While federal, state and territory leaders have made much of the fact Australia's vaccination program is finally hitting its straps, little is said about the danger posed by low immunisation rates overseas.
When the virus runs rampant in a largely unvaccinated population, as in India earlier this year and in Africa right now, it evolves at incredible speed, spinning off new and even more deadly variants.
The highly contagious Delta strain is proof of this.
While social distancing, lockdowns and border closures did a good job of containing the original strain in 2020, they have not been nearly as effective this time around.
The bad news is there is no reason to believe Delta will be the last, or even the most deadly, variant to reach our shores.
While Australia has been battling to bring its vaccination rates up to scratch so NSW, Victoria and the ACT can finally come out of lockdown, Africa's largely unvaccinated population has been inadvertently incubating new strains of the disease. One of these, the Beta variant (aka 501.V2 or B.1.351) originally identified in South Africa last December, is alarmingly resistant to some vaccines.
Beta is now being detected in other parts of the world. It, like Delta, has been listed as a "variant of concern". Scientists warn two other African "variants of interest", B.1.525 and A.23.1, should be treated as "variants of concern" until proven otherwise.
This is why it is crucial the world listens to, and acts upon, Wednesday's call by WHO director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus for global vaccine equity.
Dr Tedros joined a group of global health leaders in reiterating that the worst pandemic in the last 100 years would not end "unless and until there is genuine global co-operation on vaccine supply and access".
"The longer vaccine inequity persists, the more the virus will keep circulating and changing, the longer the social and economic disruption will continue, and the higher the chances that more variants will emerge that render vaccines less effective," he said.
It is unacceptable that while more than 5.7 billion vaccine doses have been administered globally, only 2 per cent were in Africa - where just 3.2 per cent of the continent's 1.2 billion people have been fully dosed.
While some over-60s in the ACT, NSW and Victoria moan about not having a choice between Pfizer and AstraZeneca, millions in Africa are desperate for any vaccine at all.
Or, as the director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr John Nkengasong, put it: "It was a great miracle to have these vaccines, now let this miracle be available to all mankind".
The WHO has called upon vaccine manufacturers to prioritise deliveries to COVAX and the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team, rather than continuing to favour the high-income countries that have tied up global supply for much of this year.
It also wants countries that have already achieved high coverage levels to swap their near-term vaccine deliveries with COVAX and AVAT. Australia, which is expected to be in this fortunate position early in 2022, has already benefited from such swap arrangements.
To "pay it forward" by lending a helping hand to unvaccinated billions would not only be the moral thing to do, it would also help prevent the emergence of new and deadlier variants. It is in our own self-interest and would make Australia safer in the long run.
Many Australians will be waiting with great interest to see which way this increasingly pragmatic and election-focused government jumps on this important question when it arises next year.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content: