Grim Covid prediction for January in NSW: ‘LUNACY’

That’s the headline for a story based on an email interview I did with Yahoo News. Over the fold, the full Q and A.

  • What are your predictions for NSW given the current numbers?

Assuming that Hazzard’s 25 000 cases a day estimate is correct, that 2 per cent  are hospitalised and and average stay of 10 days, that’s 5000 people in hospital on any given day. NSW has 20700 hospital beds, so almost 25 per cent taken up with Covid

  • What will this mean for hospitals?

This will clearly be too much for hospitals if close contacts are required to isolate. That would entail losing a substantial proportion of capacity, maybe as much as 25 per cent.  Government has foreshadowed dropping isolation requirements, which would increase capacity, but also ensure lots more infection of vulnerable patients.

What is the risk of continuing to ‘let it rip’? 

Every country that has tried “let er rip” has had disastrous outcomes, and all (except some Republican controlled states in US) have reversed course. Advocates here focused on Denmark’s decision to drop all restrictions in September. They are now back in nearly full lockdown

  • Why do you think borders will close/ when would this happen?

If Perrottet continues to resist vax passports, encourage socialising etc, it will be impossible for other states to bring case numbers down. Pressure to reimpose border controls (or not lift them in case of WA) will increase

  • If there was another lockdown when should NSW re-open?

Ideally, after a rapid rollout of boosters, return to effective contact tracing, reinstatement of vax passports. In practice, lockdown won’t happen until outcome is catastrophic, and end will be unpredictable.

  • Why do you think ‘living with Covid’ is not a viable option?

Advocates of “living with Covid” imagine a steady and manageable number of cases. They don’t understand exponential growth. If cases rise 20 % per day (rate has been much higher recently), they will increase 100-fold in a few weeks. 

  • Do you think other states will follow NSW’s increase in cases?

Hard to say. Depends on avoiding superspreader events like New Years Eve celebrations, and rapid rollout of boosters

162 thoughts on “Grim Covid prediction for January in NSW: ‘LUNACY’

  1. Everyone should read this essay, It is absolutely brilliant; lucid, ethical and empirically irrefutable.

    “Why Covid-19 will never become endemic – Raina MacIntyre

    I found the link at John Quiggin’s twitter. I put this essay up with J.Q.’s essay “Dismembering Government” as the two most brilliant essays I have read by Australian public intellectual experts writing in their metier in the last year: both accessible and understandable to any educated lay person. If there were prizes in this category and I was giving them, they would get equal first prize.

  2. Rachel Clarke is correct: a couple of hundred people in the UK are dying a day “with covid”, and people don’t seem that worried, or to have really noticed. It is being marked against expectations (and past experience of much worse), and this is roughly what the “optimists” projected.

    i.e., in the UK context, “the doomers were wrong about omicron” is what the bulk of the public thinks. I think people should have paid more attention to reasonable worst-case scenarios, and been more cautious, but I’m not in charge.

  3. I’ll repeat what I said last Armistice/Remembrance Day. I used to wonder how people could tolerate year after year of pointless slaughter in the Great War. Now I don’t.

  4. J.Q.,

    The overall “how” is clear I think. It is to do with the generation of ignorance and rationalization by the elites with the people as willing accomplices in their own deception. Our culture more than ever has become one of mere entertainment, spectacle and sensation. Nothing is more antithetical to taking considered thought on any issue.

    None on this blog who supports opening up and letting it rip has replied to the evidence from the global “experiment” to date.

    China: Deaths per million = 73.
    USA : Deaths per million = 2,603.
    UK: Deaths per million = 2,212.
    Australia: Deaths per million = over 100 and currently rocketing up from “Omicron-let-it-rip”.

    Real GDP Growth Rate from 2020 according to Wikipedia from IMF data.

    China: +2.27%
    USA: -3.5%
    UK: -9.92%
    Australia: -2.43%

    The evidence to date is that suppression saves lives AND is better for the economy. Australia’s split experience shows the same results over time. Lives were saved and the economy was better while we suppressed. Everything is much worse now we have “opened up”. The economy is more shuttered than ever.

  5. Anyone thinking that China isn’t in for a world of hurt over the coming year needs to read more widely.

  6. Here is a nice twitter takedown of that ‘brilliant’ essay Ikon posted – just for balance. It starts with:

    “Few have been as consistently wrong during the pandemic as Raina Macintyre

    First, she predicted 400,000 Australian deaths (now 2,673). Then claimed a need for 650,000 ICU beds (now 392)

    Her opus in The Saturday Paper is a beacon to mistruths and myths

    Here’s a breakdown:”

  7. Joe Blow (re your comments at JANUARY 15, 2022 AT 9:18 AM)
    …as far as I am concerned – and I am 67 – this pandemic is rapidly drawing to a
    close. All evidence points to that.

    What evidence, Joe?

    JB: – “I know this will be an unpopular opinion around here, but I think Australia should
    remove ALL restrictions ASAP.

    I’d suggest you are advocating for substantially increasing your risk of acquiring ‘long-COVID’, for your own suffering and perhaps your own untimely demise. Do you feel lucky, Joe? 😉

    Per CDC, Risk for COVID-19 Infection, Hospitalization, and Death By Age Group:
    65-74 years old: 5x more than (18-29 years old ref group) for hospitalisation & 65x for death
    75-85 years old: 8x more than (18-29 years old ref group) for hospitalisations & 150x for death

    Omicron is not “mild” for 65+ age group:

    The elderly, people who have underlying health conditions and the unvaccinated are still at risk of severe disease, Van Kerkhove said.

    Risk factors for ‘long-COVID”

    Long COVID was characterized by symptoms of fatigue, headache, dyspnea and anosmia and was more likely with increasing age and body mass index and female sex.

    I’d suggest you are also advocating for a deterioration and suffering of many other lives, and subsequent erosion of societies/communities.

  8. My latest COVID-19 geostrategic prediction. Whatever happens in China, it will be bad for us in the West.

    1. If China loses control of its Omicron outbreaks, then China (1.4 billion people) joins the rest of the world as a COVID-19 variants production factory. We will be facing even more outbreaks and waves of new VOCs (Variants of Concern).

    2. If China controls its Omicron outbreaks, it forges ahead of the rest of the world even more, economically and technologically.

  9. Matt (@crudeoilpeak) tweeted earlier today (with graph of NSW hospitalisations and bed capacity):

    @BroedeCarmody Check public hospital bed capacity 6,400 non-Covid beds + 2,850 #covidnsw beds = 9,250 beds vs 9,500 total

    NSW hospitalisations today (Jan 18) are apparently:
    A) _ 250 beds under NSW public hospital maximum bed capacity (per NSW Health data published on Jan 7)
    B) _ 308 beds under NSW Health “Green” peak scenario (published on Jan 7)
    C) 1,850 beds under NSW Health “Blue” peak scenario
    D) 3,150 beds under NSW Health “Red” peak scenario

    Click to access icu-predictions.pdf

    I wonder what it will take for Premier Perrottet to act?

  10. …” And we truly need not ascribe “evil” intentions to anyone in the decision chain, …” …

    “Life in the garden of forking paths

    … “that we and our compatriots made one decision, and then another, and then another, and before long we found ourselves in this fresh hot mess. And we truly need not ascribe “evil” intentions to anyone in the decision chain, as much as we would like to, since our own futuromyopia supplies all the explanation that is needed. We stumble along in the forever blurry present, bitching as we go, like an ill-tempered Mr. Magoo.

    (Hegelian World Spirit as Mr. Magoo, the philosopher writes in his notebook.)

    “In 1941 Jorge Luis Borges published his short story, “The Garden of Forking Paths”, which suffers the injustice of being a work many of us reference without reading. As “everyone knows”, the story is an imaginative exploration of the idea that every choice we make is a selection of one path in an infinite garden of paths. But it is easy to forget that Borges’s story falls loosely in the genre of spy thrillers, as it features a Chinese professor who spies for the Germans in the first world war, is found out, and finds a clever way to broadcast a message to his masters just before he is captured. ”
    . ..

  11. Joe Blow: If you’re relying on Adam Schwab, you might as well give up. From numerous interactions, it’s clear he doesn’t understand counterfactuals, a point illustrated by the first comment you quote. I haven’t seen this particular case, but the pattern is familar
    Alarmist: If we don’t do something, X people will die
    Denialist: Nonsense, it will be fine
    Govt (until recently): OK, we’ll do something
    << X people die
    Denialist: See, I was right

  12. Ikon, here is a quite interesting article in Forbes on the manipulation of covid data in China. Considering that China is now playing wack-a-mole with Omicron outbreaks in a growing number of places, you might want to reconsider your stance on China’s success in stopping this virus.

    I know you aren’t a great fan of China, so I’ll be interested in your take on the article.

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