“It’s almost like there’s a political will for Covid to go away, and it hasn’t gone away. So we’re just not going to really talk about it anymore” - Independent federal MP, Rebekha Sharkie
NOOSA - The pandemic has to be getting worse. It has to be getting worse because there are no serious public health steps being taken to halt its progress.
On the contrary, public health measures have been diminished. 'You Do You' is the new, trite, slogan of how our leaders see Australians' health being managed.
Even the much vaunted vaccines are waning in their ability to protect. If you can get them in the first place. The federal government seems to have lost interest.
Covid is a highly infectious disease which, in each successive generation or variant, we know is both more evasive and edging closer to what will be a disastrous aptitude to overwhelm our body’s brain protection capability.
I felt from the first mention of the pandemic in January 2020 that this virus would get to be a serious threat.
I responded accordingly, and began to stockpile food for the lockdowns – official or informal – I suspected were to come. I even bought a couple of extra rolls of toilet paper to worsen the national scarcity
Australian deaths from Covid, 2020 = 909
Cases of Covid in our home at Noosa = 0
A year later, in Australia, we were waiting for our vaccines to arrive (prime minister Scott Morrison had stuffed up the ordering, saying erroneously ‘it is not a race’) or for them to be manufactured in a mysterious deal with Oxford AstraZeneca we were getting our own lab which later just as mysteriously disappeared.
A few months into 2021, I was horrified when NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian, in cahoots with Morrison, began to equate action to suppress Covid with ‘wokeness’ and left wing ideology.
I observed with alarm the NSW government ramping up a ‘freedom’ campaign’ in which the State’s libertarian Covid policy contested the much more conservative policies of other States, initially including quite severe but effective lockdowns.
Then at the end of 2021, as a new more infectious variant, Omicron, cut its way through the population, something reckless and unbelievable occurred.
Every State in unison except Western Australia abandoned important control and suppression efforts and began to emulate NSW, claiming their populations were now ‘free’. Western Australia was to follow their lead in early 2022.
It was an impulsive decision which was to lead to many unnecessary deaths and the more rapid spread of Long Covid.
Australian deaths from Covid, 2021 = 1,317
Cases of Covid in our home at Noosa = 0
Throughout 2022, in the cloisters of the secretive National Cabinet, Covid control measures were further reduced in lockstep with more propaganda, data suppression and trolling of people favouring a more active stance to protect the population.
Those wearing masks became targets of mockery and abuse.
Most Australian State governments have behavioural insight units whose role is to fiddle with your mind and by mid-year it was clear that a professional ‘nudge’ PR campaign was underway.
This included a preposterous effort to drive the C word completely out of usage, backed by large sections of an uncurious media which, to its shame and my angst, included the ABC.
The election of a Labor federal government in May seemed to hold promise of a more realistic approach to dealing with Covid.
Not more mass lockdowns, nobody wanted those, but there were plenty of low intrusive tactics available to slow down the spread of the virus.
After all, the new prime minister Anthony Albanese when in opposition had frequently taken to Twitter to condemn the Morrison government’s slovenly approach to dealing with many aspects of dealing with the disease.
His repertoire included that he would: strive for a masks-plus strategy; make public National Cabinet minutes; ensure science would be the determinant for managing Covid; release the minutes of the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC), the peak decision-making committee for public health emergency management and disease; commit himself to health and life coming first and the economy second; fight for Australians left most vulnerable after Covid, including workers facing JobKeeper cuts, women forced out of jobs and the elderly.
“I got a bit fired up in parliament today because Scott Morrison refused to condemn a member of his own government for saying ‘masks don't work’ and ‘lockdowns don't work’. Truly a disgrace” - Anthony Albanese, 10 August 2021
However, the mandarins of public service (most visibly chief health officer Paul Kelly) and business (particularly the travel industry), were quick to rein in any sensible notion held by the new prime minister and health minister.
A new invention, seized upon by Albanese, was a breathtaking campaign to officially comflate Covid with seasonal colds and influenza by designating it ‘non-exceptional’.
The few remaining mitigations were abolished or eased, including mandates against working and mixing with other people while infected.
This was not recommended, of course. But by this time people knew what ‘not recommended’ meant: that they were allowed to deal with the virus in their own way.
“In the ultimate ‘Let It Rip’ move, the Victorian government here in Australia has just lifted the last bastion of Covid precautions: if you catch Covid and test positive now you don’t even need to isolate, not even for the (grossly inadequate) seven days. You can go out and infect everybody! - Thoracicus, pseudonym of surgeon, clinical anatomist and educator”
And the majority of the population had been told over and over for more than two years that Covid was mild and that they had nothing to fear.
Indeed, they were led to believe that catching Covid provided immunity. And that if you’d had a couple of vaccine shots, you’d be fine. Too often the opposite was true. Two shots were never enough.
So it turned out tens of thousands of people had something to fear – death or Long Covid.
At best catching Covid can provide a couple of weeks of immunity. But a recent US study published in Nature Medicine shows that catching it repeatedly can seriously damage the immune system.
“Contracting COVID-19 a second time doubles a person’s chance of dying and triples the likelihood of being hospitalised, a new study found,” the authors revealed. “Vaccination and booster status did not improve survival or hospitalisation rates among people who were infected more than once.”
The study also reported that being infected more than once dramatically increases the risk of lung, heart and brain problems.
“Another piece of research showing viral persistence of Covid-19. This time in the brain, which until now hasn’t been found active in tissue, but thought to be mediated from vascular/endothelial damage” - Morgan Stephens, journalist and producer, CNN, Washington
“This proof of the dissemination of SARSCov2 throughout the body, and its persistence in many sites, is a big advance and may well come to explain a lot” - Professor Brendan Crabb AC, CEO, Burnet Institute, Melbourne
As for those vaccinations, for most of us who had the fourth one in the middle of last year, the protective effects have waned considerably and in most people completely.
The outcome of this methodical approach to infecting the population of Australia was obvious.
Schools became a network of incubators. Every major gathering became a super spreader event.
Many more people caught Covid. Many more people died, particularly in aged care facilities. Many more health care workers became ill. Many more hospitals overflowed.
“Deaths in Australian residential aged care has doubled each of the last two months. The government has ‘washed its hands’ (so to speak) of infection control and put the onus on the operators” - Peter Vogel, lawyer and inventor
Last year Covid killed more than 3,000 people in aged care facilities, triple the number of the previous two years of the pandemic.
Cases in aged care had begun to soar with the arrival of Omicron and the removal of restrictions within the community.
The government says that more than 90% of Australians over age 70 are ‘fully vaccinated’.
The definition of ‘fully vaccinated’ seems to be two shots. It does not include the two boosters.
Nevertheless, Labor aged care minister Anika Wells felt able to tell the Sydney Morning Herald, “We’ve left no stone unturned in managing the response to Covid in aged care”.
How could that boast possibly be true? Public education, where it existed, was often incomplete or even misleading. Washing hands is no protection against an aerosol virus.
"A conservative estimate is that 500,000 Australians will suffer from Long Covid, for which there is no specific treatment"
– Professors Mike Toole & Brendan Crabb
The new variants, greater in number and deaf to propaganda, cycled time and again as new waves stormed through a population that had been told early in 2022 that the pandemic was over.
In the latter part of the year, the community began to find vaccines and anti-viral medications difficult to procure and impossible to procure for some age groups.
“Our ‘public health’ officials and politicians keep telling us here in Australia to make sure we're ‘vaccinated and fully boosted’. Yet, for those of us who are vaccinated four times, in most cases there is no way to access further boosters. My last booster was seven months ago, and [it’s protection] has waned by now” – Thoracicus, pseudonym of surgeon, clinical anatomist and educator
The result is that only about 25% of Australians are fully vaccinated with four shots, although the government likes to include in ‘fully vaccinated’ people who have had only two shots.
And the minimising, the lying, the deceit, the mocking and the decisions that made it more difficult for people to protect themselves were constant.
It is no wonder that the bulk of the population conforms to behaviour that is bad for them. That can make them severely ill or kill them.
The pressure to fit in, deliberately instilled by governments and media, is overwhelming.
So is public recognition by leaders that a serious disease is out of control, taking thousands of lives and leaving many thousands more with severe and probably lifelong illness.
Australian deaths from Covid, 2022 = c 15,000
Cases of Covid in our home at Noosa = 2
Sources Crabb & Toole, Jackson Family
The prime minister has evinced no condolences to grieving relatives. There has been no expression of sadness or a word of sorrow.
Indeed, many relatives of the dead are too ashamed to even mention that a loved one has died of Covid.
Individual responsibility has triumphed. It even has an officially endorsed slogan. ‘You Do You.’
Public health is dead.
And with its demise has come the abandonment of accountability by elected officials and their bureaucrats.
It presents itself as a manifestation of pure incompetence.
Of course, incompetence can kill you just as quickly as evil.
I see how that reads as conspiratorial. But how is government strategy not a conspiracy against the Australian people: a strategy planned and executed at the highest level and not disclosed to the population?
“The policy of National Cabinet is to infect people with Covid-19. I’m not making this up; they are committed to developing ‘rich hybrid immunity’. A moment’s reflection on the situation in the US and the UK will show this doesn’t work, but nevertheless, that’s their policy” – Adjunct Professor Geoff Hanmer, University of Adelaide
The government seems go to extreme lengths to ensure the disease spreads and is minimised in discourse. Some of the ways in which this occurs are:
- failing to ensure that more than 28% of the population is vaccinated with four doses
- taking no steps to hasten the availability of a fifth dose
- failing to ensure the easy accessibility of vaccines and anti-virals
- circulating falsehoods that all aged care facilities are Covid safe
- not effectively communicating good practices to encourage precautions like masking
- deliberately ignoring the catastrophe that is Long Covid
- walking away from the need for people to isolate when infected
- failing to collect critical data relating to case numbers and related issues
- maintaining unnecessary secrecy about much of the data that is collected
- signalling that it is fine for people to go to work while ill with Covid
It is most concerning that the government seeks to protect the lie that Covid is basically over. That if it hasn’t gone, it’s about to go. That pandemics last for only three years. And anyway, that Covid is mild. And that it builds immunity.
None of these assertions is true. And the perpetrators know them not to be true.
The Albanese government frequently avoids telling the truth about Covid, eschews proper and established public health processes, and is secretive and often misleading on Covid related issues.
Have politicians opted for this course because they genuinely believe they are creating an immune nation?
Or because they hope the disease presents a relatively short term problem which will soon pass?
Or because, once the disease was allowed to spread widely, they believe community safety would be best assured by allowing a false view of reality to be disseminated?
Or because they feel that any option other than allowing the disease to spread will severely damage the economy?
The big lie that the pandemic was over, and that 'freedom' had truly arrived, took flight in mid-2022 promoted by prime minister Morrison who was emulated by most State premiers.
Of course the lie quickly fell apart because the pandemic was not over. Variant and sub-variant viruses continued to circulate. That the pandemic was over was a proposition that could never be sustained.
This lie and other misleading hypotheses needed to be publicly put down when Albanese was elected prime minister. He had an opportunity to level with the people. He did not.
This contradicted his frequent earlier statements of how he would deal the virus, many circulated on his @albo Twitter account, these amongst them:
More than a year into the pandemic, and with millions of Australians in another lockdown, it’s clear Scott Morrison doesn’t have a plan to beat Covid-19. He doesn’t have a plan – but I do (28 May 2021)
You all deserve better than this. We need a real plan to beat Covid-19, not more excuses and blame shifting from the Morrison government (23 June 2021)
Australians are waiting in lines for hours to get tested, with many being turned away, because this government has no national testing plan. Once again Scott Morrison is missing when Australians need a leader (29 December 2021). There is still no national testing plan, or it seems any other plan
Until politicians begin to implement a real plan that will take appropriate steps to slow the spread of Covid, and to contain it while other safeguards are available, the disease will unnecessarily lead to the deaths and long-term illnesses of many Australians.
For people who believe the virus will 'naturally' make itself extinct, it is worth recalling the Second Plague Pandemic in Europe which lasted for 500 years, beginning with the Black Death in the mid-14th century and continuing with devastating outbreaks until the mid-18th century.
It caused the death of 60% of the population of the UK and Europe.
It is surprising that business has allowed the situation to regress to an out of control disease.
There seems no recognition that Covid is a great disruptor which if not addressed will remain as a huge economic hazard.
Business has taken a most unbusinesslike approach to dealing with the virus. It seems sheer madness to allow it to flourish uncontested where there are acceptable, minimally or nil intrusive measures available.
“People are deliberately downplaying the level of harm in order to attempt to maintain certain sectors of the economy [including] travel and tourism, events, finance and banking, pubs, clubs and commercial property. It’s a shit sandwich for Grandma so Alan [Joyce] can get his bonus" - Professor Geoff Hanmer
For many other important people who should (and do) know better, is it affiliation or ego or influence or opportunism or profit or reward of some other kind that renders them mute on this issue, and ethically compromised.
And the situation is getting worse. Vaccines keep waning, most probably beyond useful protection. Variants are getting more numerous and ‘smarter’ - more evasive and more capable of attacking organs, including the brain.
“Vaccinations from double/triple are indeed waning [and] bivalent boosters are not being taken at a rate nearly sufficient enough to make a difference” - SARS News Network
“What if ‘living with Covid’ literally means living with it inside you for a long time? 2022 [was] the year we discovered Covid can persist in tonsils, the brain, the lymph nodes, the heart, generally anywhere. The year we found out that mild infection can cause 2% loss of grey matter in the brain. And it wasn’t front page news. And we carried on regardless” - Dr Claire Taylor, UK neuroscientist and a pioneer in the treatment of Long Covid
In August 2021, before Omicron arrived and before the reckless removal of precautions which allowed the virus to run free, data collected during Sydney’s Delta wave showed that about 20% of people who died from Covid had caught the virus in hospital.
There was no data for people who did not die. It is now estimated that there is a 40% chance of people admitted to hospital Covid-free catching it.
Professor Brett Mitchell, an infection control researcher at the University of Newcastle, told the Sydney Morning Herald that the lack of data underscores the ‘massive gap’ in the surveillance and public reporting of hospital-acquired infections.
It is believed that Covid is reported by only one third or one quarter of the people who catch it.
Australia’s political, health and business leaders have little interest in the collection and public exposure of this data. It might cause alarm and a greater demand for more action to control the spread of the virus which would be bad for business.
So hospitals can be dangerous places, but in the absence of officially mandated mitigation measures being anywhere amongst groups of people are more likely to expose you to the virus.
The protective measures are now all up to us regular people. There is no indication that governments will enforce even less intrusive mitigations, like mask-wearing, anytime soon
“Where was the 'abundance of caution' when they removed isolation, mask requirements [and] testing? This is just theatre. They couldn't care less about Covid” - Dan Jago, Melbourne-based physician and public health authority
“The true policy of the government is to discourage mask use, whatever individuals in the government might say” - Dr David Berger, physician and Covid authority
As for us, the, voters, we are expected to take full responsibility for protecting ourselves from Covid and deal with one of the hardest things of all – trying to persuade reluctant families to do likewise.
People who have continuously been told that Covid is mild and no more a threat than a cold or the flu.
But this propaganda is beginning reveal itself as two great persuaders - death and serious illness - affect more and more people.
One day, perhaps very soon, the balance will tip in favour of appropriate action to mitigate the spread of the disease.
Let’s hope it’s soon and is accompanied by mature governance, not crisis and panic.
And let’s hope the people we love will be OK.
Because if they’re not, until the virus itself imposes change, the official response is not to care.
Anthony Albanese did care once. But that was when he was in opposition and before he allowed the previous government’s health supremoes, Brendan Murphy and Paul Kelly, to continue their flawed Covid strategy under Labor.
"Do I go to work and make my colleagues sick, or do I stay at home and let my kids go hungry?" - Anthony Albanese, 1 August, 2020
With Covid variant XBB.1.5 variant (an “absolutely rocketing” US product informally known as Kraken) takes over the Australian Covid pool sometime soon, we’ll find we’re dealing with a virus that is highly infectious, highly immune evasive and binds better to cells.
Scientists at Columbia University in the US warn that variants in the XBB family could “result in a surge of breakthrough infections as well as re-infections.” XBB.1.5 is a particularly nasty virus.
“No need to panic about Omicron. It’s mild Covid and different to severe Covid” - Prof Brendan Murphy, federal health department head, 22 December 2021, later honoured with the award of the Order of Australia
Entrepreneur Colin Kinner has assembled what he calls, ‘A compilation of Queensland CHO Dr John Gerrard’s Greatest Hits’.
Gerrard, who has been in his job a little over a year, is something of a mascot of the Australian infectious disease and epidemiology brigade.
Better known for his forecasting errors and a television manner in which he seemed to enjoy delivering the bad news.
After the denizens of Twitter figured this man out, loudly offering their opinions as usual, his political masters seemed to tell him to minimise these public appearances.
But Kinner’s list of his blunders can stand as an insight into the overall appalling performance of our politicians and health officials when Covid rears its head.
Most of them are guilty of Gerrardian errors, and I have added some of their dreadful thinking to a list, which is likely far from exhaustive.
- Covid is mild
- It will provide a wall of immunity
- Children don’t get sick
- Covid waves are getting milder
- It will become endemic any day now (doubtful that it will ever become endemic)
- Covid is inevitable and necessary (an exemplary Gerrardian saying)
- Pandemics burn out after three years
- Covid takes the form of droplets (a serious error first perpetrated by the World Health Organisation; Covid is an aerosol, which spreads much more easily)
- Masks are not very effective (true of some masks but not N95s)
- People who get Covid are then themselves immune (there is a period of immunity that may last some weeks)
- People are infectious for only five days (it’s more like 10)
Australia is experiencing what professors Crabb and Toole describe as by far the worst public health disaster in Australia since World War II – and the national political and health leadership has done all it can to make it worse.
But prime minister Albanese begs to differ and says Covid is no more exceptional than the flu, a statement that is as arrogant as it is false.
Some 17,000 people dead and 500,000 with a chronic disease and the next killer virus is surreptitiously spreading. There are many multiples of 10 between the severity of those diseases.
Crabb and Toole write on another gap: “The gulf between Covid reality and the narrative from our leaders could hardly be wider. Put simply, the virus is winning.”
Three years on our leaders have made every mistake in the book and those of us who have watched them do and urged caution are thinking that this year, 2023, will be the year that community angst at increasing death and disease will grow and the politicians will respond.
To quote Crabb and Toole again, “Are we consigned to acceptance of this toll, to living with Covid and all its consequences no matter what?
"We hope not. It doesn’t need to be this way.”