Opening borders early is the “gambler’s option”
Grattan Institute modelling shows it would be dangerous for Australia to open up its international borders before at least 80 per cent of the population is vaccinated.
The model simulates the spread of COVID-19 within a partially vaccinated population using hospitalisation and intensive care unit (ICU) admission rates from more than a year of COVID-19 data from Australian ICU units.
It found the only scenario out of 12 where the virus is managed, with hospitalisations and deaths kept down to reasonable levels, is when at least 80 per cent of the population is vaccinated.
The authors of the study describe scenarios with a 70 or 75 per cent vaccination rate as the “optimist’s and gambler’s scenarios”.
“Opening the borders is a one-shot gamble: if you make the wrong call, the virus will quickly spread and all the good work and hard yards of living through lockdowns over the previous two years will have been wasted,” said Stephen Duckett, Director of the Grattan Institute’s Health and Aged Care Program.
“The difference in virus spread, hospitalisations and deaths between opening at 75 per cent and at 80 per cent are big, but the wait between the two thresholds may only be a month or two. This is why we recommend an 80 per cent vaccination rate as the threshold for opening up.”