Barnaby loses yet another marble

By March 9, 2020Australian Politics

The village idiot of the National Party, the Beetrooter (Barnaby Joyce), has stated, on Sky News (I don’t subscribe because I am not a moron), that we need a ‘reality check’1 about the SARS-CoV-2 (coronavirus herein)2, because it poses less of a threat to Australians than snakes. Believe it or not, he said “we’ve had over 3,000 deaths globally, but you’d need about 30 to 40 times that number to equate to the deaths from snakebites”1.

It almost goes without saying that Barnaby is largely talking equine ordure. Each year, across the planet, between 81,00 and 138,000 people die from snakebite3, so in that regard Joyce has his arithmetic about right. However, in Australia, the number of snakebite deaths averages about 2 per annum (i.e. 35 deaths from January 2000 to December 2016)4. So far, in Australia, three people have already died from COVID-19 (the illness caused by coronavirus). By the evening of March 8th, 2020, there were 79 confirmed cases in Australia5. So, if you were one of the Beetrooter’s gullibles, you’d probably think: ‘OK, Barney is right’, but that is based mostly on ignorance of what we face. Currently, Australia has had more deaths from COVID-19 in about 10 weeks, than you’d expect from snakebite in a whole year.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines an epidemic is defined as “a regional outbreak of an illness that spreads unexpectedly”, and a pandemic as “the worldwide spread of a new disease” that affects large numbers of people. The WHO has not yet declared a pandemic, but its Director General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, stated that assessments were continuing and that while it isn’t there yet, it certainly has “pandemic potential”. So far, most of the observed cases, clusters and outbreaks have been traceable, meaning health officials have not seen evidence of widespread community transmission. Some countries have even slowed or stopped transmission6. This seems to be the case in China, where the transmission rate has fallen below 1 (i.e. each new confirmed patient has transmitted the virus to less than one person on average). Indeed, China reported that Friday March 6 was the first day without any new cases of COVID-19 in the province of Hubei, where the outbreak began7.

Worldwide, there are now over 107,000 cases of COVID-19 and 3,648 deaths are linked to the virus, while 60,637 people have recovered. On the surface, that would indicate a death rate of about 6%, but the calculations are much more convoluted than that, and according to the WHO, the global mortality rate is 3.4%.7

Whether this ‘epidemic’ can be controlled is not yet clear, although the results from China suggest it is possible. However, on March 2, WHO increased its assessment of the risk of global spread of the coronavirus outbreak from “high” to “very high”.6

While comparing the coronavirus outbreak to the Spanish Flu of 1918-1919 is comparing apples and oranges, mostly because 1919 was the medical dark ages compared to the medical technology available today. Indeed, it was not until 1933 that it was realised the Spanish Flu was caused by a virus. From the very start of the COVID-19 outbreak, scientists suspected it was caused by a virus, and within two weeks they had sequenced its genome and realised that the most likely animal hosts were bats. In addition, the Spanish Flu occurred in the days before antibiotics, and many of the deaths from the pandemic were caused by secondary bacterial infections8. The death rate of the Spanish Flu has been estimated to be between 2% and 3% and it mostly affected young adults. It is reported to have killed between 20 and 50 million across the world, more than were killed in the Great War of 1914-1918.9  In Australia, it is suspected that up to 33% (i.e. about 1.6 million people) of the population was infected by Spanish Flu and 15,000 died. Therefore, in Australia, the death rate was apparently about 1%.10  This is in part because the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories developed a partly effective vaccine for the most common bacteria that infected sufferers’ lungs11.

So, despite all the supreme medical technology we have available, when compared to 1919, the death rate for coronavirus is greater than that of the Spanish Flu. While Joyce is fond of uttering baseless stupidities12,13,14, for him to compare coronavirus to the danger from snakes simply boggles the mind. It is yet another illustration of his unsuitability for parliament. In Australia, we are 10 weeks in to this coronavirus ‘epidemic’ and it is impossible to tell how long it will last. However, Joyce is not known for engaging his brain before he opens his gob. In Australia, the first cases of Spanish Flu were detected in January 1919 and it was over by the end of that year. If this epidemic takes as long as that, many more will die. For Joyce to say that we needn’t worry is an appalling dereliction of his position as a parliamentarian. He is a deeply stupid man.




  • I reckon the “Beetrooter’s gullibles” are mostly the dickheads out there stocking up on toilet paper.

    Perhaps the village idiot will have a calming effect on them.

    • admin says:

      That is what I thought. I’d like to see a Venn diagram of One Notion voters and Bog-roll hoarders. I expect there would be quite an amount of overlap at least with some of them.

  • JON says:

    Let’s face it, we all know Joyce has the intellect of a juvenile and the ability to articulate his myriad random “thoughts” is not one of his strengths, if indeed he as any. He makes more sense when he’s pissed, as he showed before Xmas last year, and no-one has yet made any sense of that rant as far as I know.

    An adult would have used world road deaths (millions annually?) or even the last big flu “epidemic” (2018 – 80,000 deaths) to make the point that some of the reactions (stock market, business shutdowns etc) appear to be based on panic to some extent. Presumably that was his point? Who knows? That said even a semi economically-literate person (I’d put Joyce in the bottom decile of that demographic) would know that the stock market in particular has been overheated for quite a while and overdue for a correction.

    I doubt this virus will wake Australians up but it’s just another example of how dependent we are on others to do things for us – make our goods, process our food, provide our oil etc.

    Here’s my advice to Barnyard. Look on the bright side old bean. It’s a great distraction for the culpably moribund government you’re a part of, and it’s taking away the focus from the corruption, nepotism and incompetence of your coalition mates. Every cloud has a silver lining eh Beetrooter?

  • Mark Dougall says:

    Now I know this may be hard for Barnaby Joyce to comprehend, but it is far more easy to avoid getting bitten by a snake than it is to not catch a virus. One of the best ways to avoid getting bitten by a snake is to wear boots, not thongs, and then look where you are walking,, especially when you are checking the back paddock for rabbits, on a hot autumn evening, like I did 6 years ago. I reckon, as a snake bite recipient, that it is very, very easy to avoid getting bitten by a snake if you pay attention, and are not an idiot (like I was) whereas I think it may be quite hard to avoid catching coronavirus if you are a frail 85 year old in an aged care facility where someone else has not paid attention to appropriate preventative measures. By the way it was a red bellied black snake, and no problems occurred after an eight hour hospital emergency department visit. The snake and I both survived. Most snake bites in Australia are dry bites, as this one was (60-80%), including the browns. Most snakes in Australia would prefer to slither away rather than deal with the horrible two legged monsters that have invaded their land. Their bite is simply a “get off me you turd” thing. So Joyce, the fool, as usual, can add having no idea about snakes, and viruses, to the immense list of things he has no idea about.

  • Mark Dougall says:

    Whoops admin, an error, it should read than it is to “not catch a virus”. Apologies to you and any readers of my rambling comment.

  • JON says:

    Yep Mark, as the Beetrooter might testify if he was given a truth serum, there are really only three types of snakes Australians should be fearful of. The first is Insidious nationalus, a dangerous trouser snake capable of wreaking havoc whenever it’s turned loose. The second is Conservativius politicus, an evil grass-dwelling viper known to spit venom whenever it’s nemeses Truth, Transparency and Science occasionally drift by its hiding place. C. politicus is renowned for sleeping through most of its life and only becoming active when its tail is twisted by religious sects or when in the presence of the equally dangerous Murdochus sycophantus. M. sycophantus is well known for its random and seemingly bottomless emissions of toxic rancour whenever poked, but the good news is that about half the Australian population is already immune to its poison and an antivenin called ERRT (named for its primary ingredients education, reason and rational thinking) may help at least some of the other half to preserve their few remaining brain cells.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.