Tag Archives: contradictory messaging

Covid-19 & Magical Thinking in OZ

First up an important video from Dr John Campbell – remember, he’s a PhD in the medical field, not a doctor Dr – on immunity and the immune system:

The second video is a world, Covid-19 update, and this is where the title of this post comes from:

When Dr John gets to Australia [1:38 of the video] his understated disapproval is embarrassingly obvious. To quote just a bit that I managed to transcribe:

‘Scott in Australia…Scott Morrison…well, it’s not for me to go around judging world leaders but..[snip]…not too much pre-activity in Australia.’

So today I want to talk about my country, my Australia. I know what this crisis feels like on the ground, but until today, I had no real idea of what we were doing about it. The following screenshots are what I found:

This is the official Federal government website from which both screenshots were take: https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert/coronavirus-covid-19-current-situation-and-case-numbers

The bit highlighted in red – ‘The source of infection for 26 cases is currently unknown’ is the most worrying because it shows that Covid-19 is already out in the community…as at March 18, 2020. And that’s only the cases we know about, perhaps because these are the cases needing medical help.

But what about those cases where people are asymptomatic – i.e. without symptoms – or suffering from only very mild symptoms?

These people are going about their lives, ‘business as usual’, and spreading the infection to god alone knows how many others.

It’s hard to predict how many other people are becoming infected because the ripple effect will be different for each person, a bit like this video of ripples in water:

If you were to slow the effect down and freeze it, you might get something like this:

The big circle in the middle is PERSON 1. If PERSON 1 infects just 3 other people, and each of them infect just 3 more people, you would quickly have 148 people infected. I’m no mathematician so if I’ve got that wrong PLEASE tell me in comments.

The actual spread of the virus will be far more complicated than my pretty little diagram, but if we already have 26 cases for which there is no known source, it means the spread through the community could be far, far worse than the figures imply. Many sources I’ve read say the actual number should be the official figure multiplied by 10 or even 20.

But of course, the governments figures would be suspect anyway because they haven’t done anywhere near enough testing. Only those with clinical symptoms of Covid-19 who request help are being tested. Those who only suspect they may be infected aren’t tested at all.

I tried to find out how much testing Australia has done and is doing, but the government sources provide next to no information. The following quote is from The Guardian:

‘Speaking at the council of Australian governments meeting on Friday, Australia’s chief medical officer, professor Brendan Murphy, said supply problems with coronavirus testing kits was a “temporary issue” but one that was hampering the scale of testing in Australia and across the globe.

“It’s a temporary issue, but it relates to the fact that a number of countries, where these consumables are made have probably put export controls over them to keep them for their own use,” he said. “We will work through it. We’ve got world-leading medical technology and will fix that issue, but it has caused a temporary issue with the scale of the testing that we can do at the moment.”

Quote taken from The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/mar/13/global-shortage-of-covid-19-test-kits-hits-australia-as-other-nations-limit-exports

So the take home message seems to be that we don’t currently make enough [or any?] test kits in Australia, but medical manufacturing is ramping up to produce home grown test kits.

The question, however, is how long will these homegrown test kits take to manufacture? The CDC in the US tried to do the same thing, and failed. Just exactly how are we, with a fraction of the resources, going to do better?

A related question is: why didn’t we start this process earlier, like when the deadly potential of Covid-19 first became apparent?

So… nowhere near enough testing happening in Australia. But then what data are the modellers basing their advice on?

The lack of testing is like the general of an army saying, ‘don’t bother sending out reconnaissance; we know the enemy is out there.’

But where is the enemy?

How many of them are there?

Do we know where they’re going?

The lack of adequate testing is not only hindering our ability to fight this pandemic, it’s leaving individuals with the frightening idea that everyone is potentially a carrier.

We’ve already seen the panic buying. Some of that is profiteering by disgusting people who should be hung up by their balls, or whatever part of their anatomy that hurts the most. But by and large, most of the panic buying is by people like me who take the threat seriously and want to protect their vulnerable loved ones.

Frankly, when #ScottyFromMarketing gets on his high horse and says ‘dont do it!’, like some kind of stern, all-knowing father figure, my first instinct is to flip him the bird. How dare he?

Despite the evidence of China, South Korean, and Italy, the Australian government is still treating us like mushrooms and pretending that we can do better than every other country on Earth.

Past experience has shown that by ‘better’, this government means ‘survive the virus without damaging the economy too much’. First stimulus package – protect industry and ‘jobs’. Second stimulus package…protect more jobs??

How about a commitment to give those made unemployed by the virus enough to live on [so they can self-isolate without starving to death]?

How about taking control of the distribution of essentials like food and medication? If people with existing conditions can’t get their normal medication, many will die. And you can’t protect the vulnerable when they have to break self-isolation to stand cheek-by-jowl in long queues to buy food and other essentials.

The logistics of keeping people alive are being left to the marketplace, but the for-profit sector is making hay while the sun shines. The one exception to this is IGA. I’m not sure if all IGA stores are doing the same thing, but my local store has already instituted a strict rule for customers:

1 of each product per customer

At the very least, every single distributor of essential items should be doing the same.

And how about providing real information so that fear and confusion does NOT lead to hoarding? So far, the messaging from the government has been either pathetic or contradictory. To get through this, we need to work together, but we can’t work together when we don’t have leaders we can trust.

I’m prepared to make sacrifices, but only if I believe that the government is more concerned with my survival than my contribution to the economy. At the moment a part of me believes that #ScottyFromMarketing is still enamoured of Boris’ bogus ‘herd immunity’ strategy…and bugger the consequences.

We can’t fight what we can’t see, and we can’t follow leaders we don’t trust.

Meeks


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