WINNIPEG, CANADA - After two years of acknowledging the dangers of Covid-19, something happened with public health policy across the western world.
Federal and municipal governments in North America, Europe and Australia began lifting basic protections like vaccine and mask mandates, winding down public testing, ending contact tracing and withholding critical public health data, like case counts, hospitalisation numbers, wastewater results and even the size of local outbreaks.
WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus - “My message is clear: Do not underestimate this virus. It has and will continue to surprise us, and it will continue to kill”. To be regularly updated about the disease, link here to CNN’s free coronavirus newsletter
ATLANTA - It’s time to start thinking about our future with Covid-19, which has killed more than 6.8 million people around the world since the first case was identified three years ago.
While the virus remains a global health emergency, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Monday the pandemic is at a “transition point.”
MELBOURNE - Imagine it is 2030. Doctors in a regional hospital in country X note an expanding cluster of individuals with severe respiratory disease.
Rapid whole-genome sequencing identifies the disease-causing agent as a novel coronavirus. Epidemiological investigations suggest the virus is highly infectious, with most initial cases requiring hospitalisation.
The episode bears a striking resemblance to the Covid outbreak first detected in December 2019.
"The nurses would spend hours sitting with their dying patients holding their hands ensuring they weren’t alone in their final minutes of life" - Emma Reardon
MELBOURNE - The arrival just over a year ago of the new and different-looking Omicron variant of Covid-19 brought much hope that this would usher in the end of the pandemic.
That hope was based on two assumptions: that Omicron led to milder disease than earlier variants, and that its extraordinary capacity to spread fast would mean that the wider population would rapidly be exposed to this ‘milder’ virus and further boost the immunity that 95% of Australian adults already had through two doses of the vaccine.
NOOSA –In an explosive article, a prominent Australian journalist has said the seven-month old Albanese Labor government is already “letting its moral mandate wither away”.
Jack Waterford, a much admired former editor of The Canberra Times, now a regular contributor to the Pearls and Irritations website, says Albanese has been excessively slow in building momentum for change and seems oblivious of the urgent need for it.
Waterford observes that “administrative reform is in the doldrums and focused on rhetorical fluff” and “there is no talk about accountability, individual and collective responsibility, or about moral cowardice”.
OzSAGE is an independent network of Australian experts from a broad range of sectors relevant to the well-being of the Australian population. It aims to be an additional diverse and multidisciplinary resource formulating advice on public health and other policy matters relevant to Covid-19 control
SYDNEY - OzSAGE calls on National Cabinet to urgently revise the Strategic Framework for Transitioning Covid-19 Measures released on 9 December 2022.
While OzSAGE supports the intent of the strategic principles, many of the accompanying statements contained in the framework have serious inaccuracies and are not supported by the evidence or current real-life experiences.
BA.4.6, a subvariant of Omicron, quickly gaining traction in the US and the UK, is able to evade immunity acquired from vaccination and prior infection. It is likely to be followed by BA.2.75.2 - an even more evasive subvariant (Illustration by Andrii Vodolazhskyi)
NOOSA - The full weight of nine governments and the public health bureaucracy continue to succeed in persuading the Australian population that Covid is not something to worry too much about.
One result of this nonsense is that in five of Australia’s eight states and territories, Covid infection is showing positive growth, with Queensland and South Australia looking likely to soon burst out into major expansion.
“The rodeo ain’t over till the bull riders ride,” wrote Washington Post sports editor Dan Cook in June 1978, giving birth to a popular cliché. The end of Covid has been called many times, some people even believe the propaganda that’s it’s over. You can be well advised, it's not over till it’s over.
Covid screening in India where cases of BA.2.75 (Centaurus) are rising (Mohd Arhaan Archer AFP)
KATHLEEN DOHENY | Medscape
NEW YORK - Will Omicron's newest subvariant, BA.2.75, be the next one to worry about?
It was first found in early June in India and has now been detected in more than 20 countries, and researchers are waiting to learn whether it will substantially elevate case numbers after a wave of infections with BA.5.
Jeffrey Sachs highlights the damaging US mindset that the world should revolve around it, which is undermining the need for regional cooperation to get on top of the huge problems facing the planet
KEITH JACKSON | Drawn from John Menadue’s Pearls and Irritations and other sources
NOOSA - In this speech made by Jeffrey Sachs ahead of late June’s NATO Summit in Madrid, he offers a view of a world in a great mess and which needs to renew diplomacy, negotiation, cooperation and collaboration to solve the immense problems humanity is facing.
Sachs, a professor of sustainable development and professor of health policy at Columbia University in USA, has served as an adviser to three United Nations secretaries-general and is an economist who advised on economic reforms in Russia and several Eastern European nations in the 1990s.
An Open Letter, focused on freedom of speech for doctors, has been sent to all Australian health ministers after being signed by 18 scientists and doctors and 1,400 citizens. The letter seeks an independent audit of the practices of the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Authority
The ultimate responsibility for botching Australia's response to Covid rests with this body - the so-called national cabinet that is failing to stem a rapidly escalating death toll
NOOSA – Earlier this month in The silencing of Covid truth teller, Dr Berger, I wrote of a doctor who has been forced to submit to an unAustralian Communist style re-education program and was publicly humiliated by a government body.
David Berger has been forced to submit to a Communist style re-education program and humiliation where he has to explain how he has behaved discourteously, unprofessionally and offended the community. If he does not comply, this skilled, ethical and courageous doctor will face deregistration because he told the truth
Dr David Berger - Covid truth teller who the Australian authorities are trying to silence as they seek to cover up accountability for over 10,000 deaths and hundreds of thousands of seriously ill victims
NOOSA - There has been an outpouring of support for Australian doctor David Berger, whose social media activity has been censored and registration as a doctor threatened because he tells the truth about the incompetence of the Australian government’s handling of Covid.
Dr Berger has been an acute reporter, knowledgeable analyst and severe critic of how Australian governments have failed the public in their handling of Covid.
NOOSA - As Covid spreads its tentacles to embrace half the Australian population and 50 people die each day, Keith joins the plague-riddled crowd with a series of amazing tweets including this one that has accumulated 13,000 impressions so far: "I dedicate my maiden bout of Covid to the diabolical duo of Queensland premier Palaszczuk & Chief Health Officer Gerrard. Now I get to find out how it blends with my ME/CFS. Ah, what a time to be alive, however temporarily."
This blog will have an even more intermittent quality over coming days. But Keith will fire the odd shot on Twitter (which we also run in the right hand column). Like these three, written before Keith knew he was ill: "This truculent silence by the authorities is like something we have never seen. It's a form of denial; a group neurosis. The stunned silence rendered by a Covid crisis which should turn into shocked action but in this case has spawned a protracted cowardly muteness."
Or this: "The PNG government has given up on Covid. This is not understood by Australians yet, but so has their government given up. Many more people will die or succumb to chronic illness unless this insane denialism changes. Vaccinations were never enough."
And a demand for scalps: "Queensland Chief Health Officer should be fired & Premier Palaszczuk should step down. They have not only failed in their duty to keep the community safe, their policies have enabled the continuing unchecked spread of Covid leading to 1,200 deaths and uncountable lifelong chronic illnesses so far in Queensland alone."
CANBERRA -The rapid spread of the Omicron variant within the Pacific has seen community transmission in the previously Covid-19-free countries of Palau, Kiribati, Tonga, and Solomon Islands.
The Omicron variant has led to a significant increase in the number of cases throughout the Pacific region to start 2022, with the majority of countries now seeing community transmission of Covid or having cases in quarantine.
Lining up for clinic at a rural hospital in PNG (Chris McCall)
CHRIS McCALL | The Lancet
INNISFAIL, QLD - The Covid-19 pandemic in Papua New Guinea shows no sign of ending, and its worst legacy might be its effect on other diseases, such as tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, and malaria. Chris McCall reports.
Among wooden huts overlooking a broad, muddy river, volunteer Arnolio Palima detects and treats four to five cases of malaria a month in his village of Mipan using rapid tests and boxes of Mala-One, a combination of the anti-malaria drugs artemether and lumefantrine.
NOOSA – OzSAGE is an independent network of Australian health experts formed in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
‘Independent’ in this context means that OzSAGE is beyond the grip of politicians, health bureaucrats and others who have demonstrated great incompetence in managing the pandemic and also repeatedly failed to tell the Australian people the full truth about Covid and its effects.
MELBOURNE - In mid-October Dr Clement Malau, a Harvard-educated public health specialist and former secretary of the Papua New Guinea health department, was alarmed to discover he had gone viral. Only he hadn’t.
NOOSA – I was interested to read that Papua New Guinea’s shadow health minister Elias Kapavore, who represents the good people of Pomio in parliament, has calculated that the PNG recovery rate from Covid is an unbelievable 99%.
The global recovery rate is 90%, which happens to be the same in Australia. So why, with Covid on the rampage through PNG, is the recovery rate so high?
Most pastors from Pentecostal churches are not educated in either biblical studies or science, and being neither scientists nor medical doctors they are not educated in the causes, effects and treatment of disease or in how vaccines work.
NOOSA – Papua New Guinea’s health system, precarious at the best of times, has began to buckle under the remorseless impact of Covid.
And PNG Attitude's coverage both here on the blog and on Twitter has been viewed by thousands of people and received hundreds of comments and observations from readers.
I've managed to read most of these and have curated just a few, which I hope will give the flavour of this past, dreadful week, for Papua New Guineans and their many friends in Australia and around the world.
Roadside buai seller, Enga Province - PNG showed complacency, avoidance and denial when it needed to be getting ready for Covid's onslaught (gailhampshire, Flickr)
TUMBY BAY - While the Covid-19 pandemic wreaks havoc, misery and death across the world, it is also serving to highlight major shortcomings in governance almost everywhere.
This is nowhere more prominent than in nations that have chosen the path of neoliberalism, with its emphasis on economic growth and the market and belief that government should keep out of the way and let society look after itself.
Rowan Callick at Griffith University - "Covid's impact is exacerbated in PNG by the failings of its government, corroded by corruption and by corruption's cousin, disinterest"
MELBOURNE - The anguish of our closest neighbours is palpable as the Delta strain of Covid runs riot in Papua New Guinea.
As so often before, the plight of the nine million Papua New Guineans may derive from an ‘act of God’ – a natural disaster or, as now, a pandemic – but its impact is exacerbated by the failings of its government, corroded by corruption and by corruption's cousin, disinterest.
“Unbelievably too many unprecedented deaths of the loved ones. My heartfelt condolences to the grieving family in this time of sorrow” - recent Facebook post by one of Win’s friends
“Prominent public servants that have spent countless years serving this beautiful province, Enga, are dying.… Over the last one week, we have lost six people that have dedicated their entire life, with kids growing up as Engans. God have mercy on us” - recent Facebook post by one of Win’s friends
PORT MORESBY – Many people aren’t tested, but I personally suspect we are seeing Covid-induced deaths.
Some we definitely know are Covid-19 – one of my colleagues was tested, had Covid and died.
PORT MORESBY - Tributes have poured in for a doctor in Papua New Guinea’s Western Province who died last week, in the country’s first death of a healthcare worker from Covid-19 confirmed by the government.
Dr Naomi Kori Pomat, 60, the director for curative health services at the Western Provincial Health Authority, was medevaced to Port Moresby after contracting the virus and died on 19 September.