Premiers have begun debating acceptable deaths while living with COVID-19 as a federal-state brawl over children's vaccinations is set to come to a head at national cabinet on Friday.
Premiers and chief ministers will be briefed on new modelling advice from the Doherty Institute, including on vaccinating children under 12, quarantine updates from Jane Halton and South Australia's home quarantine trial, and public health measures from Health Department secretary Brendan Murphy.
The discussion will turn to the transition plan.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk doubled down on her concerns about unvaccinated children, but Australia's chief medical officer Paul Kelly assured that children are still less severely affected than adults.
Just three out of 3 out of 3815 children aged under 12 infected with the Delta strain of COVID-19 in Australia have had severe illness, Professor Kelly said.
"My message is if you are a parent, particularly a parent of a younger child, get vaccinated. This is the way you can protect yourself and protect your children."
Health Minister Greg Hunt slammed the Queensland Premier for saying the Doherty Institute modelling showed that even with 70 per cent of the population vaccinated deaths could be as high as 80 per day six months after the outbreak.
"Selectively misusing the Doherty modelling breaches good faith and damages public confidence," he told reporters on Thursday.
But Premier Palaszczuk did not back away, reiterating demands for modelling on Covid's impact in the cohort.
If NSW is the model of what lies in store for all of us, then serious discussions are needed.— Annastacia Palaszczuk (@AnnastaciaMP) September 2, 2021
Doherty Institute modelling predicts, even with 70% of the population vaccinated, 80 people will die each day six months after the outbreak.
That’s 2,240 who will die each month.
Queensland may restore some restrictions lifted in recent weeks after a truck driver crossing from the NSW border tested positive after five days in the state, sparking new exposure sites. While the NSW government is contemplating easing restrictions despite new daily cases remaining in the thousands and seven new deaths.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian said "people will die" but Australia must accept it will never eliminate the virus.
"We can't pretend that we're separate nations within one nation," she said.
NSW became the first jurisdiction to reach 70 per cent of over-16s having had one dose of the vaccine, as efforts to spreading the use of existing doses in Victoria to maximise coverage means both Pfizer and AstraZeneca doses are now administered six weeks apart.
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Victorian Premier Dan Andrews spoke directly with Prime Minister Scott Morrison this week but remained concerned that the Commonwealth was encouraging unrealistic freedoms.
"It's really frustrating that reporting of this generally is just regurgitating what certain federal politicians are saying, suggests that 70 per cent is Freedom Day - it's not, it can't be."
New analysis from the Australia Institute's Richard Denniss noted that Doherty modellers could not be blamed for not anticipating the NSW government would do "such a bad job" at controlling an outbreak.
"But you can blame politicians and business leaders who are using the Doherty modelling to justify opening interstate travel when the modelling provides no clear evidence that it would be safe to do so."
Simplified assumptions in the model does not make it a bad model, he said, but using a model that assumes a problem cannot arise to affirm the lack of a problem was bad.
"Their modelling is based on a hypothetical national outbreak that is evenly spread across Australia, but the question that state premiers and the Prime Minister are now facing is what should the COVID-zero states do?
"It might be inconvenient to say this, but the Doherty modelling simply doesn't help answer that question."
A little over 36 per cent of over-16s across the country are now fully vaccinated. More than 330,000 doses were administered in the latest 24-hour snapshot, bringing the total to more than 20 million dose.
On Thursday the TGA advised of two more extremely rare blood-clotting deaths linked to AstraZeneca doses.
It comes as the TGA and the National COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce urged against acquiring or self-administering the horse medicine ivermectin.
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