Infectious Diseases Physician Peter Collignon says it can’t be definitely surmised the UK strain of the COVID-19 virus is more virulent or aggressive than other strains, the way sensationalised media headlines have suggested. Three people in Perth’s hotel quarantine tested positive for the strain, which suggests that it would remain in Australia’s quarantine system as long as it continued to receive passengers from the UK. “I don’t think we can be absolutely definite yet that it is much worse than other strains. It is the predominant strain in the UK and it does seem to spread faster there but so far in the Netherlands and Germany and in the US… it’s not really galloping,” he said. “It’ll be another month before we really know, but overall, I wouldn’t be as concerned as the headlines make it out to be.” Mr Collignon said he believed it would be “too stringent” to revoke entry into Australia for returning travellers from the UK. “So far, the data out of England doesn’t show this is galloping in other places where it was introduced even a month ago in some places of Europe,” he said. “It does look like it probably spreads a bit more. It isn’t as lethal as far as we can tell. Mr Collignon backed the Morrison government’s decision to maintain the March rollout date of the COVID-19 vaccine, stating the delay ensured Australia was able to ascertain greater data as to the efficacy of the vaccines and any potential side-effects. “The benefit for us is we’ll have more data before we roll it out to tens of millions of people,” he said. “These vaccines, so far, have been given emergency approval in the US and Europe because they have an emergency with uncontrolled spread, so they’re taking short cuts that we don’t have to do in Australia. “We’ve got the advantage that many millions of people in the US, in Canada, in Europe will be vaccinated and if there are any rare side-effects that we’re unaware of, we’ll be able to see that and make a more balanced view of the benefits versus the risks.”


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