Health data underlines coronavirus a ‘disease of the unvaccinated’

COVID-19 and its dangerous variants have been described by one of Australia's leading doctors as a "disease of the unvaccinated".

The declaration by Dr Mark Nicholls, vice president of the Australian and New Zealand Intensive Care Society, appears backed up the latest New South Wales Health data, which revealed just one per cent of all local cases in the state since March this year have been people who are fully vaccinated.

In the five months since March, only 16 of 2121 locally acquired cases have reported being fully vaccinated. And just four per cent of overseas acquired COVID-19 cases reported being fully vaccinated prior to arrival in Australia.

Australia has ordered 25 million doses of the Moderna vaccine, which are expected to be in the country by the middle of September.

READ MORE: Coronavirus case confirmed in Byron Bay, as Sydney man breaks lockdown to travel

"Vaccination is critical to this," Dr Nicholls told Today.

"This is the disease of the unvaccinated. The more people we get vaccinated, the better for the community."

That same drumbeat – calling for people to get vaccinated – is repeated daily by the premiers and their health chiefs at state COVID-19 briefings, and the Scott Morrison government.

Dr Nicholls said real-time data from a national ICU research centre in Monash underlined how COVID-19 was almost an exclusively deadly risk to the unvaccinated.

"There's been 175 patients admitted to intensive care this year across the country," he said.

"Of the 175, 168 were not vaccinated. The remaining eight patients had one dose. There's been no patients in intensive care who have been fully vaccinated."

READ MORE: Four new cases in Queensland as driver infection linked to pilot

Greater Sydney is entering its seventh week of lockdown after an unvaccinated limo driver in his 60s, from Bondi in Sydney's east, was patient zero in the ongoing Delta outbreak.

The driver did not wear a mask while shuttling international air crew from high-risk countries to and from the airport.

In Queensland, an unvaccinated taxi driver in his 60s is now in the middle of a COVID-19 scare in Cairns, which is one day into a snap three-day lockdown.

The Cairns taxi driver, who was infectious in the community for 10 days, including days when he would pick up 20-30 rides, caught the virus from a marine pilot who helps guide international ships through waters off the Queensland coast.

A Sydney man who broke lockdown rules by travelling to Byron Bay in late July is now in hospital with the virus, triggering alerts in the northern rivers region and placing the area at risk of lockdown.

Queensland most hesitant in country, study finds

Research released last month from University of Melbourne found vaccine hesitancy rates were highest in Queensland, with almost one in three adults deemed hesitant.

With 14.6 per cent, NSW was least hesitant in the country, followed by Western Australia on 21 per cent and Victoria on 23 per cent.

The study found 11.8 per cent of Australian adults remain unwilling to get vaccinated.

Australia has set a target of at least 70 per cent of the population to be fully vaccinated to begin loosening a variety of restrictions, including the prospect of international travel.

Outbreaks are changing some people's minds about getting vaccinated, the study found, especially in NSW.

Just three months ago, 32.9 per cent of NSW residents were categorised as hesitant.

But that number has now dropped to 14 per cent, seven weeks into a grinding lockdown which has killed 29 people and shows little sign of abating.

Even during outbreaks, researchers found that high rates of vaccine hesitancy persist amongst those aged 18-44 (28.8%) and those in Queensland (30.9%).

READ MORE: Everything you need to know about the Moderna vaccine

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