Let’s start by rewinding about a year. Lockdowns were imposed as temporary measures to “flatten the curve”. This was to enable health systems to cope with cases as they arose – not to end up with no cases. Australia had such remarkable success in its quest that the “curve” is as flat as the Nullarbor Plane. This was largely due to a low population density, favourably warm climate and being an island. Closing the border to mainland China in February 2020 likely helped too.
The prediction, like most of the doom and gloom, that Australia would run out of ICU beds by April 4 2020 didn’t come to pass.
Yet lockdowns, as were imposed in Perth on the ANZAC Day weekend, are still used in response to literally a single positive test in a person who is not unwell enough to warrant going to hospital let alone in need of an ICU bed.
A week later and we find that there are another three positive tests. The list of places that those who tested positive have been has stretched to over 70. No real surprise – people go about their daily lives. That there are no new cases is met with amazement and the experts cannot understand why. They attribute it to lockdowns or masks.
There is another explanation that the “experts” seem to have forgotten.
Cast your mind back to the launch of the original Covid safe app. This was a federal government initiative and was part of a trifecta of steps that would lead us back to “normal life”. The app would recognise that it had been in contact with another app if there had been close proximity (under 1.5m) for a minimum of 15 minutes. In turn this would allow tracking of contacts if a positive test emerged.
The key in this, which has clearly been forgotten, is close proximity for a continuous 15 minutes. It was not going to register is you went to the same place hours later or even if you were in the same place but more than 1.5m away from the person with the positive test.
Somehow, we have completely forgotten this. That those who have been at the same locations are advised to present for a test is entirely reasonable. That there are no positive tests consequently is entirely predictable based on the nature and behaviour of a respiratory virus.
To be clear, anyone who stood next to the individual with a positive test for 15 minutes at a shop or other venue may conceivable test positive although it is not a given. Someone who went to the same venue at another time or was not in close contact would be extremely unlikely to test positive.
This transmission pattern has been known for over a year. Yet the experts seem surprised (and relieved) when what is predictable occurs.
The notion that correlation equals causation has taken hold. The lack of positive tests is attributed to the wearing of masks and to a three-day lockdown. That the lack of positive tests reflects the behaviour of the virus is lost completely.
The mask issue becomes even more interesting when you consider the fact that these must be worn indoors but can be taken off to eat or drink. Thus, you wear your mask into a venue but when you sit down and start drinking water you can take it off. And nobody, but nobody is putting it on and off between bites or sips.
Forcing people going for a walk by themselves in the great outdoors to wear a mask because a walk (for many) is not deemed vigorous exercise makes no sense. There is no easier situation than being outdoors to keep 1.5m apart if, god forbid, you come across a fellow walker.
Meanwhile the vaccination roll out gathers pace. In Australia we are at over two million doses. In the USA over 230 million doses have been administered. This represents over two thirds of the population and nine times the entire Australian population. Over 30% of Americans have had two doses and are deemed fully vaccinated.
States which have fully opened such as Texas and Florida have lower numbers of positive tests than states like California which continue with assorted mandates. In an interesting twist, the once popular governor is now subject to a recall election.
Europe is looking to open its borders to vaccinated American citizens this northern summer.
And yes, less prosperous countries like India are still grappling with outbreaks.
It is clear that countries and jurisdictions are learning that they need to live with the virus – and are doing just that. Locking down a city for a single positive test would be regarded as extraordinary in most parts of the world.
The fact remains that the virus cannot and will not ever be eliminated. Vaccination appears to significantly reduce serious infections. This reduces the infection fatality rate even further and eases pressure on health systems.
Perspective has been the biggest casualty of Covid 19. We have lost it. It is time we found it and acted in a proportionate manner.
Medical Doctor, author, speaker, media presenter and health industry consultant, Dr Joe Kosterich wants you to be healthy and get the most out of life.
Joe writes for numerous medical and mainstream publications, is clinical editor at Medical Forum Magazine, and is also a regular on radio and television.
Joe is Medical Advisor to Medicinal Cannabis Company Little Green Pharma, Chairman of Australian Tobacco Harm Reduction Association and sits on the board of Arthritis and Osteoporosis WA. He is often called to give opinions in medico legal cases.