In no good very bad news, Victoria’s anti-vax protests have officially been linked to a number of COVID-19 cases, including three hospitalisations.

According to the state’s health department, 39 COVID-19 cases have been linked back to protests in November.

The info is particularly concerning given another wave of anti-vaxxer protests in response to the state’s new pandemic laws, which came into effect on December 2.

The new law essentially allows the premier and health minister to declare a pandemic and enforce restrictions to deal with it. Predictably, it’s led to some anti-vaxxers going batshit, including levelling violent threats at Premier Dan Andrews.

According to the ABC, thousands of protesters flocked to Melbourne’s CBD on Saturday December 4 to protest both the bill and vaccine mandates. At the moment, the anti-vax protests show few signs of stopping, which is concerning given their potential link to increased COVID cases.

The most recent COVID update for Victoria saw the state report 1,383 locally acquired cases. The numbers have led to some people questioning why Victoria’s cases are higher than other states, in particular NSW.

NSW’s most recent COVID-19 update saw 325 new locally acquired cases – almost a thousand less than Victoria’s.

Matt Hopcraft, an associate professor at the University of Melbourne told the ABC it was largely to do with when Victoria left lockdown.

Hopcraft said: “Clearly we’ve had a reduction in cases here in Victoria from where we were at the peak, and New South Wales saw the same.

“I think the fundamental thing that we’re seeing is we reopened at a much higher number of cases. When they reopened, they were at a lower number of cases.”

Deakin University’s chair of epidemiology Catherine Bennett also told the ABC that Victoria’s cases were far more spread out than NSW’s.

“We don’t have a particular outbreak that we need to focus on and contain in Victoria, it’s actually been quite widespread and that’s been a bit more of a challenge,” she explained.

Of the cases definitively linked to protests, 14 people are reported to have attended a gathering while they were infectious and 22 were thought to have contracted COVID while at a protest.

Even more frustratingly, 32 extra cases have been indirectly linked to the protests, according to News.com.au. These are mostly assumed to have been spread from protest attendees to their families or while socialising.

Only one of the 39 people who caught COVID-19 cases at a protest was fully-vaccinated – which is probably to be expected from an anti-vaccine-slash-anti-lockdown rally.

In the good news, though Victoria’s currently clocking in at a double vaccination rate of 91% (woo!). So, despite the continued anti-vax protests, that’s definitely something to celebrate.