictured is a Sydney woman being vaccinated
‘If you look at the United States, we had an inconsistent response which allowed us, unfortunately for us, to really do worse than essentially any other country, which is really extremely unfortunate,’ Dr Fauci said.
‘It is unfortunate we are living right now in our country in a time of profound divisiveness. I think anyone who pays any attention to what’s going on in the United States sees that.’
‘In some respects, that happens in different countries, but when it spills over in the middle of the worst, most historic pandemic of a respiratory disease that we’ve had in over 100 years, if there’s anything you want, is you want people to be pulling together in uniform.’
Dr Fauci says Australia was one of the best countries in its handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Pictured are women on a night out in Sydney’s Darlinghurst in March
While Australia was once the envy of the world for its incredibly low coronavirus rates, allowing citizens to go about their ordinary lives without massive restrictions, it is now feared the nation will be left behind as the rest of the world begins to move on.
International borders have been shut since March 2020 to stop the virus being brought in from overseas, and there is no known timeline for overseas travel to restart.
The government has even revealed that after the majority of Australians are fully-vaccinated, it may still keep the borders shut.
‘Vaccination alone is no guarantee that you can open up,’ health minister Greg Hunt said on Tuesday.
‘If the whole country were vaccinated, you couldn’t just open the borders.
‘We still have to look at a series of different factors: transmission, longevity [of vaccine protection] and the global impact – and those are factors which the world is learning about.’
The government’s cautious approach was quickly lashed by business leaders and media commentators who said Australia has turned into a ‘prison island’.
Passengers arrive on a Qantas flight from Melbourne at Sydney Airport to be met by health officials taking their temperature (pictured) with domestic travel back on across the country – but there’s no end in sight for international border closures