More than 16,000 people would have died if Australia had a coronavirus outbreak similar to the levels experienced in England and Wales, new modelling shows.
The research, published in an article in the Medical Journal of Australia on Monday, used mortality data at the peak of the COVID-19 outbreak in March and April to calculate the number of excess lives that would have been lost if Australia’s coronavirus outbreak was widespread as in the UK.
The modelling calculated that there would have been an extra 16,313 deaths in Australia.
This would have been made up of 9295 men and 7018 women.
But instead, by May 24, there had been 103 COVID-19 attributed deaths in Australia.
Dr Fiona Stanaway, a clinical epidemiologist at the University of Sydney, and her colleagues wrote that the “enormous difference” showed the importance and effectiveness of the way Australia responded to the pandemic.
“This enormous difference underlies the importance of Australia’s response using a combination of extensive testing and contact tracing, mandatory quarantine of people returning from overseas, and shutdowns to control community transmission,” the article wrote.
“While acknowledging that these measures carry with them substantial social and economic harms, we wish to highlight the scale of the loss of life avoided.”
The article said that the Australian rate of COVID-deaths was15 to 20 times lower than that observed in countries across Europe and America.
“However, as the second wave in Melbourne has shown, it is important not to become complacent,” the article said.
The UK has recorded 42,350 cases where people died after contracting coronavirus. Of that number 37,606 of those occurred in England, and 1,630 in Wales.
In Australia, 894 people have died from COVID-19 complications since the start of the pandemic.