Too early to say the virus has reached its peak: Mark Butler



Federal Health Secretary Mark Butler says it’s too early to say whether the peak of the current COVID-19 wave has passed, following a slight drop in cases.

As Prime Minister Anthony Albanese prepares to meet with state and area leaders in the national cabinet on Thursday morning to discuss the virus, Mr Butler said he was optimistic the number of infections would continue to decline.

“We don’t call” [the end of the peak] yet. There’s what we’ve seen through the pandemic, something of a school holiday effect, where transmission seems to be decreasing,” he told the Nine Network.

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“It seems that the number of cases is declining in some states, and the number of hospitals has declined in recent weeks, [but] they are still very large.”

Mr. Albanian will join his state and territory counterparts via a video link on Thursday, where they will be updated on pandemic and monkeypox responses by Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly.

Federal Agriculture Secretary Andrew Metcalfe will also provide a briefing on foot-and-mouth disease.

The meeting comes a day after the Australian vaccine advisory group ATAGI approved the Moderna vaccine for children between six months and five years of age.

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However, the vaccine is only recommended for children who are immunocompromised or who have complex or multiple health conditions.

It is estimated that 70,000 children in this age group will be eligible for the vaccine.

Mr Butler said there would be enough vaccine doses for children to meet demand, with 500,000 ordered.

“We will be one of the first countries in the world… to secure this brand new vaccine and start rolling it out in September to protect some of our youngest and most vulnerable children,” he said.

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Mr Butler said ATAGI would continue to monitor the situation with COVID infections in children.

He said it was too early to determine whether the vaccine rollout should be extended to all children in the age bracket.

“[ATAGI] will continue to monitor and… consider the data that will come out of the larger vaccination programs for this age group in the US and Canada in particular.”

Opinion published by ATAGI says there is a “very low risk” of COVID-19 in healthy children under the age of five.