Snap lockdowns essential for now: Treasury

Josh Frydenberg says there'll be long, costly lockdowns until 70 per cent of people are vaccinated.
Josh Frydenberg says there'll be long, costly lockdowns until 70 per cent of people are vaccinated.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has warned until 70 per cent of Australians are vaccinated, it is an economic imperative that governments move fast to get on top of coronavirus cases.

"If they don't, we see lengthier and more severe lockdowns which have a much more significant economic cost," he told reporters in Canberra on Tuesday.

The treasurer was providing a briefing on Treasury's modelling in conjunction with that of the Doherty Institute, which has set vaccination levels of 70 and 80 per cent to lessen the need for lockdowns and free-up state and international borders.

Treasury found that at 50 and 60 per cent vaccination rates, it is five times more costly to the economy should governments not move early to get on top of the virus, and instead they should move quickly to contain an outbreak.

"That's the short, sharp lockdowns that we're now seeing in Queensland, that we've seen in Victoria and that we've seen in South Australia," Mr Frydenberg said.

He didn't mention NSW that remains in lengthy lockdown until at least August 28.

Treasury's analysis also found that the economic cost to the country of managing COVID-19 comes down as vaccination rates go up.

At 50 per cent vaccination rates, if governments are getting on top of those early cases, it is costing the economy $570 million a week, while at 60 per cent it is still costing $430 million a week.

But at a 70 per cent vaccination rate that cost comes down to $200 million a week, and at 80 per cent the cost is $140 million a week.

Australian Associated Press