Updated: Aug 1, 2021
Three researchers from the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China became sick with a flu-like illness and sought hospital care in November 2019, according to various reports including a relatively serious U.S. intelligence document obtained by The Wall Street Journal’ in May 2021.
In retrospect, why did we not hear of this at the time? ‘No need’ an official presumably determined. ‘China reported the first COVID-19 case in Wuhan on Dec. 8, 2019, according to CNN.
Gradually there were reports of a new virus, Covid-19, though at first no-one in the west knew much of the pandemic beginning to fire up in China.
The first appearance of COVID-19 in the west was very early in 2020. By March of that year, illnesses were still low but from then on numbers began to rise. By July 20 there were 200,000 confirmed cases, and by October 400,000. By November 600,000 and by December 800,000. From early 2021 there was a gradual reduction which reached 400,000 in February, with a return to 800,000 in April. This peak was lower than the previous peak, perhaps indicating the positive effect of vaccination.
Deaths followed confirmed cases, but in July 2021 cases and deaths may be rising again. Progress report shows total deaths over 4 million but with poor statistics in poorer countries, this figure may underestimate the true losses.
Australia as a large island started in a small way and reached approximately 900 deaths during 2020, mostly in the state of Victoria. In 2021 cases and deaths were very low everywhere until in Mid-year it was NSW’s turn. With the new form of the virus in the community NSW cases and deaths ramped up. Then some thoughtless un-vaccinated truck drivers came from NSW to Victoria and then South Australia, spreading the virus into Victoria.
NSW is now in lockdown and it looks like a situation designed to expand in cases and deaths. The last lockdown in Victoria was the fifth such lockdown, with the second lockdown lasting over 100 days. It seems to thoughtful people that Australia’s states are attempting the impossible task of virus suppression.
In addition, a new political innovation has been created, consisting of a ‘national cabinet’ whose leaders are State Premiers and the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison. Sadly, politics and greed, as well as failed attempts by State Premiers’ to totally supress the virus have dogged the National effort. The Labor states, Victoria, Queensland and to a small extent Western Australia (large scale iron ore producer), have attempted to gouge the Federal printing presses and in doing this are seeking to destroy Morrison’s chances at the next election.
The Prime minister did not include the opposition leader in his national Cabinet. This might have worked better as there would have been a chance the Federal opposition might have decided fighting the virus would be better than fighting the government.
I do not blame our state leaders for every weakness. The Federal government was slow to find vaccines. Astra Zeneca was the chosen vaccine, with slow progress with other, more modern vaccines like Pfizer and Moderna. To make matters worse, AZ carried a small risk of creating clots in peoples’ brains and other organs. Small numbers, even tiny numbers, but enough to create ‘vaccine hesitancy’. There was a lot of argy bargy by senior politicians. For a while, AZ was meant to be for people over 50 years old, then only for those over 60. Then people were told that any adult after consultation with their doctor could have AZ. But by then the damage was done and few were signing up for it reasoning (correctly) that since there was little chance of contracting Covid they would wait for Pfizer. As a result, the fresh outbreaks in NSW and Victoria, pose a significant risk to public health.
A further set of accidents was not to insist that people in some jobs, notably workers in old person’s homes, needed to be vaccinated. In 2020 most deaths were of old people, and some state premiers made decisions preventing people from seeing their dying parents, for example, that were brutal in their effect.
Overall, the biggest weakness was the constant recital of a view by politicians that ‘we are only doing what the science says.’ What rubbish. Clearly one can discern decisions that were not just based simply on ‘scientific’ advice: Football teams travelling the country, celebrities arriving from off-shore, Diplomats and other highly regarded people excused from hotel quarantine.
In the case of Covid the Government has a duty to accept advice from medical experts but it also has a duty to consider other impacts (eg psychiatric and business) as well. The people have elected their leaders to make decisions for the nation as a whole not to simply outsource all complex problems. Very few large policy issues have outcomes contained solely within a narrow band. This is why we have elected governments: to look at the impacts of different policies on a range of stakeholders and undertake the (admittedly difficult) task of deciding which path to take. If all important decisions are to be outsourced to experts then what is the role of our elected representatives? `