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Byron Shire
January 29, 2023

Animal Farm revisited…

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Richard Gates

To say that the management of the current COVID-19 crisis is ‘a dogs’ breakfast’ is probably an understatement and some might say, an insult to dogs. But there is little doubt that the current Omicron outbreak is a confused mess created, not by dogs, but politicians who have clearly failed to think and plan ahead. They seem to have difficulty seeing the pandemic for what it is, a public health problem to be managed on the medical and psychological evidence rather than a political problem to be solved by short-term ideological intervention devoid of critical thought or sustaining fact.

Sure, the nature of the bug and its behaviour has changed with Omicron, and done so quick smart. However, that does not alter the fact that the problem continues to be a public health issue, which requires not only nimble and appropriately targeted responses but forward thinking so we are not caught, as we are at present, with inadequate testing regimes and supply, and ‘about-faces’ in the way a ‘close contact’ is defined to accommodate, or as some might say – to try and hide, poor decision-making.

Changing the criterion from 15 minutes of exposure to four hours, for a highly transmissible version of the bug, to force staff to get back to work because of a critical labour shortage might improve an already straining staff situation, but this is short-termism with consequences obviously not thought through. If the consequences have been thought through, the nation has certainly been kept in the dark. Where is the evidence that this will not make the problem worse? You cannot put lipstick on a pig to cover the fact that it is a pig. And if you do, much of the population is now sufficiently cynical or sceptical or politically worn out, take your choice of words, that they can see the airborne pig and the pollies’ attempts to disguise what’s happening with weasel words, for the cover-up or failed political strategy/ philosophy that it is.

Let it rip!

The problem is made worse by the fact that both the NSW and federal political bosses are seeing the current pandemic primarily as an economic problem that will be resolved by passing the management buck to us as individuals. But more than that they are giving the bug the opportunity to basically do as it pleases through their ‘let it rip’ social-Darwinian pseudo-scientific view of the world made up of ‘winners and losers’.

The NSW Health Minister has made this view clear with his throwaway line ‘we are all going to get it’ – with the unspoken implication: ‘So let it rip’.

Yes, we all hear the repetitive, patronising, after-the-fact words from our political masters about getting vaccinated and getting a booster jab and latterly (after the horse has well and truly bolted), wear a mask and socially distance, but the underlying theme is HERD IMMUNITY NOW. No thought to exhausted resources and waiting lines and depleted supplies and the poor bloody frontline workers who have to deal with not only their own health risks but risk and abuse from the tired and frustrated population.

Learning lessons

Critically, no thought has been given to looking at what we have learned from other nasty diseases such as HIV, which in the early years was a death sentence. HIV can now be managed with new medications and behaviour change strategies. It is no longer the terminal Grim Reaper it once was. But it took a while to get there. And at no stage do I recall a ‘let it rip’ philosophy dominating the political narrative and management strategy.

We know that a lot of research is being put into non-Trump-endorsed treatments for COVID-19 and into stratification of patient populations so that management can be targeted. A ‘let it rip’ philosophy gives little time for such development. It is as if the ‘human cost’ doesn’t matter, when surely human life is ‘the bottom line’. And it is not just about saving lives but also preventing legacy effects of having had the dreaded disease associated with ‘long haul’ COVID. Can you imagine having to live with brain fog and chronic fatigue for the rest of your life, knowing that it might have been prevented? And what will [the swelling ranks of long-COVID] do for the economy?

Political failure

The current COVID-19 crisis reflects poorly on the political leadership of our country; It demonstrates their failure to review critically the politico-economic lens through which they see this crisis and to which they are clearly captive. It shows up their failure to take account of the growing mountain of scientific evidence about the disease and the lessons to be learned from it. Instead our ‘leaders’ have continued with their compulsion to politically ‘spin’ the situation, when transparency would be best for rebuilding trust in leadership, and they have failed to count human life as ‘the bottom line’.

Please stop patronising us, give us the facts and put in place good public health policy with appropriate resources to match.


 

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7 COMMENTS

  1. We, the human species are in crisis and so are all dogs.
    The management of the COVID virus presented to us by the government is a dog’s breakfast.
    Is that an understatement? If so I will restate it. Look at the state we are in? The worst state we have been in.
    If only we could get to WA but it is a long way.
    There is no doubt that the current Omicron outbreak is a confused mess created, not by dogs, but politicians who have failed to think and plan ahead.
    The pandemic is what it is, a public health problem to be managed on the evidence of medical and psychological science..
    It is not a political problem to be solved by short-term political manipulation of the people of Australia.

  2. Domicron Perrottet, Scomicron Morrison and Not my Glad, please take a bow for the Covid Catastrophe that you have delivered not only to NSW but to Australia. From the Ruby Princess ( that initially exported Covid Alpha around Australia ) all the way to now, King Covid could not have wished for anything better from clowns pretending to be political leaders. Let’s never forget ScottyfromMarketing back in 2020 proudly waving high above his head a glossy brochure, his Pandemic Emergency Plan, We didn’t get to see what was inside ‘The Plan’ – blank pages? How has it come to this, where our Dom Dom and ScottyfromMarketing think that continually changing definitions and rules on the run, to mask the worsening Covid Catastrophe, is somehow going to fool us into pretending that Covid doesn’t exist. The economy that they worship is in freefall, the health system is collapsing – elective surgeries cancelled, public hospital patients being transferred to private hospitals and our fantastic health staff are almost at their end. It is instructive that NSW no longer mentions in the daily Covid Deaths how many are ‘vaccinated’ and how many are ‘unvaccinated’ deceased. It used to be their big distinction but not any more, it just another Covid data set that has been junked for political purposes. The “Let it Rip” mentality of Dom Dom and Scotty is criminal. Scotty only thinks about “the economy that we all live in” and Dom Dom is there as Soptty’s right hand man. Memo to Dom Dom and Scotty, you can’t have a healthy economy unless you have a healthy population that has confidence and trust in Leaders that truly believe in the common good that is Public Health during a pandemic.

  3. In addition to these well spoken points, the idea of a herd immunity is a fallacy. There is no evidence that herd immunity can be developed to a Coronavirus and ample evidence otherwise showing up over decades. No herd immunity develops to the common cold coronaviruses. Influenza also does not develop herd immunity and mutates to require new vaccines every season. Trillion of variants will be created as we continue to breed the virus, just waiting for a chance under selective pressure to strut their stuff. Of the 5 variants that so far have overtaken the world 4 seemed more contagious and deadly. Omicron, while less deadly after infection, is much more contagious, and it still may kill more people that any of the others. Nothing stops the next variant from being again more deadly.

    The NSW government, along with many other governments have advocated and released a giant gain-of-function experiment, breeding mutations under selective pressure in incompletely vaccinated populations with every chance of creating a nastier variant. The percentage of people vaccinated does not represent our vaccination status, because it must be multiplied by the decay curve of the vaccination effectiveness, which for many or most people decays to half in just months and to 1/8 soon after. The immunity brought by being infected with COVID generally decays even faster than immunity brought by vaccination – a factor, along with variants, in the absence of herd immunity. Carelessly succumbing to the “mild variant” and “herd immunity” narratives may have severe consequences accumulated over time across society, health systems and economies.

    • Hi Paul, the matter of ‘herd immunity’ is a complex one often discussed in the medical literature. It seems it very much depends on how you define the term with some medical folks saying that you achieve herd immunity when a certain percentage of the population is fully vaccinated against the bug or have had an exposure to the virus to prevent spread. Rarely is there discussion of the immunity decay process although it is inherent in the annual vaccination against ‘flu’ bugs in public health policy. The pollie-think on this issue seems to be that if everyone is either vaccinated or gets the bug we don’t have to worry anymore but the evidence would suggest otherwise with the clear decay function for immunity you mention being problematic for any concept of the herd developing an immunity forever. I agree with your comment that “succumbing to mild variant and herd immunity narratives may have severe consequences……..” We ain’t out of the woods by any means and it is disturbing that our dear leaders seem to have such a poor grasp of the issues at hand. Thanks for your contribution to the discussion. Richard

  4. Let it rip & herd immunity. What’s a ‘leader’ to do? Salesmen of this ilk are short
    on the numbers & weak at the knees when there’s no more hands left to ‘shake.’

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