A range of technical terms (eradication, elimination, control) with specific meanings have been misused during the pandemic, causing confusion among the community and decision-makers. “Elimination” does not mean outbreaks of COVID-19 will never occur; it means that sustained, ongoing outbreaks with high rates of illness and death can be prevented. We have achieved elimination of measles and polio through vaccination in Australia, but still have occasional outbreaks of measles. It will be possible to do the same for SARS-CoV-2 with the use of boosters and/or vaccinations matched to Delta or other variants, supported by other measures outlined in this document. The economy will fare better when COVID-19 is well controlled.
We believe the best possible outcome for Australia is a measles-like situation, in which occasional outbreaks occur because of imported infections, but sustained community transmission is prevented because a high enough proportion of people has vaccine-induced immunity, and our lives can continue normally. This is what “elimination” means. We believe it is achievable with booster vaccinations or vaccines that are matched to Delta or other variants.