There are growing concerns youth are at a greater risk of serious Covid-19 complications, with a man in his 20s becoming the latest casualty in the Sydney outbreak.
Leading New South Wales University epidemiologist Mary-Louise McLaws warned New Zealand “needs to listen very carefully” to other nations, like the UK, deal with the Delta variant.
“They’ve given us an enormous hint that anyone 24 and younger is carrying the greatest burden of Delta.
“You can see the trend and it’s getting young.”
While initial reports from the United Kingdom’s outbreak suggest children aren’t more infectious than adults, they are “now the victims”.
McLaws noted that both New Zealand and Australia had opted for a “compassionate” rollout by vaccinating the elderly first, but says it has left young people at a greater risk.
“This is where New Zealand, our beloved neighbours, need to listen up. Open the vaccine out to everybody and don’t leave young people until right at the end.”
Currently, under the Ministry of Health’s rollout plan, those aged between 16 and 35 aren’t likely to receive their Covid-19 vaccine until October - the last group to do so.
Last month, Medsafe gave provisional approval of the Pfizer jab for children aged 12 to 15 but they are yet to be added to the rollout.
“Both Australia and New Zealand used the compassionate rollout, however, we could’ve been doing two big ideas or come out and change the rollout,” McLaws told Breakfast.
Yesterday, the Government reached the two million mark for the number of Kiwis vaccinated while opening the vaccine up to those aged 55 and over from Friday.
The UK announced today it was expanding its vaccine rollout to include people aged 16 and 17 while other European countries like France and Germany are already vaccinating children as young as 12.
There's also concern New Zealanders are quickly becomming complacent, having not reported a case of community transmission since February.
The number of people using the Ministry of Health's Covid Tracer app has plummeted to levels not seen since before the Delta variant scare in Wellington weeks ago.
McLaws said Kiwis need to get used to scanning, especially when it comes to the highly-infectious strain.
“If the authorities are trying to chase a bolting horse, they need to do it fast."