15 January 2021

There has been much belated discussion recently about most Australians being set to receive the less effective AstraZeneca (AZN) COVID-19 vaccine, rather than the Pfizer vaccine.  This was a topic I flagged in July 2020 https://www.linkedin.com/posts/nickbirrell_covid-19-vaccine-deals-activity-6690454536966025216-_g30

Some are arguing that Australians should be content with the less effective vaccine because we are in such a good state regarding COVID-19.  We are in such a good state as we are an island that has closed to the world, a result that I forecast 9 months ago https://www.linkedin.com/posts/nickbirrell_kintan-pty-ltd-activity-6654926659575209984-eEjj

Australia is an isolated country with numerous personal and business connections to the world.  The impact of closing the country has been dramatic as this ABS graph shows.  So when will we re-open?  It is evident that Australian governments have no plan and no idea on how or when to reopen.  They can hardly manage the limited inflow of overseas arrivals and have had to halve the number.

The fact that the majority of Australians will be receiving the AZN vaccine will not greatly help the COVID-terrified governments form a plan.  Knowing that 40% or so of vaccine recipients are still susceptible to the disease will not encourage the governments to want recipients to travel to countries where they may become infected.  Or if they do let them out, then they certainly will not let them back if infected.

The AZN vaccine may stop you dying or being hospitalised from COVID-19 and it may help stop some premiers closing their states every few weeks, but it is unlikely to reopen Australia to the world.  The government should be lining up Pfizer and Moderna vaccine contracts for delivery as soon as possible, even if for a second round.  In the meantime, we can have the AZN immunisation and if, having received mRNA vaccines, we have too many doses of the AZN vaccine,  we can give them to countries which are further behind in vaccination and less dependent on international travel.

Otherwise, expect not to visit your overseas friends, relatives or business connections until 2022 or maybe 2023. I will be happy if the government shows me that I am wrong by showing a plan.


Overseas Arrivals and Departures, Australia, October 2020 | Australian Bureau of Statistics (abs.gov.au)