NSW COVID cases grow by 3057, two deaths recorded

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NSW has recorded 3057 new COVID-19 cases, an increase from 2501 on Monday, as federal and state governments prepare to discuss changes to the vaccine booster program.

There are 284 people in hospital, compared to 261 on Monday. Of this number, 39 are in ICU compared to 33 on Monday. Two people died with the virus.

Drivers queue for COVID tests at Fairfield in Sydney’s west. Credit:Wolter Peeters

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard is pushing the federal government to fast-track the COVID vaccination booster program, saying "people should still be eligible from the four-month mark".

The Prime Minister will discuss the issue with state and territory leaders at a national cabinet meeting on Wednesday.

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) last week advised the booster shot interval should remain at five months since the second dose, despite pressure to reduce the timeframe.

Doherty Institute director Sharon Lewin said governments needed to make booster shots easier to access.

"Certainly you get much better immunity after your third dose," she told the ABC on Tuesday morning.

"We're weighing all of these things up. We are learning from overseas the booster dose gives you that additional protection against Omicron that we want. These are difficult decisions being weighed up by all the best evidence available and availability of vaccines and that may well change the current recommendation of five months, it may well change in coming days."

University of South Australia epidemiologist Adrian Esterman said ATAGI was “too conservative” and older Australians who got the AstraZeneca vaccine have limited protection now their vaccine effectiveness has waned.

Another issue on the agenda at the national cabinet meeting will be considering whether to move the goalposts and change the definition of "fully vaccinated" to include three doses.

Meanwhile, Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly has written to premiers and chief ministers to advise that “masks should be mandated in all indoor settings including retail, hospitality when not eating or drinking, and entertainment facilities”.

With Dana Daniel, Lucy Carroll and Timna Jacks

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