Chief Midwifery and Nursing Officer, Professor Alison McMillan's interview on ABC Melbourne, 8 February

Read the transcript of Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer, Professor Alison McMillan's interview on ABC Melbourne on 8 February 2021 about coronavirus (COVID-19).

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ALISON MCMILLAN: I don't think it's a problem. There are national standards, there are principles that were developed by AHPPC now some time ago. But sometimes, you need to have- adapt those principles to suit the circumstances and the location of hotels and use systems. So we need the jurisdictions to be able to do that to suit their way of doing business, but staying true to those principles that everyone has signed up to through National Cabinet.

RAFAEL EPSTEIN: Just on vaccines. The South African Government is pausing the rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine. That's the one that we will soon be making here through the CSL laboratories. There's some concern that the strain that first popped up in South Africa, it might be able to get through the AstraZeneca vaccine a bit more than previous strains. Should people in Australia be concerned?

ALISON MCMILLAN: No, Raf, I don't think there should be concerns. So we spoke about this this morning when we get together on a Monday morning, and both Brendan Murphy and the Chief Medical Officer, Paul Kelly, have reemphasised that there is no evidence to this point to indicate that AstraZeneca, or the Pfizer, is not very effective against severe disease and death. And that's where we're focussing at the moment on our vaccine program, preventing the severe disease and death, therefore not overwhelming our health system. We will know in time better how it might affect more mild disease and the transmission, whether it has an impact. But right now, that's the evidence I'm working to, because that's what the experts are telling us.

RAFAEL EPSTEIN: Do you think it'll stop the transmission of the virus in the second half of the year, the combination of vaccines that we will have access to? Are we going to stop giving it to each other, do you think, in the second half of the year?

ALISON MCMILLAN: I think we're going to wait and see what the evidence tells us. We can see across the world that numbers are- the speed of spread is slowing. So that's positive. But what's causing that is that every- so many countries are now in lockdown. Is it what we’re getting to see an impact of the vaccines? Over time, we’ll understand it better. And that will help us see does it reduce transmission? Yet to be proven.

RAFAEL EPSTEIN: The Education Minister [sic], Dan Tehan, was saying probably international tourist back to normal, maybe this time next year. Is that a possibility?

ALISON MCMILLAN: Oh, I do look forward to being able to travel overseas again and for people to visit us here. But I think we need to wait and see. I think we can all hope, and we know how important it is to our economy. But our priority is keeping Australia safe and we have done so well so far.

RAFAEL EPSTEIN: I’ll just try this once more. Is 12 months into we're back to normal travel, is that within the range of possibility?

ALISON MCMILLAN: I'm not going to be drawn on the time or a space. I think if we were to reflect back a year, it's hard to predict anything anymore, Raf. We can hope. But I don't think that we can yet make any firm predictions.

RAFAEL EPSTEIN: Thank you for your time. Thank you for your work as well.

ALISON MCMILLAN: Thank you. Thanks, Raf. Bye.

RAFAEL EPSTEIN: Alison McMillan is the Federal Government's Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer. You can hear that she's part of the infection control group. She's part of the – gosh, am I going to remember what it stands for? Probably not – AHPPC. But all the Chief Medical and Health Officers that get together on that phone conference each day and try to keep us safe. She's a significant part of that conversation.


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