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Millions of Australians could become infected and tens of thousands hospitalised with COVID-19 if we reopened Australia and let the virus run wild with 70% of the population vaccinated.

The national cabinet plan, released on Friday, would have Australia slowly reopen once 70% of over-16s are vaccinated. That's 56% of the population. With no extra measures such as mask-wearing and social distancing, modelling by mathematician and Monash university adjunct professor Michael Georgeff shows cases would increase to 5 million and 27,000 deaths over time if the population received only the AstraZeneca vaccine. Other models show similar surges. Even with extra precautions, case numbers would reach massive peaks.

But high cases are something the vaccinated world will have to get used to. Instead it will have to focus on hospitalisations and case severity as a marker for success.