Television interview with Professor Paul Kelly on The Today Show - Monday 7th November 2022

Read the transcript of the television interview with Chief Medical Office, Professor Paul Kelly on Covid 19 and OMICRON.

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General public

AMELIA ADAMS, CO-HOST: Welcome back. COVID is fading into a distant memory but new variants are circulating and case numbers, we're told, are on the rise.

DAVID CAMPBELL, CO-HOST: Yeah. We are joined by chief medical officer Professor Paul Kelly in Canberra. Professor, good to see you again. I mean, it's not news we really want to hear. We're hearing about these new sub variants. Is this serious?

PROFESSOR PAUL KELLY, CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER: So there certainly are new variants around, these are kind of the grandchildren Omicron. It's still Omicron that we first saw about a year ago. And we've got very high hybrid immunity at the moment to that particular strain of COVID.

This is slightly different. They’re a bit more transmissible as we've heard throughout this year. And we have seen an increase in cases, not so much where you are at the moment in Queensland, but all of the other states have seen a rise over the last week or so and some of the other things we're watching as well, like wastewater testing, furloughing of staff in health care facilities and aged care. These are these are the measures we set up a month ago to have this very good surveillance system to make sure we knew what was changing. And those new variants are a change. They are more transmissible, but not more severe.

ADAMS: But Professor, given most of us are vaccinated, some people have had even three shots, David’s had about 12. How much of a threat is there really? Given the high vaccination rate in the community?

KELLY: So that's a very important point. We have this high hybrid immunity from vaccination and previous infection. So that will protect us against that more severe end of the spectrum of disease. And that will continue even with these new variants, in my view.

But we will see more transmission. We will see infections. And so now is the time to really consider if you are up to date with that vaccine. If you haven't had your third one yet and we're all eligible for a third one, if you haven't had that fourth one for those over 30 that are eligible for a fourth dose, now is the time to go and get that. That will protect you more. And we do have slightly modified vaccines now with the with the B one strain as well as the original strain of the virus. And so that's a good idea.

If you're in the group that might be more susceptible to severe infection, people over the age of 70, people over the age of 50 with risk factors, now is the time to make sure you know where to get those antiviral medications. That will be really important for you.

CAMPBELL: All right, Professor, we'll leave it there. Thank you so much for your time this morning.


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