The prime minister and medical director have spoken after a model made for the national cabinet that predicted 200,000 coronavirus cases per day in the new year was leaked to the media.
The leaked model that claims Australia could record up to 200,000 coronavirus cases each day in late January or early February has been called “highly misleading” by the country’s top medical expert and “completely unlikely” by the Prime Minister.
The Doherty Institute model predicted the exorbitant number of daily infections amid the threat of the Omicron variant, declining vaccine protection, and state and territory leaders promise to live with the virus through low-to-medium restrictions.
The spike in cases could see hospitalizations hit 4,000 a day and between 8,000 and 10,000 COVID-positive patients admitted to the ICU during the wave, the model that was leaked to the Sydney Morning Herald also claims.
But Morrison called for calm Wednesday morning, telling Sunrise the screenings are an “extreme case scenario.”
“I just want to assure people that the model that has been reported is a very unlikely extreme case scenario that assumes that nobody does anything, nobody gets reinforcements, there are no changes happening, that nobody exercises common sense,” he said. .
“We saw similar numbers at the beginning of the COVID pandemic that they never realized.”
The model was prepared ahead of Wednesday’s national cabinet meeting, where boosters and the Omicron variant will be on the agenda.
Professor Paul Kelly, medical director, also cautioned against taking the model literally, as it represents the “worst case” of all potential scenarios.
“I wish to address selective and misleading media reporting on ongoing modeling used to inform decision-making by governments,” he said in a statement Tuesday night.
“While modeling is an important tool to help guide decision making, it is just one of a variety of tools and cannot be viewed in isolation. Modeling helps prepare for all scenarios and mitigate the risk associated with the pandemic.
“A preliminary scenario, many of which is considered to help inform decision making, presents one of the worst cases of all potential scenarios, including assumptions that the Omicron variant is as severe as the Delta variant, a absence of hospital response capacity, a very limited reinforcement program, no change in reference social and public health measures, and an absence of spontaneous behavior change due to the increase in the number of cases.
“None of these five assumptions represents the probable state of events, much less all together, so presenting that scenario as the probable scenario that will occur is very misleading.”
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Professor Kelly said Australia has a world-class COVID-19 response and the numbers modeled towards the start of the pandemic “have not been realized.”
The model’s release was also criticized by former Australian Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Nick Coatsworth.
“Whoever leaked Doherty’s modeling without context has done a great injustice to the Australian people,” he tweeted Wednesday morning.
The national cabinet meeting comes as state leaders pressure the Commonwealth to accelerate the COVID-19 booster program.
The Australians are currently eligible for their booster five months after rolling up their sleeves for the second jab.
The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunization is also reportedly considering whether three doses of COVID-19 are needed to be considered fully vaccinated against the virus.
The prime minister announced the last-minute national cabinet meeting, which he called “informal”, on Monday.
The national cabinet was not to meet again until February 2022.