As the vaccination is rolled out, as contact tracers in all states get really good at it and they are pretty much good at it now, then borders should lift internally. So my prediction is that by the middle of this year, we will have free travel with confidence internally in Australia.
When we will be able to fly internationally is really a difficult question and almost impossible to answer at this stage. It will depend on whether the vaccination levels in other countries bring down transmission so that there’s almost no virus circulating in those countries. Israel would be a good example of that. And it may be that we can create bubbles with certain countries where we’re sure that there’s no transit from other countries.
And so we might open up to Singapore, New Zealand, Taiwan, maybe Hong Kong, maybe places like Israel, but the transit places are really hard like Dubai and the Emirates for example, where there’s been a lot of virus and it’s not been well-documented. So I think that international travel is going to be very difficult. However, if 90 odd percent of Australians, that’s a big ask, are immunised, we are pretty much protected against new virus coming in. But if only 60% of us are immunised, then 40% of us are vulnerable, and that can create a very bad pandemic, because bad as Victoria was, you know, it’s still only 1%, far fewer than 1% in fact of the population have been infected with COVID-19. There’s a lotta people left to be infected so we could have a very bad pandemic if we’ve got not many people immunised.
And the other key to this, particularly with new variants are low-income countries being immunised. Until low-income countries are immunised, that’s where new variants are gonna come from, and it’s in our interests, both morally and in a public health sense to make sure that low-income countries are fully immunised and we’re giving them doses and giving them resources to be able to immunise on a large scale. That will protect us and allow international borders to open up.