Delta Coronavirus Variant Infects All Unvaccinated Guests At Australian Birthday Party

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A Covid-19 superspreader birthday party has been reported by Australian public health authorities where 24 of 30 guests were infected with the highly-transmissible Delta SARS-CoV2 coronavirus variant. Six fully-vaccinated healthcare workers were also in attendance and so far, none of them have tested positive for the virus.

The party took place in the West Hoxton area of the capital Sydney on June 19th, just a couple of days after a community case of the virus was found in the city. At the time, no restrictions on gatherings were in place and only a handful of cases had been reported in Sydney, after an airport limousine driver had become the first domestic case reported in the country for several weeks after transporting international airline crew.

In addition to the 24 people who contracted the virus at the party, a further 7 cases have now been linked to the party as of Monday, many of them household contacts of the party attendees. Overall, the outbreak is now at 131 cases and climbing, with 5 million Sydney residents currently under a ‘stay-at-home’ order in an attempt to curb the spread. Other cases in the outbreak have been linked to restaurants, a shopping mall and a food distributor. Several other Australian provinces and jurisdictions have also introduced restrictions after cases linked to the Sydney outbreak were detected around the country.

Australia has been hailed as one of the most successful countries in the world at controlling the Covid-19 pandemic to date, thanks to competent contact tracing strategy and tight border control. It has reported just over 30,000 cases and 910 deaths and after initial, aggressive lockdowns, many Australians have been able to enjoy something approximating ‘normal’ life for much of the last year. However, unlike the United States and other countries such as Canada and the U.K., Australia has not quickly procured Covid-19 vaccines and as such currently has less than 5% of its population fully vaccinated and around 25% of people partially vaccinated.

The superspreader event is a poignant example of two things; the significantly enhanced transmissibility of the Delta variant and the impressive protection of Covid-19 vaccines. Despite significant evidence of safety and efficacy, plus high availability of vaccines in the U.S., many states are struggling to achieve high vaccination rates, leading to fears that rising levels of the Delta variant will spark off a new wave of Covid-19 infections. CNN recently reported that just 46.1% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated against Covid-19, but in the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Wyoming are particularly susceptible to a Delta outbreak, all having less than 35% of their population fully vaccinated.

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