Australia’s most senior health advisor has offered a big clue on booster shots as COVID-19 cases climb across the country.
Australia’s most senior health official has given a big hint at the future of booster shots.
Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunization would “absolutely” discuss the possibility of a fourth shot.
“The (ATGI) weekly meetings are on. They will fully consider the fourth or subsequent dose,” he told reporters in Canberra on Saturday.
Earlier this month, Israel became the first country to introduce a fourth dose of the vaccine.
Denmark and Chile have also started giving second boosters to people at risk for serious illness.
A fourth dose has already been recommended for immunized people in Australia.
Professor Kelly said he had spoken to his Israeli counterparts who assured him that a fourth dose at this stage is only for immunocompromised, as well as healthcare workers.
“They are too tight (the fourth dose) for people at high risk of severity,” he said.
“So many people – I believe it’s people over 60 – people with chronic diseases, especially those who have compromised immunity and health care workers.
“They are still evaluating that program and have promised to share that evaluation with us in the coming weeks.”
Professor Alan Cheng – who sits on ATAGI as co-chair of Covid-19 – said it was too early to tell whether a second booster would be needed.
“It’s all on the table. But it’s too early to call now. We need to wait for the data,” he told nine newspapers.
So far 4.86 million Australians have received a booster shot.
But it looks like an announcement of an oral treatment for COVID-19 is imminent, with Professor Kelly ready to make a decision to tease the drug regulator.
“More announcements will be made in the coming days and weeks regarding the oral medications that are currently being reviewed by the Therapeutic Goods Administration,” the chief medical officer said.
“This is great development and news, but I would not pre-empt a full independent regulatory assessment of the TGA.”
Health Minister Greg Hunt and Professor Kelly both said the news would add to “signs of hope” Australia is at its peak of Omicron infections.
“We have our vaccines, we have some treatments, or more treatments on the way, and the real curve is peaking,” Professor Kelly said.
“This is not the time to stop all our other public health and social measures and our test, trace, isolate and quarantine, but there are signs of hope today.”
Professor Kelly also issued a stern warning to young people to get vaccinated.
“We are seeing an epidemic of unvaccinated young people. We are seeing that in intensive care admissions,” he said.
“Anyone of any age should be prepared for that primary course of vaccinations and boosters.”