‘COVID stable’? Only in the Augean sense


So what happens next year?  The current resurgence of COVID-19 in the northern hemisphere as its winter approaches should be sounding alarms in Australia.  It is obvious the virus will continue to pose a threat to public health here until mid-2022 at the earliest.  Even if a viable vaccine is discovered in the next three months, it will take at the least another two years for sufficient quantities to be manufactured and distributed to inoculate much of Australia’s population.

What do the federal and state governments therefore propose doing?  Our political leaders talk of the COVID-19 pandemic as if it is much like heavy flooding, a run of bushfires or sudden drought, another nasty but one-off seasonal event that will not extend into 2021. After that, the COVID-19 situation will recede to some sort of manageable stability and we can all get on with it once more.

That mistaken assumption underpinned Australia’s entire federal Budget delivered this past week: things will soon be stable again, the Treasurer’s confident speech ran, so communities can settle into rebuilding with the government assisting in getting people back on their feet.  Bizarrely, the state governments, the federal Opposition, and the entire media have gone along with that naïve narrative.  They accept that next year people will back working again.

The week of the Budget started with the US President hospitalised because he had contracted COVID-19, which continues to spread around the world; and that week ended with the Victorian Parliament extending its ongoing State of Emergency by another month, with no end to that situation in sight.  Both were treated as disconnected news items, because across Australia political leaders and bureaucrats beneath them pressed the false message that the virus will have settled down next year.

Barry Jones, the former federal minister for science, used to say that the scientific ignorance of our politicians would be the undoing of this country.  And we have seen this taking place in some of the zany statements and predictions about medical science (has anyone kept a tally of the number of “awesome” and “game changing” research breakthroughs?).  If that cant hasn’t been bad enough, there is the evident lack of planning for a pandemic by state public servants.  Each medical facility from large hospitals down to suburban GP’s surgeries is required by law to have an epidemic policy in place, which is ready to be used if needed.  Preparation is compulsory, which is why those organisations eased into gear so quickly.  But some state governments were quite unprepared, not even for quarantining incoming international travellers who were potentially infected—which the judicial inquiry in Victoria has appallingly revealed.

As for the current situation, already the emerging pattern overseas shows that far from going away like a season of bad weather, the virus stays within a community.  That is how viruses behave.  We’ve seen this with Hepatitus C, HIV and AIDS, which didn’t just disappear and may break out again if we don’t take care.  Likewise, the indicators suggest COVID-19 will be poised for a resurgence in Australia next April, especially in the larger capital cities.

But there has been no talk of what our ‘new norm’ will be for the foreseeable future—that is, until a vaccine is developed and becomes widely available.

Must Australia endure next year a repeat of the lockdowns, border closures, and repressive regulations introduced over winter 2020?  Will businesses be forcibly shuttered come late March?  Will employees who have been stood down yet again have to be put on government support?  Will public servants get to stay at home doing nothing on full pay for months on end?  Indeed, might regulations be ratcheted up with power-addicted health bureaucrats inventing more arbitary rules purportedly to contain inevitable outbreaks?

As a Melburnian I’d like to know if this major metropolis will revert to a police-state once again, with roadblocks, curfews, public buildings and schools shuttered, heavy travel restrictions, identity checks in parklands, and all citizens placed in effective home detention (as well as the Premier’s use of meetings with shonky minutes, and blame shifting, to control subordinates), if the city can’t achieve the Premier’s targeted infection rate of one case or less per million people each day?  Because in a city of over five million that’s what his benchmark of a maximum five new infections a day amounts to.

Which way to the Star Chamber, comrade?

28 thoughts on “‘COVID stable’? Only in the Augean sense

  • Stephen Due says:

    Anyone wanting ‘the science’ of this virus should look no further than Sweden. There it is. Case closed. Open the borders. Get rid of totalitarian China-style lockdowns, which are based purely on ignorance and fear. Restore the liberty of the Australian people.

    When asked recently for advice on the risks facing nations from the current pandemic Johan Giesecke, the Swedish epidemiologist, said: “There is a threat to democracy: strong people have seized power in many countries and may not yield it.”

    Prolonged lockdowns are so destructive that John Ioannidis, one of the most cited medical scientists in history said: “Lockdown is a nuclear weapon that destroys everything”. There is no reputable scientist who supports lockdowns for longer that a two or three weeks, and not one who supports border closures.

    Giving politicians and public servants such extreme policy options is very unwise. They so often prove to be bunglers whose main area of expertise is acting and networking. They are alright under normal circumstances, when there’s nothing demanding to do, but worse than useless when there’s a real problem. The big task ahead of Australia today is to make whatever legislative changes are necessary to stop Australian governments assuming emergency powers for a virus or any similar cause ever again.

  • lbloveday says:

    No mention of enforced wearing of masks in CH’s articles, but they are an important issue.
    Both The Daily Telegraph and The Australian rejected this on-line comment from me:
    The World Health Organisation (https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public/myth-busters) emphatically informs the world (their capitals):
    FACT: People should NOT wear masks while exercising
    People should NOT wear masks when exercising, as masks may reduce the ability to breathe comfortably. Sweat can make the mask become wet more quickly which makes it difficult to breathe and promotes the growth of microorganisms.
    The important preventive measure during exercise is to maintain physical distance of at least one meter from others.
    The W.H.O. link illustrates exercise with a woman wearing normal clothing casually riding a commuter, not racing, bicycle while sitting erect and a man wearing non-sports clothing doing stretches or other light exercise in a park, so the W.H.O. is not talking about intense exercise, just everyday physical activity.
    For elderly, a walk around the block is exercise, so according to the W.H.O., they SHOULD NOT be wearing masks while walking. No elderly person has lungs and heart as functional as they were when young, and many have poorly functioning respiratory and, or, cardiovascular systems, making light exercise even more important.

  • ianl says:

    Stephen Due

    >”Giving politicians and public servants such extreme policy options is very unwise”

    Well yes, but the issue is how to prevent that power from just being grabbed, or retrieve it when it is.

    It’s no uncorrelated sequence that the Andrews VicGov only retreats on whichever parameter has the luck to be challenged in a court. Getting that far is very expensive, so again it’s no accident that only those with the means have achieved it. Typically our MSM then smear these people with envy.

    Note also that Andrews has proposed (achieved ?) a regulation that pushes an increase in a contested fine from $1600 to $20,000 if a court upholds the fine, obviously designed to discourage with prejudice the contesting of fines. This shows very clearly what scares those with powerlust – massive disobedience, sparked by one or two successful challenges.

  • Ian MacDougall says:

    “As a Melburnian I’d like to know if this major metropolis will revert to a police-state once again, with roadblocks, curfews, public buildings and schools shuttered, heavy travel restrictions, identity checks in parklands, and all citizens placed in effective home detention (as well as the Premier’s use of meetings with shonky minutes, and blame shifting, to control subordinates), if the city can’t achieve the Premier’s targeted infection rate of one case or less per million people each day? Because in a city of over five million that’s what his benchmark of a maximum five new infections a day amounts to.”
    From there to Sweden, in a couple of comments not mine:
    “Sweden has 10 million people; NZ has 5 million people. Sweden has had almost 5900 deaths; NZ has had 24. Knowing this statistics (sic) now, could we possibly have chosen to go via Sweden’s route? I don’t think so.”
    “Before libertarian types bang on about the lack of restrictions in Sweden can I remind them that Sweden also has a massive, all-encompassing welfare system backing them up. Poor people or those who are unemployed don’t need to even think about risking work if they have a sniffle.
    https://www.smh.com.au/world/europe/sweden-records-highest-daily-rise-in-covid-19-cases-since-june-20201001-p5618d.html (CAUTION: FAIRFAX !!!!)
    I might add that I would have gone to ‘The Australian’, except Murdoch’s got it paywalled.

  • Occidental says:

    I have been fascinated by many things during this hysteria, human fear probably the most fascinating, but another is this constant reference to “the science”. At the very beginning of the epidemic one thing that appeared to intrigue the virologists, was the fact that the very young appeared to have few symptoms, and possibly fewer infections than the general population. Not being a scientist I would have thought that a virus which appears to be almost asymptomatic with a large and specific segment of the population would be of critical import in understanding the virus’s nature or the underlying physiological response of the immune system to it. I am yet to read of any progress in understanding this. Moreover and no doubt I will be corrected but the settled knowledge about the virus is that it is of a class of virus that is principally transferred through respiratory activity, is highly contagious indoors, and tends only to kill those who are very old or who suffer “co-morbidities” whatever that means. How you then massage that fairly limited amount of knowledge into some esoteric field of “science” is beyond me. Surely all the known “science” can be summarised as it applies to the individuals risk assessment as follows- the more time you spend indoors with more people, or in close proximity talking to people the more likely you are to catch the virus, and the older or more unhealthy you are the worse off the resulting infection could be. If I have missed any other significant aspect of the risk please let me know what it is.

  • Occidental says:

    @Stephen Due
    Whilst I agree with everything you have said surely one of the conclusions that we can draw from these events is that those of us who cherish our liberty and natural freedoms are in the minority. Even on these pages there seems quite a number of commenters who are satisfied, to say the least, with the authoritarian response. To me this is intriguing. Are the majority really that frightened of the virus? If that is the case can they not read and apply adult reasoning to the facts? Another possibility is that many simply regard this as a paid holiday to spend at home, potter about the garden, watch netflix and once the free money runs out go back to work? As I wrote on The Australian website, government regulation principally affects active people, those who want to engage in commerce, sport, hobbies, or pursue areas of interest. For people who come home from work, sit in front of the television or be entertained on the net – the “passives”, government regulation and restriction is of little importance, and is certainly outweighed by the free money.

  • March says:

    The promised vaccine is unlikely to be any more effective than the flu vaccine which will mean a similar annual toll to the flu of between 1000 and 3000 deaths per annum. The overall mortality rate is unlikely to shift much as those in respite care are vulnerable to both and if one does not get them the other will, or one of the other comorbidities they are likely to be suffering from. We need to shift to a Herd immunity model in which better infection controls are introduced to age care, and the rest of us carry on. There are already effective treatments for covid that reduce the risk. We dont need to wait for a dodgy vaccine. Trying to prolong the lives of those already at deaths door is as futile as preventing the common cold which also kills a fair share of the old and infirm. Good grief.

  • Ian MacDougall says:

    Occidental, or whatever your real name is:
    “Even on these pages there seems quite a number of commenters who are satisfied, to say the least, with the authoritarian response. To me this is intriguing. Are the majority really that frightened of the virus?”
    Trump counselled ‘don’t be afraid of it’ too. Then the White House became a C-19 hot spot.
    I suggest that if you really value your freedom and individuality, and want to strike a blow for it, all you have to do is get in your car and start driving on the right hand side of the road: right here in Australia. See how you go.
    Laws and regulations only work because people respect the motive behind them. Where regulations are not respected, they don’t work anyway.
    Covid-19 has gone through the ‘libertarian’ Trump’s White House the way the myxo went through the rabbits of this country: arguably proving that Trump and your average rabbit are on the same level of stable genius. (Sorry for that insult, bunnies, but facts are facts.)
    .37.8M infections to date and 1.08M deaths worldwide.
    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/oct/05/trumps-desperation-to-leave-hospital-shows-the-dangers-ahead (CAUTION: NON-MURDOCH PUBLICATION!!!)

  • lbloveday says:

    In April 1984, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Margaret Heckler made a statement in a press conference about an HIV vaccine, based on a conversation she’d had with the virus’s co-discoverer, Robert Gallo: “We hope to have a vaccine ready for testing in about two years.”
    This prediction seemed overly optimistic even at the time, given that most vaccines take 10-20 years to develop.
    And here we are, 37 years later with no vaccine and none envisaged, despite HIV/AIDS-related deaths peaking at about 2 million in 2004 alone (and still around 800,000 last year).
    But a COVID-19 vaccine will be ready in a few months?

  • Citizen Kane says:

    BIG Lithium (aka Ian MacDougall). Once again you fail to understand the facts and are incapable at appreciating the bigger picture. The WHO states that approximately 1 in 10 people have been exposed to the virus as demonstrated time and time again around the world by antibody studies. That puts the IFR at 0.00125%. In Australia and around much of the world the median age of death from Covid is higher than median life expectancy. The WHO also states that over 200 million will be plunged into abject poverty and around 100 million into starvation globally due to pandemic responses. In the UK (the governments own figures reveal) an additional 49 000 individuals are calculated to die at a much younger age due to loss of access to healthcare and delayed diagnosis of serious illness. In Australia an additional 750 -1500 people are calculated to commit suicide -most of them young. To date this year 92 000 Australian have died from all causes and every year around 13 000 perish from type II diabetes. This has not once motivated a peep out of you on this site. What value do you place on these peoples lives? Clearly none. But I wouldn’t expect anything less than that from someone who wants to swamp the biosphere with noxious Lithium. Someone who happily earns a living from CO2 belching livestock while proselytizing on AGW, Someone who makes a living from sending those same animals off to slaughter on a regular basis in crammed diesel fueled trucks while claiming to be a environmentalist. You Sir, are nothing short of being an utter moral fraud! Now talk us through the devastating effects that Covid had on the 74 year old US president again please. Now this should be amusing…..

  • ammsmailbox says:

    The situation in the northern hemisphere appears to be a “casedemic” as explained in the below video from Biochemical engineer – Ivor Cummins. An increase in “cases” without a corresponding increase in deaths.


  • Geoff Sherrington says:

    Re: “The Science”.
    As a retired scientist, late 70s age, male, with a 33day hospitalisation last year with pericardial effusion, pulmonary effusion, fever, dementia, pneumonia and more, I have a perspective from the high risk group in society.
    I prefer to have a stringent lockdown and border barriers for my personal comfort; I detest those who spread the virus to threaten me, such as mass demonstrators; I am ashamed that my personal preferences place a huge burden on society and I regret that others suffer for my protection; I cannot see any adequate scientific future course to restrain the numbers of deaths from this virus, only delay at high cost; am not confident of a vaccine at all or inside my remaining years.
    I am ashamed of the numerous snake oilers who glibly state “I go with the Science” while being clueless about Science methods and the science around this virus. Nobody has yet resolved mask wearing cost:benefit, yet it is enforced under penalty – that is not Science.
    There have been many dispicable acts by people in power, such as bun fights over treatments and the politics of hate in the USA re their President.
    There is nothing I can recommend except “Oeep calm and carry on” while wishing for far better quality among politicians and bureaucrats. Lies do not impress or help.
    Geoff Sherrington

  • Citizen Kane says:

    BIG Lithium – [Forgive me, Father, for I have clearly sinned. What should I have been doing that could have altered this situation?]. Well, why don’t we start with this. ‘Red meat consumption is considered a significant dietary risk factor for ischaemic heart disease, type II diabetes and maliganant neoplasms of the colon and rectum. Ischaemic heart disease is the leading cause of death in Australia, Colon/rectal the sixth most prominent cause of death and type II diabetes the seventh. Combined they claimed over 30000 deaths per annum. Ischaemic heart disease and Colon Rectal cancer rate both second and fourth as the morbidities responsible for years of potential life lost.
    Join the dots BIG Lithium.
    And all you can come up with to pay respect to each and everyone of these poor souls, for which your mode of income likely played a roll in their demise, is ‘”Rant, rant, rant”. Once again, I would expect no less.
    Furthermore in 2018, Influenza and secondary pneumonia was the 12th leading cause of death in Australia claiming over 3000 lives. Yet again not a single lockdown peep out of BIG Lithium in 2018- go figure!

  • Citizen Kane says:

    President Trump was treated with plasma containing Covid antibodies derived from another donor – no more costly or complicated than what occurs at red cross blood banks all around the country on a daily basis- supplemental oxygen via nasal cannula at 2 -3L/min as is standard protocol and of course, hydroxychloroquine ( as a prophylactic). Any exorbitant cost would be purely down to the services of the medical personnel themselves and the medical facility in which he was treated.

  • Citizen Kane says:

    BIG Lithium – “They have got me where I am today” – a rank hypocrite and a moral fraud. Congratulations.

  • lbloveday says:

    I’ve made a life out of gambling.
    The only certain bets can only be made are on past events as the future can never be certain – it is often said that the only certainties in life are taxes and death, but even those are not certain (some believe in Second Coming of Christ and that those alive at that time will not die). And despite the odds of winning Powerball with a single ticket being 1 in 76,676,600, it’s not certain that I won’t win $40m tomorrow night).
    So the only way a person can bet on a certainty is to bet on a fact that he knows for certain has happened or is currently true (Trump was elected POTUS in 2016, Canberra is the capital of Australia). And the only person with whom he can bet with is someone that he is certain, 100% positive, does not know the fact (some will remember Paul Newman and The Sting; ok as a film, rightly criminal in real life). That, in my opinion, is akin to theft, and, again in my opinion, the person taking such a bet is a low-life thief.

  • lbloveday says:

    The only certain bets that can be made are on past events…………….

  • Occidental says:

    I am glad to hear you are a punter. In my opinion teaching wagering and handing on the basic skills of form analysis is one of the most fruitful things a father, or uncle, or grandparent, can teach a child. Whilst my day job was in the law, my abiding hobby when living in Australia was the punt. I try to explain to people the intellectual benefits that accrue to anyone who seriously pursues wagering, and for most of time all that I am met with is a baleful look of disbelief.

  • Stephen Due says:

    A couple of general points about lockdowns. First, consider the intimate connection between modern public health policy and democracy. It is a fundamental principle of public health that democracy is positively good for the physical and mental wellbeing of the people. Quite apart from the obvious ethical and human rights issues involved, the fact that lockdowns disrupt democratic processes and freedoms means they are likely in themselves to be bad for public health.
    Secondly, consider the known adverse effects of lockdowns as public health measures. ‘First do no harm’ is the basic principle in public health as in clinical medicine. It is not good enough to be quoting ‘the science’ in support of lockdowns without considering ‘the science’ on the adverse effects. Economic destruction – a certain effect of lockdowns – is the source specifically of the greater rates of disease and death that are associated with increasing poverty. There is an intimate, positive connection between economic flourishing and good population health. Lockdowns not only disrupt the provision of normal health services, but also indirectly cause illness and early death through the destruction of livelihoods and the further impoverishment of the poor.
    In modern public health policy, lockdowns and border closures have never been considered a proper method for controlling pandemic respiratory viruses. What is most astonishing to me about government responses to the current situation is the readiness with which proven scientific wisdom and experience have been cast aside in favour of blind panic and what can only be described as magical thinking..

  • Ian MacDougall says:

    I think it fair to say that governments have not gone into lockdowns for the fun of it, but only after taking serious medical advice: which advice appears to be divided, but in what proportions for and against I do not know.
    There are people out there who have tested positive and who make an issue of not wearing masks and of going against mainstream scientific advice, like er, say er, Donald Duck – I mean Donald Trump. The White House I understand is now a C-19 hot spot. I am not surprised at all.
    What appears to be emerging from the approach of putting the needs of business first is a valuation of each human life in dollar terms. (The old are expendable. They’ve had their day…. etc… etc.) That, I suggest, is a rather dangerous track to go down. And I can cite history to prove it.
    Western civilisation rests on the Christian foundation of the Golden Rule, whose earliest rendition was proposed by Confucius (C 600 BC) and possibly imported into Europe via the Silk Road. From that we derive the proposition that all lives have to be of equal value.
    If they are not, then we are at a fork in the road, with one fork leading on to Auschwitz.

  • lbloveday says:

    No boss, no subordinates, no customers, no co-partner; one out against the world. Suits my personality, training and ability to a capital T.
    Failed to pass it on to my daughter despite insisting she did double maths or go to a state school, and she has never know me as other than a gambler – she became a fashion designer (believe it or not, she got a Bachelor of Creative Arts (Fashion); remember when Universities taught rigorous courses?). But I did teach her a solid work ethic – she started an after-school/ weekend job the day the nanny-state let her on turning 14 and never had any trouble getting a job as a waitress – as a good friend said, she could spill a meal over a man’s expensive suit, smile sorry, and he’d still give her a tip!

  • Occidental says:

    “No boss, no subordinates, no customers, no co-partner; one out against the world. Suits my personality, training and ability to a capital T.“

    Yep, that sums up much of its essence, plus the joy of constantly learning, particulary about ones self.

  • Occidental says:


  • DG says:

    Hmm, we’ve become quite a chat room!
    I add my voice to Geoff’s. As soon as someone talks about ‘the science’ I anticipate the thoughts of a follower of ‘scientism’. But science = knowledge, Its an enquiry. It keeps changing, even if we think it won’t.

  • Doubting Thomas says:

    IanMacD, I agree with most of your views about gambling, but not “that courses on the traps of life should be taught in schools”. My younger son met his future wife when they were dealers in that very same Canberra Casino that you drove past. They had their 20th wedding anniversary just last week. Neither of them have gambled a single cent since their time in the casino, knowing from close personal observation just how dangerous those traps are.
    Yet our modern schools are not the place to teach these lessons if only because few if any teachers would have the necessary expertise, or the moral authority. Personal example by parents is the best and surest way, but then these days even parental authority is fast becoming obsolete.

  • Lo says:

    Thank you Stephen.

  • lbloveday says:

    Re Powerball; Every Sunday I gamble about $25 on lotto/lotteries for the coming week (0.13% of what I gamble now and 0.01% of what I used to when I “wore a younger man’s clothes” . A bottle of ok wine.
    At the time the best, in my opinion, the best gambler in Australia, Don Scott, was at his peak, he said about lotteries ” Where else can one win a $million for a dollar”. Where else indeed? Should be obvious that my gambling is not on Lotto/lotteries – they take 40%? from each pool and distribute the rest to “winners”.

  • Ian MacDougall says:

    And the best way to make money from racehorses? I had this tip from an insider: “Follow ’em with a shovel.”

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