A Twitter thread examining the alarming, tragic and unfinished story of Covid in Australia: where the people are now; how we got here; and what we must do to extract ourselves from this shitshow
BRISBANE - First, where are we right now? Some facts.
Around 50% of all Australians have had Covid, there have been 9,700 deaths from Covid and about half a million people are suffering from Long Covid.
To put that in perspective, the current death rate is around 50 people per day, and increasing.
This makes Covid the leading cause of death in Australia, ahead of heart disease and cancer, and puts us on track to have 20,000 people die from Covid this year.
We’re also learning that Long Covid is a serious condition that can cause long-term chronic illness and disability.
Around one in 10 infections lead to Long Covid, and there could be more than one million Australians suffering with Long Covid by the end of the year.
As well as fatigue, breathing problems, heart palpitations and other distressing symptoms, Long Covid can lead to noticeable cognitive decline that can make it impossible to work or function normally.
Long Covid also affects kids. Around 25% of children who have a symptomatic infection go on to develop Long Covid.
We now know that Covid can damage the lungs, heart, brain, liver and kidneys.
This increases the risk of heart attack, stroke, diabetes and cognitive impairment – even in healthy people, and even with a mild infection.
Covid has been widely mischaracterised as an acute respiratory infection (like the cold or flu). It is in fact a long-term multi-system disease which affects the entire body.
We also now know that a Covid infection gives very little protection against re-infection, and the risk of more serious outcomes increases with multiple infections.
Each re-infection harms the immune system and increases the risk of serious outcomes such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cognitive impairment.
BA.5 is 25% more transmissible than BA.2, due in part to lower vaccine effectiveness.
BA.5 may also be more pathogenic (that is, more likely to cause severe illness).
Given everything we know about Covid, as Dr David Berger (@YouAreLobbyLud) advises, there is only one strategy. .
Your regular reminder that there's only one smart game:
Don't get infected
Don't get infected
If you do get infected, get infected as few times as possible, with as low a viral load as possible, while as vaccinated as possible
So how did we get here?
The federal government and most state governments adopted a ‘Let It Rip’ approach of unmitigated spread when Omicron arrived in early 2022.
The governments and health authorities abandoned almost all efforts to limit spread of the virus.
One Chief Health Officer, Dr John Gerrard of Queensland, even boldly stated that widespread infection was ‘inevitable and necessary’, which would lead to a pleasant-sounding state of ‘endemicity’.
Unfortunately Covid -19 will not become endemic, as explained by Australia’s leading authority on biosecurity, Professor Raina MacIntyre.
"Reality check: SARSCoV2 will never be endemic. It is an epidemic disease, and always will be. This means it will find unvaccinated or under-vaccinated people and spread rapidly in those groups. It will display the typical waxing and waning pattern of epidemic diseases" - Raina MacIntyre (@Globalbiosec)
If we were generous, we’d say our political leaders were suffering from a heavy optimism bias.
In reality, abandoning all Covid mitigations has been a deliberate and cynical attempt by federal and state governments to downplay the seriousness of the pandemic for political purposes.
Facilitating rampant Covid transmission in an attempt to achieve endemicity has been widely discredited in the scientific community.
Professor Brendan Crabb AC microbiologist and CEO of Melbourne’s Burnet Institute, describes the endemicity theory as “flawed, not scientifically sound….and dangerous”.
“The notion that there’s nothing we can do as the Queensland CHO (chief health officer) and many others advocate - that everyone getting infected, regularly and repeatedly is OK and desirable so some magically benign endemicity will be achieved - is flawed. It is not scientifically sound” - Brendan Crabb (@CrabbBrendan)
NSW Premier Perrottet (@Dom_Perrottet) even boasted about lying to the public about Covid in order to boost business confidence.
Gaslighting the public about Covid has become something to behold.
“[There are] political attempts to make you doubt your (very sane) incredulity at being asked to return to ‘normal’ life with the pandemic still raging. But it’s closer to a type of grooming I think. Gradually breaking down your resistance to being infected” - Dr Henry Madison (@RageSheen)
The World Health Organisation has described allowing Covid to spread unchecked as “unscientific, unethical and epidemiological stupidity”.
In Australia, the silence of governments on the risks of Covid, plus a winding back of mitigations, has led to a widespread (but incorrect) public perception that Covid is a non-issue.
As a result, very few people are taking simple precautions that would prevent them and their loved ones from getting sick, prompting pleas to listen to experts like Professor Kerryn Phelps rather than politicians.
“Some truths about Covid. It may not be what you want to hear, but it is what you need to hear” - Kerryn Phelps AM (@drkerrynphelps)
Hardly anyone is wearing masks despite the fact that masks greatly reduce the risk of transmission.
“If you won’t wear a mask because ‘nobody else is’, it’s time to re-enrol in high school so that you can be amongst peers in your stage of emotional development” - Dr Henry Madison
The Queensland government even launched a ‘Smiles Are Back’ campaign which actively encouraged people to stop wearing masks. It worked, and no doubt caused many avoidable deaths.
Despite vaccine availability now being plentiful, vaccination rates in Australia are unbelievably low.
Of 5-11 year-olds 60% are not vaccinated, and 30% of eligible adults haven’t had a booster despite the fact that two doses no longer provide meaningful protection against Omicron.
Many people are oblivious to the fact that Covid is airborne.
Just go to the supermarket. Watch old people hand-sanitise and wipe down the trolley handle, but not wear a mask.
They don’t want to get Covid, they just haven’t been given the right information.