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Lockdown lifesaver

Warren Kennedy, Mullumbimby

Sorry Peter Olsen I have not changed my mind regarding the appropriateness of lockdowns and other measures in this pandemic, because the evidence doesn’t support your argument.

Data does show there’s been a slight increase in deaths in 2020 over expected mortality but the number of deaths has been above average all year, not just since the start of the pandemic.

Catherine Bennett, the chair in epidemiology at Deakin University, noted that ‘our monthly increase in deaths compared with previous years is constant since January, and consistent with that expected with our annual population growth… and our ageing population.’

According to Professor Bennett, given Victoria’s population growth, the non-covid excess deaths in that state are ‘not a big discrepancy, especially when we do see some variation year to year’.

Yes, some doctors have opposed the lockdown in Victoria, just as some scientists deny anthropogenic climate change. There isn’t unanimity among doctors. But the weight of medical opinion clearly supports lockdowns, restriction of movement, and venue closures where there is active disease in the community.

This is not to deny that some people have been severely affected by lockdowns or that mental health is a concern. Some might even have died owing to what might be called ‘covid depression’ or through neglecting existing conditions; but their number is far fewer than the number of deaths which would have occurred had Australia ‘respected liberty’ like the United States has.

As I write, there have been 897 deaths owing to COVID-19 in Australia. If our death rate per million was as high as America’s by now, over 16,500 Australians would have succumbed to the virus and we’d still be experiencing increasing numbers of infections and deaths. There has not been anything like 15,600 extra non-covid deaths, so overall the measures taken have saved many lives.

Incidentally, if America had responded to the pandemic as well as Australia has their covid death toll would be around 11,800 now instead of almost 218,000.

The UK is experiencing a renewed spike owing to poor social distancing at reopened venues and is preparing for renewed lockdowns, and the Italian government has just mandated universal mask wearing in public because the virus is getting out of hand again. We can’t allow pandemic fatigue to lower our guard.

Is the minor, temporary restriction of our freedoms worth it? Hell yes!


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