While Australia has spent the majority of 2021 Covid-free, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has warned that trend would drastically change if the nation was to throw open its borders.
Despite the nation's well-publicised failures surrounding its vaccine rollout, the federal government is pressing on with the program that will ultimately allow its international border to reopen, but the prime minister stressed the country is not ready to open up just yet.
"If we were to lift the borders and people were to come, then you would see those cases increase," he told 6PR radio.
"Australians would have to become used to dealing with a thousand cases a week or more."
Mr Morrison said the most vulnerable of our nation, the elderly and health care workers, would be vaccinated.
"But I don't think Australians, particularly Western Australians, would welcome restrictions and closures, and border shutting again," he said.
He added states and territories would need to get on the same page about acceptable virus levels when travel restarts, and the vaccine becomes the first line of defence against Covid-19.
Senior government minister Simon Birmingham said experts were still looking at how reopening could work in line with the vaccine rollout.
While the vaccines reduce the risk of serious health consequences from coronavirus, there is a lack of evidence that indicates whether the vaccine reduces the rate of transmission.
"So somebody who is vaccinated could still get COVID – the odds are they won't get sick – but could they pass it on to somebody else who may not have been vaccinated," Senator Birmingham told Sky news on Friday.
"Those questions and analysis around transmission are a live piece of work happening around the world at present."
Australia's border unlikely to open before 2022
The federal government's dumped timetable, which had pencilled October in for the rollout of first jabs, means Australia's border is unlikely to reopen before 2022.
More than 1.3 million people have been vaccinated since the program started in February. Initial federal government plans had targeted 4 million by the end of March.
The government will also have to consider the possibility of Australians needing a third Pfizer jab, after the company's boss predicted that would be the case to maintain protection against the virus.
Following the emergence of a rare blood-clotting side-effect linked to Australia's main vaccine, the AstraZeneca jab, Mr Morrison confirmed a further 20 million doses of Pfizer had been acquired.
However unlike Australia's other 20 million doses, they will not be available until at least October.
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