Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and COVID-19: A tale of two strains

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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders recognised the threat of COVID-19 early and took several steps to protect their communities, with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander COVID-19 Advisory Group working with Government to inform many responses. These early efforts were highly successful in keeping COVID-19 out during the first 18 months of the pandemic and up to June 2021, there were only 153 cases in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population with a rate of infection 6 times lower than non-Indigenous Australians.

However, the Delta strain has had a significant impact on communities in NSW, ACT and Victoria. There have been over 3,500 infections with a rate of infection twice that of the non-Indigenous population. Concerningly, the community remains at significant risk of severe disease due to lower vaccination coverage than the non-Indigenous population. 

This talk will cover the leadership from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the steps taken to protect communities, the challenges in the vaccine roll-out and what further needs to be done to protect the community as Australia opens up.