Wed. Jan 26th, 2022

Australia’s most senior health official has given a big hint about the future of booster shots.

Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunization would “absolutely” consider the possibility of a fourth shot.

“(ATAGI) continues to meet weekly … They will definitely consider fourth or subsequent doses,” he told reporters in Canberra on Saturday.

Earlier this month, Israel became the first country to begin rolling out a fourth dose of the vaccine.

Denmark and Chile have also begun rolling out another booster for people at risk of serious illness.

A fourth dose is already recommended for immunocompromised people in Australia.

ATAGI is currently reviewing whether a fourth shot of the vaccine is required.
Camera iconATAGI is currently reviewing whether a fourth shot of the vaccine is required. Credit: News Regional media

Professor Kelly said he had spoken to his Israeli colleagues, who assured him at this stage that a fourth dose was only for immunocompromised as well as health professionals.

“They hold (the fourth dose) very close to people with a higher risk of severity,” he said.

“So older people – I think it’s people over 60 – people with chronic diseases, especially those that lead to weakened immune systems and health professionals.

“They are still evaluating that program, and they have promised in the coming weeks to share that evaluation with us.”

Professor Allen Cheng – who sits on ATAGI as co-chair of Covid-19 – said it was too early to say whether a new booster would be needed.

“All this is on the table. But it’s too early to call yet. We have to wait for the data,” he told the nine newspapers.

PRIME MINISTER PRESS
Camera iconCMO Paul Kelly says he regularly receives advice from his Israeli colleagues. NCA NewsWire / Gary Ramage Credit: Corp Australia company profile

So far, 4.86 million Australians have received a booster shot.

But it looks like an announcement of oral treatments for Covid-19 is imminent, with Professor Kelly teasing the drug regulator, will be set to make a decision.

“In the coming days and weeks, there will be additional announcements about oral medication, which is currently being reviewed by the Therapeutic Goods Administration,” the chief physician said.

“It’s a very good development and news there, but I do not want to prejudge TGA’s full independent regulatory assessment.”

GREG HUNT PRESSES
Camera iconHealth Secretary Greg Hunt said there are signs there is hope the basket is close to peaking. NCA NewsWire / David Crosling Credit: Corp Australia company profile

Both Health Minister Greg Hunt and Professor Kelly said the news would add to the “signs of hope” that Australia is approaching its peak for Omicron infections.

“We have our vaccines, we have some treatments or more treatments on the way, and the actual curve peaks,” Professor Kelly said.

“It is not time to stop all our other public health and social measures and our testing, tracking, isolation and quarantine, but there are signs of hope today.”

Professor Kelly also issued a stern warning to young people about being vaccinated.

“We are seeing an epidemic of unvaccinated young people. We see this in intensive care, ”he said.

“Anyone of any age should stand in line to get the primary vaccination course and boosters.”

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