A top infectious diseases expert has predicted Covid will haunt Australians for years but says the worst is behind us with the virus soon to be treated like the flu.
Professor Peter Collignon, from ANU Medical School, told 3AW that Australia is in 'a much better position than we were a year ago'.
The professor said that due to the efficacy of Covid vaccines, fewer people were dying or being hospitalised with the Omicron variant despite high infection rates.
'Are we out of the woods? No we're not. Is this all going to go away, no it's not, but the consequences for individuals and for society are a lot less than a year ago,' he said.
Professor Peter Collignon, from ANU Medical School, told 3AW radio host Neil Mitchell that Australia is in 'a much better position than we were a year ago' (pictured, people in Sydney)
The professor said due to the efficacy of Covid vaccines less people were dying or being hospitalised despite high infection rates (pictured, a pop-up Covid clinic in Melbourne's north)
He stated it was 'much, much less likely' people will get sick and die from Covid than a year ago due to high uptake of vaccines and stronger immune systems.
'We've decreased our chances of dying by a factor of 20 and hospitalisation by at least a factor of 10, but it's not zero, so this problem doesn't go away,' he said.
The professor predicted like any other respiratory virus, cases would suffer an uptick in winter during the months of June, July and August.
'We may have to live with more restrictions in winter than in summer,' he said.
'I don't think it will be as bad as the Omicron wave we've just seen, but I'll be surprised if we don't see a kick-up in cases and hospitalisations.
'I’m hoping it’s no worse than a bad flu season.'
The professor said the vast majority of those vulnerable - notably people aged over 60 - would have had three doses of the vaccine by then.
'We may have to live with more restrictions in winter than in summer,' Professor Collignon (pictured) said as cases kicked-up in June, July and August
Prof. Collignon added cases would also increase as students returned to classrooms, triggered by more people gathering and higher rates of testing (pictured, people at Bondi)
Prof. Collignon added cases would also increase as students returned to classrooms, triggered by more people gathering and higher testing rates.
He said those infected with Omicron would probably have a 'broader range' of immunity for new variants that hit Australian shores in the future.
Host Neil Mitchell asked the professor if the dark days were over and if