The COVID-19 Booster: Hope for curve flattening as another 112,000 new cases reported this week

Australia’s second summer waves looks likely to persist into Christmas, although this week’s COVID-19 case reporting provides hope the curve is flattening.

Collectively, states and territories reported 112,219 new cases in the last week – less than 1% more than the preceding week’s total of 111,454, noting the true number is likely higher due to lower levels of RAT result submissions from the public. 

New South Wales (40,695), Tasmania (4045) and the Northern Territory (831) all reported similar figures to the prior week, while Victoria’s total (24,652) was 3,000 less than the week prior.

Western Australia also saw its case reporting lowered by 759 on the week prior, with a total of 11624 cases.

South Australia exceeded 10,000 weekly cases for the first time since August (10,754), while the ACT (3,018) jumped 400 cases on the previous week.

COVID-19 by the numbers

News in brief

PCR testing remains free in Australia despite earlier change

Despite earlier declarations by the Australian Government that referrals would be required for people to obtain a PCR test in the new year, they will remain free and broadly accessible from January 1. A fact sheet issued by the federal health department says “PCR tests remain free for everyone who needs them” and that “priority populations” can access these through state testing sites. Others can obtain tests from GP-led respiratory clinics.

COVID-19 virus can affect vision and depth perception

Infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus could negatively impact optic nerves, a study from Griffith University has found.

The research published in Nature Communications this week has used animal models to study the influence of the virus that causes COVID-19 on mammalian vision and found both nasal and respiratory tract infection can lead to problems.

“The virus can infect the eye through nerve tissues at the back of the eye that play a role in the visual aspects of the eye and sending signals for visual purposes,” says Professor Suresh Mahalingam, who co-leads the study. “The result of this retinal inflammation was a reduction in depth perception due to blurred vision.”

Lost your taste and smell during COVID-19? You may have more antibodies in your system

Research from Columbia University published in PLOS ONE has found the loss of taste or smell during COVID-19 infection is a marker for increased post-illness antibody levels. The study reviewed blood samples of 300 people infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus in the first years of the pandemic, among which 60 percent reported changes to their taste and smell. Although further analysis has been recommended by the researchers, the levels of Immunoglobulin-G in blood samples – an antibody produced to fight the infection – suggests a “robust immunologic response”.

Longer reads

Death Toll from COVID-19 almost three times higher than reported number: WHO

The World Health Organization estimates the COVID-19 pandemic caused around 15 million excess deaths across 2020 and 2021. It comes as estimates from the Actuaries Institute put the number of excess deaths in Australia for the first eight months of 2022 at more than 8,000.

Read more by Matthew Agius

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