Is there a link between the admission of COVID-19 booster shots and hospitalization and deaths? The numbers are certainly suggestive.
As of Wednesday, June 1, Queensland has the country’s lowest booster rate: 63.1 percent of people have had three or more doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.
The highest booster rate is in Western Australia, at 83.3 percent.
And the relative impact of those booster rates?
When the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) examined the impact of boosters on hospitalizations and deaths in an internal report in April, it noted: “Queensland has about twice as many people as Western Australia, but the overall death rate is five and a half times higher.”
Looking more broadly, the report found that when the Omicron wave came through the eastern states where the booster program began, the number of cases, hospitalizations, serious illnesses, and deaths were significantly higher than in WA, “where booster rates were already high.” starts at the time of Omicron.”
That comment was made by Dr. Lucas de Toca, who heads the federal government’s primary care response to the pandemic.
Intensive care rates low in WA
Professor Catherine Bennett, Deakin University Chair of Epidemiology, told the RACGP that comparisons were difficult to make because of the different ways numbers were recorded and because states have had varying degrees of success “in capturing the true number of COVID-19 cases.”
Still, despite the escalation in cases, she was impressed by the low number of people in WA ending up in intensive care.
‘What has been reassuring to me all along is that the rates in the ICU (intensive care) [in WA] are very low…although the number of cases has risen,” said Professor Bennett.
She described this result as “quite extraordinary”.
“No one knew (the variant) BA.2 was coming, but it turns out that boosters are more effective than we’d hoped they would be against it.”
COVID hospitalizations and boosters
Dr. Chris Moy of the AMA says the evidence that boosters make a difference is in hospital admissions.
“We have 3000 people in the hospital every day. If you look at who has the highest hospital rates, it’s clear they have the lowest booster rates,” he told news gear.
New South Wales has the second lowest booster intake: 67.3 percent of people have had three or more doses.
With its larger population – 8.186 million – you would expect NSW to have more hospitalizations.
Looking at the number of hospital admissions since March, as shown in a chart at www.covid19data.com.au, NSW sits two to four times higher than Victoria, with a population of 6.643 million.
In other words, NSW had had many more hospitalizations during the Omicron wave – when the booster program had started – far out of proportion to Victorian hospital admissions.
How to explain this? Victoria’s vaccination rate is significantly higher: 72.3 percent of the population has received three or more doses.
At its peak, on April 27, NSW had 1,743 people hospitalized. Victoria had 456.
So why booster’s low shooting speed?
More than a third of Australians have not had a COVID-19 booster shot.
We did well with two doses (94.78 percent of eligible Australians) but didn’t come close with boosters (62.44 percent nationally).
Dr. Moy said: “There is no complicated reason. It’s just complacency. We’re a little overwhelmed with the idea that COVID is over. That’s why we’re calling on the government to refocus on COVID… Now that the elections are over, they might start talking about COVID again.”
The good doctor advises: ‘We rush headlong into winter. Take a booster. Get a flu vaccine. Wear masks indoors (supermarkets, etc.), and we need to get more kids vaccinated.”
This will increase our chances of protecting our hospitals from overrun when this seemingly aggressive flu season begins.