After a national cabinet meeting in July, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced vaccine targets for eased restrictions, saying that 70% of the adult population needed to be fully vaccinated before the country moved to Phase 2 of his plan for opening up the nation1. This ‘plan’ for Australia to open up was come up with after various targets and horizons had been jettisoned, largely because of a lack of vaccine supply2.
Morrison said the states and the federal government had agreed to the target at national cabinet. The 70% adult vaccination target would need to be reached nationally, and then in any individual state, before restrictions could be eased. Under ‘Phase 2’, vaccinated people would be placed under fewer restrictions, and there would be a higher arrival cap for vaccinated Australians returning from overseas. An 80% vaccination rate of adults would be required to reach ‘Phase 3’, in which vaccinated residents would have no restrictions, and would be allowed to leave the country, and “broad metropolitan lockdowns” such as those currently in operation in Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra would not occur1.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg stated that economic support for states would stop when the vaccination rate (presumably among adults) reaches 70%. He based this number on the Doherty Institute modelling. However, when queried (7:56 in to interview3) about the fact that there needs to be a decrease in cases even with a 70% vaccination rate, he simply ignored it and stated that we should be under no illusion that we can “eliminate Covid”. He then started (9:183) rattling off the UK’s statistics of “75% vaccination rate double dose yet in any one day they are getting 30,000 cases and more than 100 deaths”. He followed this with “living with Covid there’ll be cases; by living with Covid, there’ll be people in hospital, and with living with Covid, there’ll be deaths”3.
Frydenberg’s figures on the vaccination rate in the UK was wrong. At the time of writing, the UK has had 60.88% of its population fully vaccinated and another 9.1% partially vaccinated4. It is also a dubious statement that Covid-19 cannot be eliminated. Tasmania has gone for 463 days without a local Covid-19 case, 254 days without an imported case and 15 days since the last active case recovered. If that is not elimination then it must be damned close5. So, it seems clear that the government has now given up on preventing deaths from Covid-19, probably because it costs too much.
Iceland lies in the middle of the North Atlantic, about two thirds of the way from Norway to Greenland. It has a population of only about 360,000, just a bit less than the Australian Capital Territory6. At the time of writing, Iceland had 74.82% of its entire population vaccinated4, and like many places on the planet, it suffered two major waves of infection, the first peaking at the end of March, 2020, and the second peaking in the middle of October, 2020. However, despite their high vaccination rate, they are in the middle of a third major wave, worse than either of the previous waves, and which peaked in the first week of August7. They have had no deaths in this wave, but as they have a small population and because deaths lag infection by about two weeks, it is perhaps too soon to tell8.
Israel has a population of about 40% that of Australia’s and it has suffered significantly from the pandemic, with a relatively light first wave peaking in early April, 2020, a second in the middle of July, 2020, followed soon after by a severe one peaking at the end of September, 2020, with a seven-day moving average (SDMA) of over 6,000 new cases a day. This was followed by a fourth wave which peaked in the middle of January 2021 with over 8,000 (SDMA) new cases per day9. Israel has had 62.84% of its entire population vaccinated and just over 5% partially vaccinated, similar to that of the UK4. Like the UK, Israel is also in the throes of a fifth wave of Covid-19 infection with an SDMA of just under 7,000 new cases per day, and still climbing. It has also seen a rise in the number of deaths with an SDMA of 21 per day9.
As I have noted here before, the government fudges the vaccination figures by using the better looking ‘percentage of the eligible population’ (i.e. those over 16) as a guide, and that is why they also quote about 30% being fully vaccinated. In fact, 23.19% of the entire Australian population have been fully vaccinated4. So, when Morrison and Frydenberg talk about a 70% vaccination rate, they are only talking about the rate among those over 16, which translates to a vaccination rate of the entire population of about 56%. That is less than the vaccination rates in Iceland and Israel and they are both suffering badly from a new wave of infection.
To attempt to understand what Morrison and Frydenberg have in store for us if we open up at 56% of the population fully vaccinated, you only have to look at the UK after its Freedom Day (July 19), when many Covid-19 restrictions were eased. I wrote a piece about it a few days later and at that time it was clear that the rapid decline in numbers of new daily cases was starting to slow down10. Now, over a month later, it is clear that the decline stopped at about 26,000 (SDMA) new cases a day, and has now climbed to almost 30,500 (SDMA) per day. The SDMA of deaths is now climbed to 98 per day11. These were the figures Frydenberg alluded to in his interview3.
The government keeps parroting the Doherty Institute modelling, but nowhere do they admit that this modelling was based on low transmission numbers. University of Melbourne professor of mathematical biology James McCaw, who is part of the Doherty Institute and helped develop the modelling, said multiple factors needed to be considered in following the plan, which models both 70% and 80% of the population being vaccinated. He said that the modelling was “built around the fact that we can open up when we are able to manage the virus circulating in the community” and that “effective management of circulating virus without lockdowns requires high vaccine coverage and it requires there not to be a lot of cases in the community.” As a consequence, virus case numbers in NSW would need to drop for such high vaccination rates can be effective.
If Morrison and Frydenberg ignore this caveat, they are condemning Australians to another wave of infection and death like that now happening in Iceland, Israel and the UK. The reason they are so keen to open up is because people’s lives are of no consequence to them, as long as their mates are doing well and the donations keep flowing.
Morrison appeared on Insiders ABC) today, apparently very determined to shove his Plan at the viewers. He behaved like the proverbial bully-boy, not allowing David Speers to interrupt his flow, which went in a torrent of authoritative sounding words claiming much again of what Frydenberg had previously stated. There was no doubting Scummo was on the offensive, and in fact he was rather “offensive”. One idea he gave us was that aiming for zero cases before the economy could restart in a big way, was an impossible dream. It’s likely that is in fact true…and what a rarity coming from the emperor with no clothes! Speers was aching to get a word in sideways as the PM plunged on, rebuking him in a somewhat churlish (childish?) way for wanting to get more precise detail from Morrison. It was prime Prime Minister in action, the man who wanted to appear very firm, self-directed and on top of all the Covid Delta situation. Of course most of it was acting, and Scomo’s a master of the Hollywood art of faking it. Pity poor Speers being shoved about as he simply tried to elucidate some PM comments. Appalling pollie pushiness from the Big Marketing Pig.
He just waffles on and cannot be stopped without getting bolshie. That is the advantage he has over his idol Trump. Trump was a slow-witted inarticulate malignant narcissist, whereas Morrison is maybe just as slow-witted, but is articulate in that he can string words together, but they are equally meaningless. Furthermore, Speers was too easily cowed.
I smell an election, and #ScottyFromMarketing has changed his tune and appeared on Insiders for once to show the Australian people that he actually cares for them. If that is the case, then perhaps he would do things like establishing a federal ICAC with teeth (we were promised one about 1000 days ago), abolish the Cashless Welfare Card, stand down the minister responsible for Robo-Debt, and fire the entire board at MTM Co who gave us a crippled broadband network.
From what I read, more and more people are getting fed up with SFM and deflecting to The New Liberals. But all he has to do is offer tax cuts to everyone and the sheep will fall over themselves.
I hope that is true. The New Liberals sound more like the pre-Howard Liberals, where there was accountability, ministerial codes that were enforced and when the wealthy paid their fair share of tax. It’s a long time ago, and a long way from the disgraceful criminals who now masquerade as Liberals. Coupled with this, the Liberal Party is now replete with religious nutters some of whom want to recriminalise prostitution, abortion, and homosexuality and want to legislate their bigotries.
Honest Government ad on covid: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X_0zFEtPbiA
Brilliant and perfectly accurate.
Thank you Jon. Brilliant.
Paul Kelly the Commonwealth, Chief Medical Officer, had a press conference this week, where a reporter asked if he was looking at what was happening elsewhere and specifically mentioned Israel. Kelly’s answer was revealing. He said that yes they do look at what is happening elsewhere (duh!!) and yes they had seen that Israel had a high vaccination rate and had been able to open up. That was it. Nothing about their rising cases and deaths, and nothing about how the death rate in those vaccinated is showing that vaccine effectiveness wanes, and protection is not guaranteed. As this article from science mag states (https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2021/08/grim-warning-israel-vaccination-blunts-does-not-defeat-delta) “What is clear is that “breakthrough” cases are not the rare events the term implies. As of 15 August, 514 Israelis were hospitalized with severe or critical COVID-19, a 31% increase from just 4 days earlier. Of the 514, 59% were fully vaccinated. Of the vaccinated, 87% were 60 or older. “There are so many breakthrough infections that they dominate and most of the hospitalized patients are actually vaccinated,” says Uri Shalit, a bioinformatician at the Israel Institute of Technology (Technion) who has consulted on COVID-19 for the government. “One of the big stories from Israel [is]: ‘Vaccines work, but not well enough.’”
We are being snowed, and in a big, and dangerous way.
Yep; this is a snow job which has the potential to be extremely dangerous and deadly.
Jeezuz! I just read that article, and it is frightening to think of cretins like Morrison and Berejiklian want to open up sooner rather than later.
The UK seems to have given up and accepted a large death toll as a fair price for freedom of movement. Meanwhile their health system is borderline farked, and not just the NHS. Private GPs are quitting due to massive work overload, abuse and the inability to retain office workers. Many others are working double hours to try and limit pressure on hospitals. Meantime their conservative politicians, having offloaded responsibility for managing the virus and the anger and abuse of people requiring medical assistance for a whole range of conditions to doctors and health workers, are basking in the warmth of a pressure release. ‘Not our problem any more – you deal with it’ is now the (unvoiced) policy.
Will the same happen here when the finishing line to the non-race is reached post “AVN” (Acceptable Vax No) Day? The Pentecostal Malingerer is clearly ignoring Doherty modelling wrt what is a manageable community case number and has indicated that financial support will dry up, Burythemquiklian has already said deaths are an inevitable cost of opening up (showing backbone Morrison can only dream of), so you can assume that a similar mindset already exists in some jurisdictions in this country. Good luck if you work in health care, are vulnerable, are over 70 or under 16 or just one of the unlucky ones. You’re going to need it.
Yep. Many will die. Morrison, being a member of a death cult, will not care.
This is what Australian health systems will potentially be facing. Don’t expect any journalist has bothered asking the question about what plans Morrison and Hunt have to ensure covid doesn’t overrun hospitals, let alone how they expect hospitals to provide “normal” services to people with other conditions?
There is no chance Morrison would consider any of that. All Morrison is concerned about is remaining PM. If a few tens of thousands of people die in the service of that concern, that is a small price for Morrison to pay.
Nail head hit.