Why experts say Western Australia will 'need' a Delta outbreak to open up

·3-min read

Infectious disease experts have slammed Mark McGowan's plan to open Western Australia's borders, saying the premier is "hoping that everywhere else in Australia will do the work for him".

The WA premier released the long-awaited roadmap to Covid normal on Friday, setting the ambitious target of vaccinating 90 per cent of WA's over 12s population; a number some experts warn could be difficult to achieve. 

He urged people to go and get vaccinated for the sake of their families and for the good of the community.

Some even went as far to suggest WA —who has not hesitated in slamming its borders shut in response to eastern states' Covid outbreaks — needed a 'Delta scare' to accelerate jabs.

WA Premier Mark McGowan. Source: Getty
WA's premier set an ambitious target that will see the state's border open. Source: Getty

"WA 12+ coverage is 1st/2nd 78% and 63%," infectious disease expert Greg Dore from the Kirby Institute, UNSW Sydney tweeted following the announcement.

"Very long way from 90% fully vaccinated. Expect they’ll need a Delta outbreak to get there in reasonable time frame—otherwise could drag on & on & on."

'Stringing us along'

Other health experts chimed in, including WA based infectious disease expert Clay Golledge from Infections West, who labelled the announcement: "A plan that really is no plan at all."

"He's just stringing us along hoping that everywhere else in Australia will do the work for him," Mr Golledge tweeted.

According to Operation Covid Shield data, WA has 65.4 per cent of its eligible population 16 years and over fully vaccinated, while 79.9 per cent have had one jab.

Screenshot of tweet.
Infectious disease experts say the vaccination target is still a while away. Source: Twitter

The premier expects 80 per cent of WA's eligible population to be fully vaccinated by sometime in December, saying after the 80 per cent goal is reached he will set "a specific date for transition".

"It's intended for border controls to ease at a point where there is no community transmission in Western Australia, combined with very, very high levels of vaccination," Mr McGowan told reporters on Friday.

"Some time in the first half of December we'll hit 80 per cent double-dose vaccination, and we'll know exactly when — or we think we will know exactly when — we will hit the 90 per cent double-dose vaccination rate," he said.

Infectious Disease experts slammed the decision. Source: Twitter
Infectious disease experts slammed the decision. Source: Twitter

"That will allow us to open up to New South Wales and Victoria and the ACT. It will also allow us to open international borders, subject to all those restrictions I put in place before.

"Once we set that date, it will be locked in. It will be locked in."

Questions raised if 90 per cent isn't achieved 

However, Mr McGowan avoided answering the question of what happens if WA doesn't reach the 90 per cent target, saying "further health social measures" would be put in place but didn't specify what they would be.

"If we don't, on that date reach the 90 per cent double-dose vaccination, that means there will be further public health social measures put in place.

"So, that would mean restrictions on venues, restrictions on workplaces, restrictions when it comes to masks, all those sorts of things that we're desperately trying to avoid."

Do you have a story tip? Email: newsroomau@yahoonews.com.

You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Twitter and download the Yahoo News app from the App Store or Google Play.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting