'They will spread it': The major flaw in NSW's new reopening plan

As fully vaccinated Sydneysiders eagerly anticipate the rollback of lockdown restrictions come Monday, an expert has warned of a “confusing” flaw in NSW’s plan.

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet announced on Thursday the state would accelerate its path out of lockdown for vaccinated people after hitting a 70 per cent immunisation rate for people 16 and over.

Those who have received two jabs will next week be able to host 10 vaccinated people in their home and meet up with a group of 30 vaccinated people outdoors.

Outdoor ticketed events with a capacity of 3000 and nightclubs for seated patrons will open from 80 per cent double dose, which Mr Perrottet said will happen “very soon”.

Members of the public exercise at Bronte Beach, in Sydney, Monday. Source: AAP
Fully vaccinated Sydneysiders will be able to enjoy more freedoms come Monday. Source: AAP

Despite the new premier’s assurance the changes are “very sensible”, UNSW professor and epidemiologist MaryLouise McLaws insists not enough residents under the age of 40 are fully vaccinated.

“One of the issues that no government, no state government, let alone New South Wales — which is a real hot spot, or has been — has really understood, and that is the under 40 years of age represent the majority of cases, and therefore the majority of transmission,” she told ABC following the announcement.

In NSW, that is 69 per cent, Professor McLaws said.

“That's enormous. And that's the group that needs to reach 80 per cent,” she said.

“Now, at the moment, they've reached about 56 per cent double vaccinated - fantastic. But they need another two to three weeks to get to 80 per cent.”

UNSW professor and epidemiologist MaryLouise McLaws.
UNSW professor and epidemiologist MaryLouise McLaws insists not enough residents under the age of 40 are fully vaccinated. Source: ABC

According to data from the state’s health department, only 53.54 per cent of people aged between 20 and 24 are fully vaccinated, while almost 80 per cent have had one dose.

Of people aged 25 to 29, 55.66 per cent have had two doses, compared to 61.62 per cent for those aged 30 to 34 and 66.48 per cent for people aged between 35 and 39.

To close the gap, the amount of time between dose one and dose two of Pfizer needs to be shortened to 21-28 days, Professor McLaws said. It was extended earlier this year so more people could received their first dose.

Professor McLaws said 80 per cent vaccination should be the minimum for people under 40.

“In fact, I'd prefer it to be 90 per cent, which I know they will get because they're an amazing young group of people,” she said.

NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant speaks to the media during a press conference in Sydney, Sunday. Source: AAP
The new premier said all changes had been approved by NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant. Source: AAP

Real risk of infecting the unvaccinated

The epidemiologist and World Health Organisation (WHO) adviser said there were “still households that have mixed levels of vaccination” and she was concerned fully jabbed people could go out, catch a mild case of Covid and later transmit it to someone in their home who has not had their second jab yet.

“So, it's all very well and good to give all of these restriction lifts to those who are fully vaccinated,” she told ABC.

“I understand, particularly the young, need to get out, earn money and have some fun. But we still have mixed households.

“The danger is that the young will acquire it and spread it to the elderly.”

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