Dan O'Heirity

Academics Really Should Be More Critical of Covid-19

It’s 10.30 PM on a Sunday night and to be honest I’d rather be playing Doom 3 BFG to distract myself from thoughts about having to survive another excruciating week at work that will involve having to deal with morons who have jumped on the Covid-19 bandwagon. Honestly, I’m an academic at a reasonably well known Australian University and I would have thought that my colleagues would have taken a slightly more critical perspective on the pandemic. However, such is not the case. Rather, they have bought into the Covid-19 horror narrative that is being peddled across Australia and my occasional attempts to suggest that matters may not be quite as bad as we are being led to believe have been met with a stony silence.

Even more irksome than the lack of intelligent questioning is the way that far too many of my fellow academics have been scrabbling to show that they have a useful function in supporting the university’s efforts to continue to teach in conditions where students cannot come onto campus. I get why they are trying to surface their worth. Australian universities are in dire financial trouble and hundreds of staff are being sacked at each university. This is true of my institution which will be removing 400 positions and that’s just the one’s that we know about. So of course staff want to appear to be indispensable to their respective institutions. This has led to a workplace culture where one now feels pressured to conform to the “all hands to the pump” narrative that has come to define the workplace environment.

Victoria Declares a State of Emergency

Now to the story of the day which unfolded this afternoon and culminated this evening in an announcement from the Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews. As the afternoon unfolded, multiple news outlets were reporting that Australia was going to record an increase of around 650 new Covid-19 cases, meaning the daily figure for new Covid-19 cases has remained in triple digits for 27 straight days. Across Australia, there are now 6,555 active cases with 6,293 of the active cases being in the state of Victoria. There are 44 cases with people in Intensive Care Units (ICUs). There have been 201 deaths from Covid-19 Australia.

The report also flagged that Victoria would go into stage 4 lockdown and conjectured that this would likely mean that only essentials shops such as supermarkets and service stations would remain open. Residents would have to stay in their suburbs and students would return to home learning. Finally, there would be increased police controls to ensure that people conformed to the new regulations.

The conjecture became reality the Victorian premier Daniel Andrews delivering his speech on the stage 4 lockdown. I listened in utter disbelief as he announced that the stage 4 lockdowns would include an 8PM-5PM curfew in Metro Melbourne. People breaking the curfew could be liable to a fine of $10,000. At an individual level, reasons for leaving the house under the stage 4 lockdown have not changed from the stage 3 lockdown conditions. We are allowed out to shop, for exercise, for medical reasons and to engage in work / education that cannot be conducted from home. The changes that have happened under stage 4 lockdown measures relate to regulations around which industries / business can operate and under what conditions, closure of sports centres, restrictions on ceremonies such as weddings and funerals and limits on travel. In terms of an overall timeline, Victoria has been subject to a lockdown since early July. Here we are in early August and matters are not getting any better.

There Is No Justification for the Orwellian Move To Curfew Conditions

I usually ignore comments under YouTube videos but a number of comments under the video above pretty much hit the mark.

The Covid scamdemic has single handedly eradicated heart disease, cancer, influenza and old age as causes of death – miraculous !!!

The pandemic only exists in the media, this is no pandemic when only 0.0008% of Australia has died of this with underlying health issues“.

In 2017, 250,000 Aussies caught flu and 1,200 died, where was the concern then?”

Australians – start demanding a breakdown of these figures. On the odd occasion details are reported, it seems everyone who’s dying is 60+ with a pre-existing conditions. 200 elderly dead is nothing. Less than seasonal flu“.

The population of Australia currently stands at 25,257,110 and if we take the figure of 201 deaths then the figure in the YouTube comment of 0.0008% of Australians dying from Covid-19 is absolutely correct. I know that the claim about influenza cases and influenza deaths is correct because I have checked the figures myself. Finally, it has long been known that particular groups including the elderly and / or those with pre-existing health conditions are most susceptible to Covid-19. However, I would agree that it is extremely difficult to find age and health data for those who have died in Australia from Covid-19. However, I will keep searching and one day I will present a comprehensive figure for Covid-19 deaths in terms of the ages of those who have died.

There is one obvious line of argument that has been missed here. Victoria had to go into lockdown for the good of the country because a major spread would see tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of Australians dying from the virus. I don’t have the data modelling that would allow for a prediction of what would happen should the virus be allowed to runs it course. However, according to my preferred data source Australia has reported 16,905 Covid-19 cases with 197 deaths giving a death rate of 1.16%. If we were to see 200,000 cases in Australia then assuming the same death rate there would be 2,320 deaths. This number is reasonably high but remember that fatalities tend to occur amongst the elderly and amongst those with pre-existing medical conditions.

Ring fencing the most vulnerable members of society means that the death rate could be kept considerably lower that would be the case if we just let the virus run its course in Australia. As further confirmation that this strategy might be tenable, of the 5,873,788 active cases worldwide, 5,807,509 (99%) are in a mild condition and 66,279 (1%) are in a serious or critical condition. On this basis, if the entire population of Australia were to contract Covid-19, then 252,571 people would be in a serious or critical condition. This is the absolute worst case scenario, one that will never eventuate. Furthermore, in this scenario only a fraction of those in a serious or critical conditions would die and, returning to the ring fencing argument, the number of deaths could be further reduced by protecting those most vulnerable to the virus. It is in this context that we have been subject to the Orwellian measure of police on the streets enforcing curfews. I wonder what will come next.

First Published August 2nd, 2020

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s