Almost half of adult Australians ‘have recently had COVID’

People walk past Australia's landmark Opera House, usually packed with locals and tourists on Christmas Eve but now quiet due to COVID-19 concerns, in Sydney on Dec 24, 2020. (SAEED KHAN / AFP)

SINGAPORE / SYDNEY / MANILA / WELLINGTON – Nearly half of all adults in Australia show signs of having had COVID-19 within the past three to six months, according to a new national report.

The findings, released on Wednesday, revealed that by mid-June 46.2 percent of people aged 18 to 89 had caught the virus in the preceding months

The findings, released on Wednesday, revealed that by mid-June 46.2 percent of people aged 18 to 89 had caught the virus in the preceding months, a huge leap since the previous study in late February when about 17 percent of adults appeared to have recently been infected.

The study, overseen by the Kirby Institute at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) and the National Center for Immunisation Research and Surveillance (NCIRS), was done in collaboration with an array of institutions, including Australian Red Cross Lifeblood, the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, and the Institute of Clinical Pathology and Medical Research (ICPMR).

ALSO READ: Indonesia considers 2nd booster jab for healthcare workers

The screening, known as a serosurvey, examined about 5,140 samples from blood donors. The researchers were looking for two types of antibodies — one type, the anti-spike antibodies, indicating a person has been vaccinated or has built up some natural immunity to the virus due to community exposure, while the other antibody, the anti-nucleocapsid protein, indicating a person has had a recent COVID-19 infection.

The findings revealed young adults were the hardest hit, with 61.7 percent of 18 to 29-year-olds having evidence of a recent infection, in comparison to 25.7 percent of those aged 70 to 89.

Antibody prevalence was similar across the nation, even in states such as Western Australia (WA), which had avoided high case numbers throughout much of the pandemic.

Kirby Institute epidemiologist Dorothy Machalek said the serosurvey showed a shortcoming in basing COVID-19 statistics purely on the results of people who have tested positive.

The researchers noted the best protection against serious illness from COVID-19 was to be up to date with vaccinations and boosters, in line with current recommendations.

New Zealand

New Zealand recorded 8,730 new community cases of COVID-19, the Ministry of Health said on Wednesday.

There are now a total of 1,427 deaths confirmed as attributable to COVID-19, either as the underlying cause of death or as a contributing factor since the pandemic began in New Zealand, it said.

A total of 394 COVID-19 cases have recently traveled overseas, it added.

Currently, 808 COVID-19 patients are being treated in hospitals, including 25 in intensive care units or high dependency units.

Health workers conduct COVID-19 swab tests on residents at a village in Quezon City, the Philippines, on May 31, 2021. (AARON FAVILA / AP)


The Philippines reported 2,360 new COVID-19 infections on Tuesday, bringing the number of confirmed cases in the Southeast Asian country to 3,757,762.

The Department of Health (DOH) said the number of active cases rose slightly to 27,643, the highest since April 10. The death toll remained unchanged at 60,694.

"While the new Omicron subvariants are spreading, cases have been reported to be mild and can be allowed to heal at home," DOH Officer-In-Charge Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergerie said.

If the current trend continues, the DOH projects the country's new cases to hit over 19,000 by August 31. However, if the vaccination rate is improved, the number could hover between 6,000 to 8,000 by end-August.

A sign directs customers to the entrance and exit points at a market in Singapore, on Saturday, September 25, 2021. (BLOOMBERG)


Singapore reported 12,419 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, bringing the total tally to 1,677,126.

Of the new cases, 916 cases were detected through PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests and 11,503 through ART (antigen rapid test) tests, according to statistics released by the Ministry of Health.

Among the PCR cases, 878 were local transmissions and 38 imported cases. Among the ART cases with mild symptoms and assessed to be of low risk, there were 11,056 local transmissions and 447 imported cases, respectively.

A total of 727 cases are currently warded in hospitals, with 18 cases in intensive care units.

Four deaths were reported from COVID-19 on Tuesday, bringing the total death toll to 1,487, the ministry said.