Vaccination take-up 'incredible': Hunt

Colin BrinsdenAAP
More than 32 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have now been administered in Australia.
Camera IconMore than 32 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have now been administered in Australia. Credit: AAP

Health Minister Greg Hunt says an "incredible" number of Australians have come forward to have the jab against COVID-19 as the country hit 32.5 million vaccination doses.

Over the course of the next week he said very important milestones are also likely to be reached nationally.

Australia is likely to pass the 85 per cent first dose mark for people aged 16 and above, and 70 per cent second dose.

"It is a very critical part of the roadmap being reached nationally," Mr Hunt told reporters in Canberra on Sunday.

NSW started easing restrictions last Monday, as did the ACT on Friday, while Victoria will emerge from lockdown from midnight on Thursday and earlier than previous predicted with the state set to hit the 70 per cent double-dose target.

After a slow start in the absence of vaccine supply, the rollout has quickly picked up speed.

Labor had previously proposed giving everyone $300 for getting vaccinated.

"Probably the time has passed for that in the sense that our vaccination rates are getting higher," Labor frontbencher Katy Gallagher told ABC's Insiders program.

"But there is no doubt financial incentives could have potentially, if we had the supply, got our vaccination rates higher faster, and that was always the aim of Labor's commitment."

Despite the promising figures, Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly again underlined the need for people to get vaccinated.

"We cannot rely on borders anymore," he told reporters on Sunday.

"The virus is here in Australia, we need to learn to live with it and we are learning to live with it. It means we need to be protected."

Professor Kelly also announced that, from midnight on Tuesday, the travel bubble between Australia and the South Island of New Zealand will reopen, having been closed when the Delta variant of the virus hit Australia's southeast.

He said there has not been in a case in the South Island since last year.

"There is very good work being done to stop people from the North Island going to the South Island, so that is not a risk," Prof Kelly said.

Mr Hunt said Australia has also secured supplies of two additional COVID-19 treatments.

The government has reached an agreement with Roche Products to receive 15,000 doses of the COVID-19 antibody-based therapy Ronapreve.

Mr Hunt said the intravenous treatment, given in the early stages of infection, provides a 70 per cent reduction in the likelihood of someone being hospitalised or dying from COVID-19.

"These doses are to be in Australia during the course of October and subject to TGA approval," he told reporters in Canberra on Sunday.

The government has also secured 500,000 courses of Pfizer's COVID-19 oral antiviral drug, which will be available in 2022 subject to Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) approval.

"This treatment, which is still undergoing clinical trials, is expected to help to reduce the severity or onset of illness in adults who contract, or have been exposed to, COVID-19," he said.

"They do not replace vaccinations."

Victoria recorded 1838 new local COVID-19 cases and seven deaths on Sunday, while in NSW there were 301 new infections and a further 10 people died from the virus.

The ACT recorded 33 new cases, while there were no new cases reported halfway through Tasmania's snap three-day lockdown.

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