Two-thirds of Aussies are covid-complacent

4 minute read

An average of more than 15,500 covid cases are being reported every day in Australia but a survey says most of us aren’t too worried.

Doctors can play an important role in helping to reduce covid complacency in Australia, says GP and 2022 Young Australian of the Year Dr Daniel Nour.

Recent research has shown nearly two-thirds of Aussies are complacent about the risks of infection despite the country being in the grip of a fourth covid wave. And many are not even testing, reporting a confirmed covid infection or talking to their doctor about it.

“It baffles me that people may not even get tested, and if they do get tested, they won’t tell their GP,” said Dr Nour.

A quantitative research survey conducted by Pfizer Australia showed that compared to a year ago, nearly two-thirds (60%) of Australians believed the worst of the pandemic was over, with a similar number being less concerned about the impact of covid in their community.

Around half felt less concerned about their personal risk of serious illness and slightly more than half thought others around them, including family, friends and work colleagues were also less concerned about their personal risk.

Dr Nour, founder of Streetside Medics, said he was especially concerned about people’s attitudes towards testing for covid and seeking advice from their doctor.

The survey found 35% of people were less likely to test for covid when they experienced symptoms, 36% were less likely to consult their GP if they tested positive, and 18% of those at higher risk of severe illness were less likely to test or see a doctor if they experienced symptoms.

“That’s just wild to me, you’d like to think that it would be the opposite,” he said.

“I think people are sick of hearing about covid, I think people are tired, and they just want to move on.

“As a doctor and a human and a fellow Australian, I can understand that. I can sympathise with that. And I want us all to move on and not to live afraid, but still to remain cautious and to be vigilant.”

Dr Nour said GPs could play an important role in reducing covid complacency by talking to their patients about vaccination and preparing for the use of antivirals if an eligible patient tested positive.

“I’m sure there is a population out there who are high risk who could be managed at home with the benefit of antivirals,” he said.

“And that may prevent them from deteriorating further and needing a hospital admission. Preparation and knowledge are key here [for GPs] and being aware of the eligibility requirements.”

Dr Nour said returning to a more normal way of living was not necessarily a bad thing, as a lot of the anxiety around covid had abated.

“It means people can take a big breath and realise that we have come through this, but it isn’t over and we can’t lose our vigilance and we can’t let our guard down,” he said.

“Covid can lead to a serious infection, which can lead to serious illness, hospitalisation and death, and we need to remain vigilant.”

University of Sydney infectious diseases specialist, Professor Robert Booy, also warned against complacency during the current wave.

“Recent federal government data has shown covid 19 still poses a very real risk to the health of our communities as we move into a new wave of infections, specifically to those at higher risk of serious illness,” he said.

“The fact that one in three Australians are less likely to test for covid 19 when they experience symptoms or consult their GP if they test positive compared to a year ago is of concern. Testing earlier means people can seek medical advice sooner and can access anti-viral medicines faster if they are eligible.”

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