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News & Trends - Pharmaceuticals

Clinicians join Pfizer in the call for action against rising COVID-19 cases and influenza threat

Health Industry Hub | June 9, 2023 |

Pharma News: A recent research survey conducted has unveiled a concerning trend among Australians regarding their perception of COVID-19. The study found that an overwhelming majority, approximately 74%, now consider the risk of COVID-19 to be the ‘new normal,’ likening it to the seasonal flu within a year’s time. This shift in mindset comes as Australia continues to grapple with over 38,000 weekly cases and the looming threat of a potential fifth wave of the virus.

The COVID Community Sentiment Index has been regularly commissioned by Pfizer Australia to gauge public sentiment towards the ongoing pandemic. The latest findings shed light on the concerns of older Australians, with a staggering 77% of those aged 60 and above believing that COVID-19 will continue to impact their lives in the foreseeable future. Furthermore, nearly half of them, 47%, expressed concerns about the emergence of new variants and their potential impact. Despite these worries, the survey also revealed a concerning lack of awareness among this age group, as 3 in 5 individuals were unaware of their eligibility for anti-viral medicines in the event of testing positive for COVID-19.

Dr Krishan Thiru, Medical Director of Pfizer Australia, emphasized the importance of early discussions with healthcare professionals for older individuals. He stressed the need to evaluate the suitability of oral anti-viral medicines based on individual health needs and to develop a comprehensive plan in the event of a positive COVID-19 test.

Interestingly, compared to a year ago, the survey results indicated a decline in COVID-safe behaviours among Australians. Over 36% of respondents stated that they were now less likely to get tested for COVID-19 when experiencing symptoms, while more than 2 in 5 individuals, 43%, expressed reduced inclination to consult their General Practitioner (GP) upon testing positive for the virus. These figures represent an increase compared to the data collected in November 2022. Furthermore, the survey revealed that 23% and 25% of individuals at higher risk of severe illness were less likely to test or see a GP, respectively, when experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.

Highlighting the interconnectedness of society in the face of these challenges, Professor Robert Booy, an Infectious Diseases Specialist from the University of Sydney, emphasised the need for collective action. He said “This year there is a real risk of a triple wave of influenza, COVID-19 and other viruses impacting our communities and those at higher risk of severe illness.”

He urged individuals to stay up to date with booster vaccinations, adhere to COVID-safe behaviours such as mask-wearing, hand sanitisation, and social distancing, get tested if feeling unwell, and determine eligibility for oral anti-viral medicines, particularly as the colder season approaches.

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) echoed these concerns, urging people to get COVID-19 boosters and flu shots as infection rates surge and complacency sets in. Over 16.5 million Australians have not received a COVID-19 booster shot in over six months, according to recent reports.

AMA President, Professor Steve Robson, expressed deep concern over the situation, stating that Australia is currently facing a worrisome fifth wave of COVID-19. With cases skyrocketing to an average of 5,517 per day as of May 30, more than double the rate from March, hospitalisations and COVID-19-related deaths have also surged, reaching triple figures on a weekly basis.

Compounding the effects of the ongoing COVID-19 wave, Australia is also witnessing a rise in influenza cases. The Department of Health and Aged Care reported a staggering 17,277 flu cases between May 15 and 28, more than double the previous fortnight’s total. Professor Robson highlighted the need for simultaneous COVID-19 boosters and flu shots, assuring the public that these vaccines can be safely administered together. This combined approach would provide crucial protection against both viruses, especially for vulnerable populations such as the elderly and immunocompromised individuals.

The call to action from medical experts and organisations like Pfizer Australia serves as a reminder that the battle against these viruses is far from over. Only through collective efforts and a commitment to staying informed and protected can Australians navigate these challenging times and emerge stronger on the other side.

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