Key lessons from the COVID-19 public health response in Australia


JM Basseal, CM Bennett, P Collignon, BJ Currie, DN Durrheim, J Leask, ES McBryde, P McIntyre, FM Russell, DW Smith, TC Sorrell, BJ Marais

Lancet Regional Health Western Pacific, published online 10 October 2022. DOI:

Australia avoided the worst effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, but still experienced many negative impacts. Reflecting on lessons from Australia’s public health response, an Australian expert panel composed of relevant discipline experts identified the following key lessons: 1) movement restrictions were effective, but their implementation requires careful consideration of adverse impacts, 2) disease modelling was valuable, but its limitations should be acknowledged, 3) the absence of timely national data requires re-assessment of national surveillance structures, 4) the utility of advanced pathogen genomics and novel vaccine technology was clearly demonstrated, 5) decision-making that is evidence informed and consultative is essential to maintain trust, 6) major system weaknesses in the residential aged-care sector require fixing, 7) adequate infection prevention and control frameworks are critically important, 8) the interests and needs of young people should not be compromised, 9) epidemics should be recognised as a ‘standing threat’, 10) regional and global solidarity is important. It should be acknowledged that we were unable to capture all relevant nuances and context specific differences. However, the intent of this review of Australia’s public health response is to critically reflect on key lessons learnt and to encourage constructive national discussion in countries across the Western Pacific Region.