Royal Commission into pandemic response essential

The health, social and economic impact of COVID-19 in Australia has been significant, with bungled quarantine, inconsistent border management policies and a failed mass vaccination program. 

Scientists had warned for decades that with increased global connectivity, condensed living arrangements, and increased human movement (airplane, train and cruise ship travel), the likelihood of a novel virus causing a global pandemic was not a matter of if, but when. With climate change also becoming a dominant factor, as well as the rise of antibiotic resistance bacteria, Australia and the world face potentially significant future health challenges if we are not prepared.

A Royal Commission will not only identify failures, but solutions and successes in our response to ensure we are better prepared for future health challenges. 

Dr Roger Yazbek, Democrats Health Team Leader

We would expect a Royal Commission into Australia’s pandemic response to include (although not exclusively): 

1Quarantine – Explicitly, did Australia adequately plan and resource state quarantine facilities, and could we have done better to stop quarantine breaches? 
2Vaccination – Why did we only secure an agreement with AstraZeneca/CSL. Why did we not engage with other vaccine manufacturers to boost supply? Why was there no comprehensive plan and campaign to ensure rapid vaccine uptake by the population? 
3Vaccine manufacturing – Why had Australia not previously invested in advanced vaccine manufacturing infrastructure? Given the knowledge that mRNA vaccines were in the pipeline in May and June 2020, why did Australia not pour money into establishing local manufacturing capacity for this vaccine type? 

A Royal Commission should consider: 

– Construction of onshore quarantine facilities 

– Establishing an Australian Centre for Disease Control 

– Investing in local advanced vaccine manufacturing capacity 

– Increasing and safeguarding the scientific workforce to support rapid response to health challenges (i.e. test development, vaccine development, drug development, care protocols etc), and 

– Improving preventative health measures through pro-active health education campaigns 

– Staffing of aged care facilities, and training of care staff to ensure they are prepared to deal with such health challenges 

See here for our Pandemic response action plan

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