And as we heard earlier this hour, a decision on a bid for a purpose-built quarantine facility sounds imminent in Victoria. Let’s go live to Professor Brendan Crabb. He’s the director and CEO of Medical Research Institute, the Burnet Institute, also chair of Pacific Friends of Global Health. Professor Krab, thanks very much for your time. How significant would it be for us to finally get that expanded fit for purpose quarantine facility outside of the hotel system?
Well, it’d be fantastic because the political system is leaky. We’ve had 18 leaks in the last six months throughout Australia and the main reason for that is that hotels aren’t fit for purpose. To your point, the secondary reason is that we’ve taken a while to recognize that the virus transmits through the air and that’s why hotels don’t work so well. So, look, it is fabulous to have a purpose-built facility, but I will say that it needs to be still a national solution somehow because a fantastic facility in Victoria would not have prevented this outbreak, for example, from South Australia.
I wouldn’t have presented the one at a Christmas that came from New South Wales. So it’s got to be a national solution.
Do you think that the hotel quarantine component still has to play a part?
Yes, I do think hotel quarantine has to play a part. And now that we understand what’s going wrong with it, we certainly understand what’s going on right with it, which is most things. But what’s going wrong is this airborne transmission where the virus goes into the corridor from an infected person’s room into the corridor and infects another person, for example, in the other room. And this is probably what happened in Adelaide a few weeks back. So understanding that we can set some guidelines that minimize that happening.
So there’s every reason to think hotels have a future, but they’re unlikely to be anything like as good as Howard Springs. But we’ve got to act on hotels from today.
Now on the vaccination rollout, what’s your assessment of where things are at more than a million jobs in 10 days? Are you more encouraged about the trajectory of the vaccine rollout right now?
Well, if there’s a silver lining to Melbourne’s scare and let’s just hope it is a scare and is dealt with without a significant outbreak, it’s that people have been woken up, people and governments. All of us really need to take responsibility. We got pretty comfortable with where we are at. And it took this outbreak to realize that we weren’t vaccinating as though our lives depend on it. But in fact, our lives do depend on it. And certainly, the lives of our parents and grandparents depend on it.
So, yes, I’m very pleased with where things are heading now. The attitude is great. And, you know, we have a sovereign supply of vaccines, as well as quite a bit, coming in. So I think Australia’s you, after a shaky start, is going to do well.
We saw overnight Professor Krab, the Kovács summit hosted by the Japanese government in a bid to help less well-off nations get the vaccinations they need. Bill Gates addressed the summit. I want to play a little of it and get your reaction to it. Have a look.
Even as the United States and Europe seem to be turning the corner, other countries are experiencing their highest peaks. There are two immediate actions. Countries can take share dollars and doses. We need governments to contribute their fair share to after agencies and fill the financing gap in twenty twenty-one. Also, high-income countries have reserved more vaccines than they need without compromising their own domestic vaccination efforts. These countries can be part of an effort to accelerate global vaccine access by sharing these excess doses.
Professor Krab developed nations stepping up to the challenge. We saw the Morrison government I received a news release this today just a few hours ago, in fact, saying that it’s committing an additional 50 million dollars to that Kovács facility. Is that welcome? Is it enough?
It’s definitely worth a couple of 50 million contributions from the Morrison government overnight adds to an already 80 million contribution to that same mechanism, this funding pool for vaccines for the developing world. And on top of that, another six hundred and twenty million to the region to get them vaccinated. These are earlier announcements. So, Martin, the government has actually been pretty good right from the word go, I’ve got to say on this, very aware of the need to vaccinate the wider world.
But, you know, the wider world isn’t doing enough yet. One point three percent of the vaccinations happened in the world’s poorest countries. The rest have happened in the richer countries. And that’s not only immoral and unethical to consign those people to such suffering, but it also isn’t good for ourselves. You know, it’s not over for us. The current pandemic isn’t over for us when we’re all vaccinated. It’s only over for us when there’s no serious threat to viruses coming in from the rest of the world.
No new variants evolving in these countries. So it’s a very welcome step. What the contribution last night means collectively, not just Australians, but collectively, that 30 percent of the world’s poorest 92 countries will get the vaccine this year or early into next year. That’s an amazing step forward and very, very welcome. And so it’s great. Australia is doing their bit, but we’ve got more to do. In my view. This is as important as our own vaccine rollout.
I know that sounds a big statement, but but really, we don’t defeat this unless the world defeats it. And so we have to do our bit.
Well, exactly, in terms of trade, in terms of travel, in terms of those variants, there are so many different reasons why it’s not to mention the moral question there’s so.
That’s right. I mean, the humanitarian reason is exactly the humanitarian reason is one reason, but it’s a straight, hard investment as well. Just as you’ve mentioned, none of those things can really get back to normal or even close to it until the pandemics and the big decline around the world and vaccines are central to that. You know, it’s understandable how it happens. Rich countries are the ones that invest and make the vaccines. And you need pharmaceutical companies to do it.
It’s costly. They carry risk. We just have to find ways of getting vaccines to countries and to people who can’t afford them. And this is a great step forward toward doing that.