Sloppy thinking about vaccine mandates

Michelle Grattan has an uncharacteristically sloppy piece in The Conversation about vaccine mandates. It reads as if she’s chatted to some people in the government,then phoned in an article reflecting their confused position. Among the most notable failings

First after mentioning the decision by canning company SPC to require vaccination for its employees, she says, of other firms that might follow suit:

But the legal position is unclear. In the absence of a public health order, they would be relying on directions to employees being judged lawful and reasonable. Inevitably there would be court challenges

Grattan ignores the point raised by SPC, that if an employee caught the virus at worked and died, the directors would be open to criminal prosecution for manslaughter. On the face of it, that’s a bigger problem than an unfair dismissal action, and a fairly conclusive defence for any company imposing a mandate (other than on remote workers). Maybe there’s a counterpoint, but Grattan (in common with a fair bit of commentary that seems to be based on info from the same sources)ignores it.

Then she says

It is not as simple as “no jab no pay” for the vaccination of children, which only denies government benefits. In the COVID case we’re talking, in the extreme, about people’s access to jobs and livelihoods.

She appears not to have kept up with the shift to “no jab no play” laws which excludes unvaccinated children from kindergarten

Grattan concludes that “Incentives may be helpful, although they shouldn’t be as expensive or extensive as Anthony Albanese’s $300 for everyone vaccinated.” No basis is given for this judgement. If we accept estimates that the Sydney lockdown is costing $1 billion a week, Albanese’s policy would only need to save six weeks of lockdown in one big state to be justified. Again, there may be an argument but “that’s what people in the government are saying” isn’t one.

As I said at the start, Grattan is usually better than this. Let’s hope for quick return to form.

43 thoughts on “Sloppy thinking about vaccine mandates

  1. If one thousand dollars was offered per person to get vaccinated it would be basically insignificant. It’s a redistribution, not a cost. If the government coffers run low, all they have to do is cancel a planned tax cut and we’re back to square one. Our politicians would have to be a bunch of idiots to think some future tax cut is more important than human lives.

  2. So Grattan is supporting Morrison’s line that Albanese’s $300 payment proposal is too expensive.
    Similarly, I expect more of the old “But where is the money coming from?” strategy from the LNP as the election approaches. Ludicrous, but politically effective.

  3. There’s lots of sloppy thinking about vaccines going on in the Federal Government and the Department of Health (Acronym DoH). I will get to the mandate issue last.

    This article makes it seem like doctors are okay with the Moderna decision but is it only their RACGP leadership that is okay with it? Scroll down and read the comments from doctors. Looks like some are not so happy.

    It seems to be all of a piece with removing discretion from doctors to treat and prescribe for their patients on the basis of each patient’s needs and treating the whole patient rather than just the immune system. At least one Astrazeneca hub nurse on the north-side of Brisbane has written, on an online resource, words to the effect that: “Patients should not bring in notes from doctors saying that they should be given Pfizer (outside of DoH specified age groups for Pfizer). We (the nurses) have been threatened with de-registration if we do that. So don’t ask.”

    It is not okay for GPs to be refused the capacity to use their professional discretion in treating and prescribing for their patients by LNP edict and DoH bureaucrats. This is being done to cover up the cracks of a bungled vaccine ordering and rollout program and to penny-pinch. People are being forced to drop into the cracks to fill the cracks. There are people over 60 (not talking about myself in this case) who have enough preconditions and un-diagnosable conditions for an AstraZeneca vaccination to be of concern. So far as I can tell they cannot get a discretionary and precautionary Pfizer shot prescribed by their doctor that will be actioned by a hub.

    In my own case, I cannot get any medical advice as to whether it is advisable or not to get an Astrazenca shot in the middle of a series of major eye operations which so far have required 6 to 8 weeks resting recovery at home each time. It appears to me that the medical profession has been made reluctant to give medical opinions in the arena of COVID-19 shots or even banned (on pain of de-registration too?) from giving opinions or prescriptions that stray from the government line. When the neoliberals intrude on professional judgement we are really in trouble.

    The mandate issue.

    Scott Morrison’s latest statements on the mandate issue illustrate, as usual, that his government’s only concern in any decision-making is with the impact on business and business owners. There is no consideration of the effects on workers or the rest of the population. Thus no concern that workers and others might die, only a concern that employers might be sued for that. Even the ACTU does not appear to have its head on straight over this issue.

    We mandate many things. Seat-belts, bike helmets and the covering of the loins (at least) in public. Various vaccinations have also been mandated historically and recently for at least specific groups. People now have to get mandatory flu vaccines to visit parents and grandparents in aged care homes. COVID-19 vaccination will need to be mandated almost across the board while providing a selection of vaccines for choice and prescription. Of course, medical exemptions should apply. We will need over 90% vaccinated from school age up plus other measures to combat even delta and worse is likely coming. The COVID-19pathogen and pandemic will very likely get worse. Masks will likely need to be mandated indefinitely for some situations

  4. If the vaccinated wanted to play real hardball with the anti-vaxxer idiots, there are several ways to go. One: triage for hospital iCU beds. If you are an alcoholic you go to the back of the queue for a liver transplant, right? What’s the difference? Two. in insurance-based systems like the US, deny coverage for contributory negligence, or double the copay. Probably out of bounds, but discussion of such options might scare a few into sense.

  5. I don’t usually comment but I feel very moved to say something. I can’t agree that Michelle Grattan is usually better than this. Her journalism and political analysis have gone noticeably downhill since her short time at the Canberra Times. A lot of what she writes exhibits those same flaws you point out here – it’s sloppy, superficial and very often parrots LNP modes of thought. From being a person who read everything she wrote, I now find it better to simply avoid reading anything by her. And the fact she writes regularly for The Conversation, to which I subscribe, hasn’t changed my view of her journalism.

  6. Because we did not play hardball with the virus we are left with a situation where the choices are all bad, to greater or lesser degrees. The SARSCoV2 virus should have been eradicated early on before it spread too far.The task then would have been to press on to eradicate it in the few countries where it had become endemic. Instead, we let it rage all around the world in a global pandemic and become endemic in nearly every country on earth.

    How did we go from eradicating smallpox and polio to giving up on SARSCov2 and running up the white flag on pandemic diseases? [1] The answer has to do with globalization and neoliberalism, as much as it has to do with respiratory transmission. In becoming a globalized, semi-borderless system we set the stage for this kind of disease spread. The scale of voluntary people movements as global travel had simply become too great. Plus, neoliberal economics, in its unwisdom, had cut spending on public health, disease control and medical research.

    When the pandemic started, the disease was misjudged totally, not by the virologists and epidemiologists, but by the capitalists and their bought politicians who preferred to keep making money via BAU while people died. This is a sick system. That’s why it is killing people and killing itself.

    It is not enough to point the finger at the “anti-vaxxer idiots”. We also have to point the finger at the corporate neoliberal idiots, politicians and all the idiots who vote for neoliberal politicians. We even have to point the finger at ourselves as idiots for allowing this system to go this wrong.

    Now, because we didn’t eradicate, we are forced on to another kind of idiocy as a “least worst” alternative. I am referring to a rushed vaccine development and rushed vaccination effort. Being forced to do this creates casualties too. The vaccines are very good but their side-effects are not fully understood.

    At this stage, we have no idea how many ongoing vaccinations we will need to keep SARSCoV2 at bay. We will need annual boosters at least. We also have no idea whether SARSCoV2 will mutate and evolve to become more dangerous or more benign. Actually, in the short to mid-term, the odds are that more and more dangerous variants will arise demonstrating higher contagiousness and lethality plus greater immune-escape and vaccine-escape. It is very likely this will go down as the worst pandemic in human history, if there is still human history after all this and climate change.

    Right back at the start, only 18 or 19 months ago, we had a choice which we didn’t have with smallpox and polio. We could have stopped this scourge at the outset. We failed. The costs, human and economic, will go on for years and maybe even decades. I am grateful I will able to get vaccinated, if I don’t die first. I am furious that I have to get vaccinated with what are still essentially experimental vaccines. All of this was avoidable if we had had any wisdom in our political economy systems. But we have little to none it appears.


    1. I can remember both my oral vaccine for polio and my “scratch” inoculation for smallpox as a school child. IIRC, the smallpox inoculation was a scratch by a needle not an injection. It turned into a little sore or scab. The scab fell off and people of my age are left with a little round, raised scar on the skin over the left arm deltoid muscle..

  7. Well written as usual. I don’t know how we could have eradicated this virus at the start, to stop the scourge at the outset. What do you think would have succeeded? ( I also am of an age so that I remember those at school immunisations).

  8. David Smith,

    “On 30 January 2020 following the recommendations of the Emergency Committee, the WHO Director General declared that the outbreak constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).” – WHO.

    Following the above declaration, it ideally would have taken a global lock-down from some time in February 2020 as the earliest feasible point. Stopping all non-essential international travel in early in Feb.really was a near necessity, not only in retrospect, but also realized at the time in the predictions by some epidemiologists and other commentators.

    The WHO only belatedly, on March 11, 2020, declared the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak a global pandemic. This was really due to decades of neoliberal pressure on the WHO to not call pandemics in general (mostly flu pandemics). Even hard global, national, state and local lock-downs from that point could conceivably have put many countries on the path to eradication and kept many other countries COVID-19 free. Even if eradication had not been achieved from that point to now, the total deaths and economic damage would have been much lower.

    The best viroloogists, epidemiologists and economists (John Quiggin being an example of the latter) predicted quite early on, certainly within the time span of Feb. to Apr. 2020 inclusive that eradication, or as strong a suppression as possible, was the best policy. Empirically that has been proven since by the much lower death rates and better economic performances in countries which practiced eradication/strong suppression policies.

    Letting the pandemic “rip” by default or by decided policy has had long term and very disastrous consequences. Not only have we seen high death rates and high economic damage, we have greatly facilitates the virus’s rapid evolution to far more dangerous strains. This will likely continue now, probably for years. If a serious VOC (variant of concern) doesn’t arise out of Indonesia or S.E. Asia I will be very surprised. An enteric variant could even arise in Africa or elsewhere. That would be even more disastrous for third world countries I’m not a virologist or, epidemiologist but I can read and understand what they write.

    What would have succeeded? Everyone had to do what China and New Zealand did from the outset in their own ways. China’s model is socialist-authoritarian and N.Z.’s model is social democracy. We can note that both have populations which comply with their society’s cooperative assumptions whichever way that compliance is brought about. If stopping this virus was impossible, it was only impossible because of neoliberalism. Society’s low on the neoliberalism scale stopped it or near-stopped it, at least until the Delta variant came along to exhibit not just higher contagiousness, immune escape and vaccine escape but also NPI (non-pharmaceutical interventions) escape.

    As a final note, it appears that short sharp lock-downs work best because (a) they stop the exponential growth of infections at the outset and (b) people can tolerate a series of short, sharp long-downs with respites between them better than long drawn out lock-downs of slowly tightening restrictions. Gladys Berijiklian’s fool’s gold standard approach is not working and she still doesn’t understand anything about this pandemic. Ditto for Scot Morrison.

  9. Thanks Ikonoclast. It was clear at the beginning and more obvious now that the lockdown approach is the most effective course.

  10. I clicked on the “news” thing on Google and saw Australian politicians are talking about tax cuts. Have they got raisins in their braincases? Is Stalin printing them special newspapers that only contain good news? Last I heard NSW was failing to contain a deadly pandemic in a state with perhaps one-third the number of vaccinations required to keep it under control. Politicians should be saying they will do whatever is necessary to save Australian lives, not promising to take a slightly smaller piece of paychecks in the future. This is removing access to resources required to stop a disease now that is killing Australians and other fellow human beings as I type.

  11. Grattan grates, always.

    James, alcoholics suffer an illness, anti-vaxxers an ideation (I think alcoholism has been in the DSM and equivalents from the get go, but anti-vaxxer as such may not be… yet). Otherwise the differences are in degrees of resource scarcity and chances of successful outcomes. Scarcity of suitable donor organs mostly limits the number of liver transplants done, so there’s no organ nor effort to waste on a poor chance. Additionally, transplants are far more resource intensive in that they require several specialist medical/surgical teams, facilities, and equipment, plus the ICU team(s). Transplant patient survival chances must therefore be maximised, hence the recipient screening and ranking. Anti-vaxxers in ICU, whether for acute covid-19 related disease or for something other, when otherwise comparable, now often have similar chances to anyone else of benefiting from their ICU stay. What if an anti-vaxxer being treated in ICU due to, say, road trauma is infected by SARS-CoV-2 whilst there or on the way there? Does the ICU pull the plug on them? A natural infection generally confers as good or better immunity than a vaccine due to better immune system memory of multiple sites on the virus rather than just one, and targeting just that one, as now, increases the selection pressure for nastier variants to evolve doesn’t it?

    Ikonoclast, those vaccines use/d live/attenuated/dead whole viruses that present multiple sites for targeting – think carpet smart bombing, not muzzle loaded sidearm. And mass vaccination wasn’t being conducted during a pandemic as now, but rather during breakouts through the communal background resistance.

    Gladys grifts, always:
    Anatomy of the NSW outbreak | The Gladys Berejiklian daily pressers

    Swollen Pickles

  12. As an initial response the hard lockdown works but in the long term it’s not as effective as mass vaccination.

    The soft/failed lockdown in Sydney allowed delta to proliferate nationally, which has sharpened the demand for vaccines.

    I’m hopeful that we will achieve high vaccination rates by this Xmas.

  13. It is worth pointing out that Australia could have eradicated or seriously suppressed COVID-19 indefinitely through lock-downs, testing, isolation, quarantine, masks, distancing and other NPI (non pharmaceutical interventions) alone. And when the lock-downs were effective and the nation in the period after the effective lock-down(s) the other measures could be and were implemented with a relatively light touch.

    In the period from about 18 Sept 2020 to about June 15 2021 (between the second and third waves) Australia kept cases below 50 a day and this count INCLUDES imported cases of people returning or coming to Australia. The Federal Govt. had and has a lax “revolving-door” policy where certain people were able to go out and come back to Australia multiple times, even while we were trying to bring back expatriates who wished to come back. In addition, the Federal Govt. completely bungled quarantine by not creating an effective Federal quarantine system.

    Despite all the bungling of the Federal Government and the pressure of importing “incursion cases” over and over into a poor quarantine system, the states managed to suppress the virus for that period. Australia simply needed a tougher national borders isolation policy and effective quarantine stations to enable the states to do their job.

    Mass vaccination will not be the silver bullet, or silver needle, that people are naively expecting. Sure, mass vaccination will be important and effective up to a point but it will need to be supplemented by other measures. For a highly contagious pathogen like the COVID-19 Delta variant, the vaccination rate needed to stop transmission could be as high as 95% of persons over five years old.

    “Twenty-seven people aboard a Carnival cruise tested positive for COVID-19 just before the ship made a stop in Belize City this week, according to the Belize Tourism Board.

    The positive cases were among 26 crew members and one passenger on the Carnival Vista, which is carrying over 1,400 crew and nearly 3,000 passengers, the board said in a statement. The ship, which left from Galveston, Texas, arrived Wednesday in Belize City.

    All 27 were vaccinated, had mild or no symptoms, and were in isolation, according to the statement. The tourism board said 99.98 per cent of the ship’s crew was vaccinated, as well as 96.5 per cent of its passengers.” – Zoomer.

    Due to immune escape and vaccine escape, people still catch and spread COVID-19 after vaccination. Some few still have a serious disease response. And they still unintentionally pose a risk to remaining unvaccinated people if we open up too much, when we believe vaccination is the complete answer.

    Imagine 80% of people vaccinated with 80% effective vaccines. That is a realistic, even optimistic, assumption. This means only 64% of the population are well-protected and non-transmitters, at best. This leaves 36% of the population poorly protected or unprotected and acting as transmitters of the virus. This is easily enough to generate massive pandemic spread. The 20% wholly unprotected will face standard death rates for the variant in question.

    “Q. Is the Delta variant more or less deadly than earlier variants? What’s the evidence for this? If it is less deadly, should we be less concerned? – scimex.

    A. The data on this is not entirely clear. However, based on Australia’s data, 9.8 per cent of patients ( with COVID-19 are currently in hospital with an escalating pneumonia illness that is life threatening. 1.6 per cent of patients with COVID-19 are in the intensive care unit. To be in the intensive care unit there is a very high chance of mortality. The difference this time with the delta variant, compared to previous variants, is that there is a more even distribution of age in those that are in hospital. For example, in the ICU in NSW there is a teenager. That is not good. The problem with the very high rate of hospitalisation of this condition is that if we let the virus go, then 10 per cent of the total population will end up in hospital. Currently we don’t have that capacity.

    Q. How do vaccination rates influence the statistics we’re seeing on the impact of the Delta strain in countries like the UK, India or the US?

    A. Vaccination does a number of things.
    1. The chance of dying from COVID-19 is significantly reduced.
    2. The chance of going to hospital is significantly reduced.
    3. The chance of contracting COVID-19 is significantly reduced.
    4. If you have contracted COVID-19, then the chance of passing it on to others is also significantly reduced.

    So, the upshot is that in a vaccinated population, the virus has less chance to spread by opportunities for people to contract it, and if they contract the virus they are much less likely to spread it. Importantly COVID-19 in a vaccinated person is a much milder disease.” – Professor Bruce Thompson, Dean of the School of Health Sciences at Swinburne University of Technology.

    What this shows is that at least 1/5 of the Australia population over 16, at least, will end up in hospital sooner or later, probably sooner, at an 80% vaccination rate with 80% effective vaccines and then opening up. I can’t find figures quickly but let us assume 20 million are over the age of 16. Now 80% of 80% of 20 million is 800,000 people if my figures are correct. Imagine trying to put an extra 800,000 patients through our hospitals in say two years. It would be impossible. Our funding-strapped hospitals can’t even cope now when there is effectively zero COVID019. Look at ambulance ramping in Qld for example.

    This demonstrates that there will be a need for firm NPI domestically for a long. long time to come, and also major quarantine stations and limits imposed for years on people coming into Australia. This problem will need to be managed for many years yet with multiple measures, both PI and NPI.

    If my assumptions and estimates are wrong, someone please set me right.

  14. I messed up a whole paragraph above. Clearly I need my second coffee of the morning. Let me correct it here.

    What this shows is that at least 1/10 of 1/5 of the Australia population over 16, at least, will end up in hospital sooner or later, probably sooner, at an 80% vaccination rate with 80% effective vaccines and then fully opening up. I can’t find figures quickly but let us assume 20 million people are over the age of 16. Now 10% of 20% of 20 million is 400,000 people, if my figures are correct. Imagine trying to put an extra 400,000 patients through our hospitals in say two years. It would be impossible. Our funding-strapped hospitals can’t even cope now when there is effectively zero COVID019. Look at ambulance ramping in Qld for example.

    Now I will grab a second (instant) coffee.

  15. Published in The Lancet on 22 July 2021 was an open access paper titled Cognitive deficits in people who have recovered from COVID-19, that looked at cognitive performance data from 81,337 participants who between January and December 2020, undertook a clinically validated web-optimized assessment as part of the Great British Intelligence Test, and found:

    People who had recovered from COVID-19, including those no longer reporting symptoms, exhibited significant cognitive deficits versus controls when controlling for age, gender, education level, income, racial-ethnic group, pre-existing medical disorders, tiredness, depression and anxiety. The deficits were of substantial effect size for people who had been hospitalised (N = 192), but also for non-hospitalised cases who had biological confirmation of COVID-19 infection (N = 326). Analysing markers of premorbid intelligence did not support these differences being present prior to infection. Finer grained analysis of performance across sub-tests supported the hypothesis that COVID-19 has a multi-domain impact on human cognition.

    It seems COVID-19 reduces human cognition beyond the acute infection phase. The unknown is whether this is a permanent phenomenon.

    It seems to me our governments’ incompetence with COVID-19 quarantine and infection management risks making the general population literally less intelligent.

  16. Geoff Miell,

    Correct. In addition, sedation, induced coma and intubation are all risks to IQ as well. My wife saw a TV show claim that intubation or perhaps COVID-19 plus intubation reduces IQ by 7 points on average. I can’t find a confirmation or source for this yet.

    This is an old report but still rather interesting:

    One can only reflect with horror on Boris Johnson with a 7 points IQ reduction, if such has happened. COVID-19 has multiple serious dangers to individuals, nations and the globe, including making the population less intelligent on average. It was rank idiocy by the neoliberal elites of the West to let it spread. One can note that neoliberal ideology and science denialism themselves also reduce the effective, deployed IQs in persons suffering from such ideas or else shift them to value complex nonsense theories and conspiracy ideation over empirically validated knowledge.

  17. Okay, I have found the source of the minus 7 IQ points claim in the very document Geoff Miell has linked to:

    “The scale of the observed deficit was not insubstantial; the 0.47 SD global composite score reduction for the hospitalized with ventilator sub-group was greater than the average 10-year decline in global performance between the ages of 20 to 70 within this dataset. It was larger than the mean deficit of 480 people who indicated they had previously suffered a stroke (−0.24SDs) and the 998 who reported learning disabilities (−0.38SDs). For comparison, in a classic intelligence test, 0.47 SDs equates to a 7-point difference in IQ.” – “Cognitive deficits in people who have recovered from COVID-19.”

    The conclusion looks robust to me as an intelligent (I hope) layperson not expert in this field. This is seriously disturbing stuff. A lot of us don’t have 7 IQ points to spare even if we are above 100. I estimate my IQ at 100 to 110 these days at age 67 and I hope I am not flattering myself.

    As to instant coffee, at least I drink the best one on the market IMHO. I can’t name brands here but it rhymes with (My) Sharona. Of course, it ain’t as good as stuff from freshly ground, high quality beans.

  18. Ikonoclast: – “My wife saw a TV show claim that intubation or perhaps COVID-19 plus intubation reduces IQ by 7 points on average.”

    I probably saw the same show (I think as a repeat broadcast last week late at night) but I can’t recall the show and segment. Alternatively, I found a post on WebMD, that refers to The Lancet paper (I mentioned in my previous comment), and includes:

    How bad the cognitive decline was appeared to be linked to how serious the infection was. Researchers said those who had been placed on a ventilator while ill showed the most substantial effects. On average, their score dropped 7 IQ points.

    The WebMD post finishes with:

    The study provides insight into one part of post-COVID — a condition that has been closely tracked by the CDC. According to the agency, long-haul COVID-19 can include a range of lingering symptoms several months after infection, including shortness of breath, headache, joint or muscle pain, dizziness, and a hard time thinking or concentrating, otherwise known as “brain fog.”

    And there are people who still think it’s a good idea to ease restrictions for the sake of freedom, to let COVID-19 ‘rip through’ the population – go figure!

  19. Seven-day rolling average of “Wild” Covid-19 cases in NSW.
    Wild = Partially isolated + Infectious in community + unknown.
    From Reddit Topic “NSW recorded 466 new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 in the 24 hours to 8pm last night.” Scroll down to find graphs. The top figure below is for Fri Aug 13 and then counts back into past one day at a time. Saturday figure appears to not be added in yet. Rolling average of “wild” looks concerning to say the least,


  20. It is indeed telling that the ‘national conversation’ has been on whether *businesses* could face action for imposing a mandate on *anti-vaxx staff*, rather than on any duty of care they might have to prevent staff getting infected at work.

    I keep wondering — should an employee have the right to refuse to work alongside unvaccinated colleagues? That seems reasonable to me, at least under certain circumstances, although I have no idea how it would fit with existing law around safe workplaces and worker judgements thereof.

  21. Ikonoclast: “Due to immune escape and vaccine escape, people still catch and spread COVID-19 after vaccination. Some few still have a serious disease response. And they still unintentionally pose a risk to remaining unvaccinated people if we open up too much, when we believe vaccination is the complete answer.”

    Those with serious disease are less of a worry once they’re too crook to attempt hiding it! They know they are sick, and take to their beds, seek medical help, get tested, get isolated, and so lessen transmission risk. Importantly they either die taking their remaining share of virus with them, or, if not vaccinated at an inopportune time pre or post infection, their immune system beats the infection in a more comprehensive way that also limits the chance of directed viral evolution than with a current target limiting vaccinee response.

    The big problem it seems is the high numbers of asymptomatic cases whether they have no prior exposure, or are vaccinees, or are recovered from disease, They’re, unintentionally, a dangerous viral reservoir, facilitator and incubator of mutant strains, and vector for transmission – particularly the vaccinees. We’ll be seeing a lot more NPI measures yet, and likely testing of everyone, everywhere repeated at high frequency. With big pharma doing so well out of the situation now, will we get an all round better vaccine solution any time soon?

  22. Svante,

    Correct. Poor multi-sentence construction by me. The “serious disease response” idea was meant to be in parenthesis. I did mean to indicate a concern about asymptomatic transmission and transmission by vaccinated people who think “I’ve just got a little cold.”

    Even during this pandemic, I’ve seen ads for the various cold nostrums implicitly operating with the “just soldier on” idea. Those damn ads should have been banned when the public message is to get tested for the slightest cold-like or flu-like symptom.

  23. Jones: most employees already have the right to refuse to work along unvaccinated staff. I can’t imagine the (neo)Liberals being willing to impose any further obligation on employers than their existing, much beloved “if you don’t like it you can quit” approach.

  24. currently about 80% of Aussies are not fully vaxed…this despite all the propaganda, harrassment, coercion cajoling, and name calling etc. The other 20% are a mix of the standard hysteric hypochondriacs, and those who have succumbed to the propaganda harrassment etc etc.

    A few (easy to answer?) questions for the rabidly pro totally-untested-gene-therapy crowd…

    Are you aware that the PCR test itself has only got Emergency-Use Approval in the same way that the gene-therapies have only got Emergency approval (and indemnity from liability? if so, Where did you learn this, if at all…and WHEN?

    Are you aware that the CDC admits that the PCR test cannot differentiate between influenza and SARS-CoV2 viruses?

    Are you aware that, for the first time in Australian history there have been no deaths due to Influenza, this year and not a single hospitalization (usually tens of thousands per year)? This latter is an extraordinary coincidence when taken with the previous question, is it not? also…

    Are you aware that in Townsville/ Magnetic island a woman infected with the “highly contagious” delta variant was on the loose for 4-5 days and had over 900 confirmed contacts (says Qld Health) without a single infection, and that the Cairns taxi-driver…also with the “highly contagious” delta variant ….had hundreds of VERY CLOSE contacts IN HIS CAB over ten days..and likewise NO TRANSMISSIONS. And according to the Byron Shire echo….”In the aftermath of three infectious people staying in the Far North Coast area earlier in the month,SURPRISINGLY NSW Health has to date reported NO NEW CASES of COVID-19 in the Byron Shire, or broader Northern Rivers.”

    Put this all together and you get. inaccurate test rebrands influenza as SARS-CoV2 and Covid19. Allegedly highly infectious variant of rebranded virus IS NOT INFECTIOUS AT ALL. Extreme clamour and vilification of the huge majority who are awake…by the gullible hysterics,. followed by huffing and puffing from these crazies: “youse are all gonna die, and we WANT you to die”.

    Geez guys. don’t you vax guinea pigs realize how petty and deranged you appear to be to normal people? Sad, really.

  25. Birdie alert. Poor old birdie, he doesn’t understand the first thing about cellular biology.

    “PCR testing is the type of test done most often in Queensland when testing for COVID-19. PCR testing looks for the genetic material of the virus in a sample taken from your body. As this test looks directly for the virus, it is the most accurate test for seeing whether a person is infected with the virus at the time the test is taken.” – Qld Govt Health – “Everything you ever wanted to know about COVID-19 testing.”

    Here’s a primer, which I would have to read myself before even trying to make any sweeping statements about COVID-19 tests.

    I believe the bulk of swab tests in Qld., with a couple of hours to a couple of days turn around time for mass testing results, are PCR tests. These test for specific DNA sequences by a process of amplification. See the link above. DNA sequences, when long enough, are codes unique to a species or variant. The sequences for COVID-19 and various flus are very different. The code sequences (as templates for making new viruses) have to be different to make something different. Der. Birdie would know this if he knew anything about genetics.

    The kind of gross misunderstanding characterizing Birdie’s claims has occurred in this case by misunderstanding what a mulitplex assay is.

    A multiplex assay test is a “reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test that detects and differentiates RNA from SARS-CoV-2, influenza A virus, and influenza B virus in upper or lower respiratory specimens.” – CDC, “CDC’s Influenza SARS-CoV-2 Multiplex Assay and Required Supplies”.

    Note the words “detects” AND “differentiates”. Maybe conspiracy theorists don’t know what “differentiate” means. This would make sense as lack of a concept and the word that denotes usually go together.

    A standard PCR test for COVID-19 alone will give a result for COVID-19 alone. There may be small percentages of false-positives and false-negatives for COVID-19 alone. I am not sure of details on that. What such a test does not do is test for flu. It cannot tell you if you have flu or not.

    A multiplex assay test designed to test for SARS-CoV-2, influenza A virus, and influenza B will give results for all these viruses (allowing for false positives and false negatives if any).

    The science-denying conspiracy theorists regularly misinterpret statements in scientific papers and science explanations because they (a) are looking for something which confirms their conspiracy theories and (b) are using this motivated reasoning plus a complete lack of comprehension of what they are reading to find what they want to find. A higher proportion of these deniers will die from COVID-19 than will occur in the general population. Evolution in action.

  26. I may have made an error above. For RNA viruses, the test is probably always RT-PCR. This does not change the substantive point about the multiplex RT-PCR.

  27. Ikonoclast. You made SEVERAL errors, as you are clearly a “bush”‘ cellular biologist. That’s Ok…nothing wrong with the bush. With invincible ignorance yes…but not with the bush!

    The silliest part of your windbag-like reply, however I will note: the copy+ paste regarding Qld Health using PCR testing. .

    On the 1st of January next year the SARS-CoV2 panic will be ended and the ‘flu virus will return. Qld Health will DROP the current PCR test since the CDC has already let it be known the current test is extremely unreliable. From the notification I received…

    “Positive results do not rule out bacterial infection or co-infection with other viruses. The agent detected may not be the definite cause of disease. Laboratories within the United States and its territories are required to report all test results to the appropriate public health authorities”. which means, even though not in teh US and it’s territories exactly, we’ll follow suit when the current EUA expires…./maybe sooner..

    And just like that you’ll be wondering why you allowed a rather dangerous unapproved gene-therapy for a disappeared virus into your bloodstream .

    Should you be allowed in the ICU after causing yourself such harm? Yeap. Fools and their lives are soon ENOUGH parted, eh what?

  28. From The Guardian article titled ‘It’s too late’: US doctor says dying patients begging for Covid vaccine, dated Jul 23, that begins with:

    What the US government is calling “the pandemic of the unvaccinated” is playing out in painful ways as some realize too late that they wish they had had the shot, while others hold out even as they suffer in hospital amid a national surge of new Covid-19 infections, primarily caused by the Delta variant.

    At least 99% of those in the US who died of coronavirus in the last six months had not been vaccinated, Dr Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has said.

    Making the wrong decisions can have deadly consequences, eh what?

  29. Ikonoclasy (neat screen-name for someone who REFUSES to break the rules)

    Still fearful to posit a suggestion as to where the usual tens of thousands of flu hospitalization went? Too painful; to consider?

    RT-PCR reckons they are all SARS-CoV2 and that makes sense to you eh? It does not make sense to the CDC…obviously.

    Out bush the cellular biologists are not allowed to think? Must they all be gullible to keep their licences to practice?

    BTW Influenza is a REAL THING since you flu deniers don’t seem to know.

  30. Geoff. It’s hard to know if you are for real. If you’re legit, you might care to look at the DAEN site. That’s the Oz TGA site for adverse effects of ALL medicines. You enter COVID in the search box and then tick the three boxes…
    COMIRNATY COVID-19 vaccine (active ingredients: BNT162b2 (mRNA))

    COVID-19 Vaccine (TNS) (active ingredients: COVID-19 Vaccine (Type not specified))

    COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca (active ingredients: ChAdOx1-S (Viral vector))

    then put the dates manually 2019 to 2021. Then search. this is what you get….this is up until early May, as the website says they do not have the latest 90 days as yet. This is what you get….

    Number of reports (cases): 13602

    Number of cases with a single suspected medicine: 13478

    Number of cases where death was a reported outcome: 130

    Check it out yourself. I hope you are OK…IF you’ve had the vax. Experimental gene-therapies are no laughing matter.

    Wondering why the media is not onto this? That is 130 until 3 months ago.

  31. From a HealthDirect post on May 6 titled Should I bother getting a flu vaccination in Australia in 2021?, it begins with:

    In 2020, the number of laboratory-confirmed cases of influenza (‘the flu’) in Australia was, thankfully, very low. There were about 21,200 cases, and 37 people died from the flu. Compare this to the year before (2019), when there were more than 289,000 cases of confirmed influenza in Australia and more than 700 deaths.

    This dramatic drop in flu cases could be thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. Physical distancing, good hand hygiene, mask wearing and staying home when unwell are all practices that have helped reduce the spread of COVID-19. These practices may also have curtailed the spread of influenza.

    Who’d have thunk it, eh what? 🙄

  32. From the letter linked below it looks like ADE is to be a covid-19 vaccine problem for the vaccines produced to date. It looks to me like vaccine selection pressure may be in the driver’s seat for this and evolution of worse variants to come. How about a vaccine that targets many more sites on the virus in addition to just the spike protein, and maybe not the spike protein? Is that coming, in 3, 5, or more years?
    J Infect 2021 Aug 9;S0163-4453(21)00392-3. doi: 10.1016/j.jinf.2021.08.010. Online ahead of print.
    Infection-enhancing anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies recognize both the original Wuhan/D614G strain and Delta variants. A potential risk for mass vaccination ?
    Nouara Yahi 1, Henri Chahinian 1, Jacques Fantini 1
    1INSERM UMR_S 1072, 13015 Marseille, France; Aix-Marseille Université, 13015 Marseille, France.
    PMID: 34384810 PMCID: PMC8351274 DOI: 10.1016/j.jinf.2021.08.010


    Infection-enhancing antibodies have been detected in symptomatic Covid-19.

    Antibody dependent enhancement (ADE) is a potential concern for vaccines.

    Enhancing antibodies recognize both the Wuhan strain and delta variants.

    ADE of delta variants is a potential risk for current vaccines.

    Vaccine formulations lacking ADE epitope are suggested.

  33. Geoff posted from HealthLine: (Note{ not Geoff’s fault it’s so tangled) “This dramatic drop in flu cases could be thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. Physical distancing, good hand hygiene, mask wearing and staying home when unwell are all practices that have helped reduce the spread of COVID-19. These practices may also have curtailed the spread of influenza.”….

    Good answer. Some pro-cience types reckon the flu vax musta had some effect. But NO…THOSE vaxes DON”T play any role it seems.. Or did the Big-arm-worshippers forget that THIS is their official line?

    Anyway a mandatory experimental gene-therapy aimed at activating the production of deadly spike-proteins by the body itself WILL stop the spike-proteins in their tracks. and when a “wild” CV appears, sometime in the future the pre-programmed Spike-production-factories will NOT leap back into action.

    No-one knows how HealthLine, or Geoff or the Ikon-smasher who refuses to smash his Ikons, got this notion (from a mate at Big Pharma?) but they sre sticking to it religiously. Cheers.

  34. ADE is a real danger. That’s not to say it’s likely to happen with COVID-19. But it could. Given the available host space COVID-19 started with (nearly 8 billion COVID-19 naive humans), it could be a real danger depending on the evolutionary space available to the pathogen in terms of genetic and phenotype mutation potential for serotypes. This space is unknown in size and shape and the evolutionary paths through it are not predictable.

    The only real solution, so far as I know, for pathogens capable of ADE by multiple serotypes is eradication. Eradication of vector-borne viruses is one thing. Difficult but do-able. That often means a battle against mosquitoes. All this is just another indication, among several, that eradication was really the only viable path against SARSCoV-2. But that path is foreclosed for now for many years at least. This is another indication of the enormous and idiotic mistake made by neoliberal capitalism which prefers to keep financial capital moving up to the elites and simply letting many other people and species die. That is the standard modus operandi of neoliberal capitalism. We cannot pretend that our political economy system was not a major causative factor in generating and then spreading COVID-19. We also cannot pretend that neoliberal capitalism is capable of stopping the pandemic. It has failed so far and it will continue to fail. State social measures are the only feasible path.

  35. Haven’t read the comments section and have to be out almost straightaway, but must say I read Grattan’s piece and was a bit disturbed by it also.

    Today’s “Sydney Special” was much gloomier than usual in the light of revelations concerning the NSW Cabinet fracturing on the issue and infections up to 683. I’ve reached the stage where I see Berejiklian thrown under a bus by people like Barilaro and others in the interests of anonymous folk in Canberra and elsewhere. She is paying for her mistakes in a similar way to stubborn Biden in the USA, but it was interesting to see the discomforted face of Iago-like Barilaro when forced to the light of day. He is also is representation headed for the underside of a bus as supplication to voters to keep even more responsible and culpable cowards protected for now. It is a weird sight to watch it all come unstuck.

    I had all this in mind after a fruitless FB conversation with an impressionable Victorian mother who wants to crucify Andrews, this time for not letting the kid play in the park and for daring to mention vax for kids.

    Then I thought of the maggot Palmer.

    So, Andrews, in nemesis mode, announcing a nasty jump in infections there and then to the ACT, for a similar story.

    The you- know- what is hitting the fan and they are all ducking for cover- it looks like the Delta cat is well and truly out of the bag and not much in sight but a sort of comeuppance for the Lazy Country.

  36. I think Berejiklian may be thrown under a bus by many in the electorate when the time comes. I believe she has mismanaged this outbreak from week one due to her own hubris and that of Morrison about her being a superior manager to all of the other state leaders.

  37. Call me naive, but I’m under the impression that Berejiklian has wanted stronger measures the whole time but there’s (was at least) a majority or at least troublemaking minority within her cabinet who were all too willing to throw their toys out of the pram and manufacture a political crisis should she entertain too much advice from those ‘Stalinist’ medical experts.

  38. No. those who oppose her are hard right probusiness even more than she is. She is out of touch and manipulable rather than outright malicious like the hardliners; a politician rather than an ideologue.

  39. No. She’ll land on her feet and be well off like Anna Bligh. She is saying we have to learn to live with it… not only to NSW, but to Australia (and NZ). This is what the LNP have been about and wanted from day one. Scummo now distances himself from the bin chicken. He even makes out like he seems to oppose her position. Australia sickens all over. The pandemic is left to run it’s course, whatever that is. All borders soon open, and it’s back to business as normal – except for the sick, dying, and dead nobodies. Gladys takes all the blame with her when she’s rolled. People spitting on her in the street will be the least of it, so she moves interstate/international and after some low profile time she rises again in some prime well paid sinecure that’s already waiting for her. Gladys wins. The 1% win. The LNP win the next NSW and federal elections and remain in power for a decade at least as voters vote for stability in a world gone mad. They vote for the right stuff in a world gone bad.

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