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. … scaremongering by the usual suspects …

    Is there a reason why you are unwilling to explain who you mean by ‘the usual suspects’?

  2. Geoff,

    Much of the boom will be in new ‘green‘ tech.

    As for the ‘Limits to Growth’ update – well, what can I say. I, like anyone of a certain age, read the original ( I also read subsequent Club of Rome report ) and believed it at the time, however subsequent actual reality proved it to be entirely wrong. Erlich even lost a bet about it.

    Peak oil also proved to be a myth. The Oil Drum desperately analysed so called peak oil for years and years and then 1 day around 2010 just stopped and basically admitted they were wrong – about everything.

    Since that time, peak oilers have been trying to change the narrative that it was ALWAYS about consumption NOT supply, but those that were around at the time know that is BS.

    Perhaps you should check out the 10 year SPGCCI commodity index. Prices for a broad range of commodities have FALLEN 1.38% in that time. Ie commodities are now broadly CHEAPER than they were 10 years ago. Non market types that visit here probably have an excuse for that as well, but facts are facts.

    Index Here. The S&P GCCI is the most widely recognised broad based commodity index.

  3. Joe Blow: I’ve been bagging out the Club of Rome model since before the dawn of time (more precisely, since before the first days of blogging in 2002) . So I don’t think my pessimism on the current Covid wave arise from being one of “the usual suspects”

  4. J.Q.,

    What in your telling did the Club of Rome Report get wrong? They did get some things wrong but I am interested (again) in hearing your telling. Bagging the CORR is a bit like bagging Newton’s celestial mechanics because you know about Einstein’s work. The CORR was an early example of complex systems analysis linking resources, resource use and environment. It did so in a way that linked some operations of the real economy back in to the real environment on a holistic physical systems basis. Had conventional economics done this pre-1972? Has economics properly grappled with this since?

    Critiquing CORR for failing to see that waste problems and earth system problems would be limiting before raw resource problems smacks of a lot of 20-20 hindsight thinking. Did you intuit or deduce the correct limits in the 1970s or even 1980s? Is so, links please.

    I grant that a good understanding of substitutions theory would have helped the CORR people. But substitution effects are not in general as large or infinitely open-ended as many economists seem to think they are. Then there’s Jevons’s Paradox which essentially rips substitution theory into confetti, as regards the ability of conventional economic theory and practice to avoid hitting limits.

  5. Well, global IQ’s and/or general applied intelligence averages are definitely going down now.

    https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/the-hidden-long-term-cognitive-effects-of-covid-2020100821133.

    “The COVID pandemic has now claimed as many American lives as World War I, the Vietnam War, and the Korean War combined. Most of these deaths are due to the well-known pulmonary complications of the coronavirus. It has become increasingly recognized, however, that the virus also attacks the nervous system. Doctors in a large Chicago medical center found that more than 40% of patients with COVID showed neurologic manifestations at the outset, and more than 30% of those had impaired cognition. Sometimes the neurological manifestations can be devastating and can even lead to death.

    However, new research is now suggesting that there may be long-term neurologic consequences in those who survive COVID infections, including more than seven million Americans and another 27 million people worldwide. Particularly troubling is increasing evidence that there may be mild — but very real — brain damage that occurs in many survivors, causing pervasive yet subtle cognitive, behavioral, and psychological problems.”

  6. Joe Blow: – “Peak oil also proved to be a myth.

    Data I see indicates the world is steadily running out of ‘pre-peak’ oil producing countries/regions. It’s only a matter of time when ‘pre-peak’ oil producing countries cannot compensate for the many more and increasing number of ‘post-peak’ oil producing countries. That all-time global crude oil + condensate production peak may have already occurred in Nov 2018.
    https://johnquiggin.com/2021/11/14/government-assumes-90-of-australias-new-car-sales-will-be-electric-by-2050/comment-page-1/#comment-246922

    Humanity has exhausted most of the cheap-to-extract oil. The costs to extract the remaining global oil reserves are increasingly more expensive. The era of cheap oil is now over. Either oil prices stay high, or oil producers go broke.

    JB: – “The Oil Drum desperately analysed so called peak oil for years and years and then 1 day around 2010 just stopped and basically admitted they were wrong – about everything.

    Where did The Oil Drum admit “they were wrong – about everything”? Link(s) please, Joe.

    Ugo Bardi’s paper titled Peak oil, 20 years later: Failed prediction or useful insight? concluded with:

    We may therefore conclude that the peak oil predictions were considered incompatible with the commonly held views that see economic growth as always necessary and desirable and depletion/pollution as marginal phenomena that can be overcome by means of technological progress. That was the reason why the peak oil idea was abandoned, victim of a “clash of absolutes” with the mainstream view of the economic system. In the clash, peak oil turned out to be the loser, not because it was “wrong” but mainly because it was a minority opinion. The future will bring new data and, with them, the concept of peak oil might regain popularity for a second time, just as it did for the first time with the 1998 work of Campbell and Lahérrere.

    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2214629618303207

    JB: – “Perhaps you should check out the 10 year SPGCCI commodity index. Prices for a broad range of commodities have FALLEN 1.38% in that time. Prices for a broad range of commodities have FALLEN 1.38% in that time.

    And yet the ACCC reported on Dec 10:

    Daily petrol prices on a seven-day rolling average basis in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth increased to 172.4 cents per litre (cpl) at the end of October 2021, which in inflation adjusted (real) terms are the highest prices in seven years, the ACCC’s latest petrol monitoring report shows.

    https://www.accc.gov.au/media-release/october-petrol-prices-hit-seven-year-high-due-to-rising-international-prices

    I’d suggest sooner of later, with the current society’s petroleum dependency paradigm, rising fuel prices, particularly diesel fuels, will increase the prices of nearly everything.

  7. Except to gain admission to membership in MENSA.

    Somebody told me once that he’d read an article written by a sociologist about MENSA and titled ‘Underachievers Anonymous’.

  8. Come on Geoff. You only had to look at the Oil Drums last post to see that they ‘sort of’ realised that they got it wrong. They completely missed the fracking revolution that turned the US from a large oil importer to an exporter.

    I am no particular fan of oil and I hope that we move away from it soon enough. But to suggest there is an actual long term shortage is crazy. There is frackable oil everywhere ( if necessary ).

    The current oil price is about $75 – this is way lower ( $140) than it was not so long ago. Fracking has completely changed the economics of oil. If the price stays high for too long, more fracking will lower it and vice versa. PLENTY of fracking is economic at ~$60 per barrel. OPEC knows this and will have to carefully manage their exit from oil over the next 20 years or so. They aren’t going to raise the price enough to encourage more fracking AND THE MOVE to alternates. They no longer have a monopoly on oil and they know it. Any sustained price over $100 or so will only speed the transition away from oil

    Just to illustrate how precarious OPECs situation is, one of their members suggested not so long ago, that the US join them. As if – after the shafting the US got in the 70’s?

    As to why petrol prices are high here at the moment – who knows? Taxes, supply chain issues, tanker shortages? I would imagine this will actually get a bit more chaotic over the coming years as we transition away from the stuff. We may even see the price of oil crash to $20 for a few years as exporters try to sell it all off before it and the infrastructure around the oil industry become stranded assets.

    So yes – there will be peak oil but not in the way the oil drum and peak oil fetishists thought. Oil may one day be expensive too – in just the way it is expensive to shoe a horse compared to 120 years ago.

  9. It’s total confusion ‘out there’. The lack of RATS and the delays with PCR means that the under reporting of +Covid exists. There are people infected who are unable to receive medical treatment. The available data indicates a +rate of ~23%. There could be 1M +Covid (Norman Swan abc 730)

    This is a govt assisted pandemic.

  10. ABC’s 7:30 programme broadcast last night a segment titled Omicron variant proves the COVID-19 pandemic remains unpredictable

    At time interval 0:01:39, Laura Tingle said:

    In just six weeks, Omicron has gone from nothing to maybe as many as a million infections a week in Australia, if estimates about under-diagnosis are correct.

    UK evidence suggests Omicron has 1/3rd of the risk of hospitalisation compared to Delta variant.

    Dr Swan said NSW positivity rates reported yesterday (presumably for Jan 2) was at 21.49%. That’s an indicator that actual case rates are now substantially under-reported. Professor John Kaldor suggested the testing regime is potentially missing 2/3rds to 4/5ths of actual infections in the community.

    Currently, most people with COVID in ICUs are unvaccinated and have the Delta variant.

    Healthcare workers are being infected and thus furloughed, reducing hospital staff levels.

    Dr Omar Khorshid, President of the AMA, said it’s possibly too late in NSW to do anything other than a major lockdown. He suggests it looks like a medical system “complete meltdown” is required before Premier Perrottet will likely change approach.

    https://www.abc.net.au/7.30/omicron-variant-proves-the-covid-19-pandemic/13694470

    Meanwhile, Adrian Esterman tweeted earlier today:

    Another 23,131 cases for NSW. The 7-day moving average is up to 18,479, but the Reff is down to 1.86, a 4.5 day doubling time. There are 1,344 patients in hospital (up 140), and 105 in ICU (up 10). The 7-day %+ve tests is up to 14.0%

  11. The lack of rapid antigen tests is a classic example of the continuing failure of our so called rulers and experts.

    The free market quickly produced over 50 rapid tests for Covid but our regulatory bureaucrats decided that they knew better and declined to make them widely available. If they were used, it was required to be administered by a registered nurse, thus turning a $2 test into a $40 ordeal. Now, these same $2 tests are going for up to $100 if you can get them and there are demands to make them ‘free’. If they had been ‘allowed’ and we were treated like adults rather than children they would be plentiful and so cheap that few would be calling them to be subsidised. Not so long ago, if rapid testing was advocated, all sorts of excuses were made for why they were a bad idea and now people complain that they aren’t available.

    Couldn’t make it up if you tried. Why people still trust these clowns, or even advocate for less free enterprise and give them more power, is beyond me.

    Alex Tabarrok from Marginal Revolution has been writing about rapid testing and the pathetic FDA response since July 2020! A full year and a half ago.

  12. While the Omicron seems to inhabit and replicate in the upper bronchi of the lungs and airways, a feature that makes its exhalation into the air an easier event than if it lurked deep in the lungs, it is still the same basic virus particle, the same damn size and basic physical characteristics as the original strain of the virus. That means if we use appropriate masks, i.e. the N95 or N99 types (or whatever else they are called), and actually have them over both nose and mouth, well fitted, then there is little avenue for the virion to get through to your lungs, be it a Delta or Omicron variant. Of course masks cannot protect people in all situations, but at the societal level, that isn’t the point; it is that we are trying to cut off the main avenue of transmission, and under such circumstances, the virus loses access to the broader network of human hosts.

    The problem and also our good fortune is that Omicron seems to survive and replicate high up in the airway, in the upper bronchi, rather than acting (in general) as a multi-organ, deep lung, infection. That isn’t to say the Omicron variant can’t do that, just that it is less likely to on a per person basis [subject to new data arriving, of course]. As previous variants have amply demonstrated, this virus is in a mode of rapid adaptation to its richly rewarding human host; it is a mirage, this belief that the virus will mutate into some kind of benign beast; there are too many examples of viruses becoming more lethal as they evolve, for that to be a rational position to adopt. If a virus evolves to become transmissible among a sub-population in which the virus is “latent,” in the sense of asymptomatic replication and transmission, then it really doesn’t matter a jot to the virus, if the host drops dead a few weeks later, from virus-caused illness. If a precautionary principle was ever wise, now would seem to be the case. I am not saying that this is what Omicron will do, but some future variant just might behave that way. The point is, by the time we know, if we have let it rip, it is too late for a big chunk of people. This is not a humanly compassionate approach to dealing with a pandemic of this nature.

    People organise into hierarchies; these tiers mean that if one of the really well-connected individuals is infected, the sooner they are isolated, the better. Down at the level of those of us for whom our usual physical contacts are actually quite limited (c.f. the well-connected), the infection burns out for lack of new groups to infect. In addition, we seem to enjoy grouping up by the hundreds and thousands at Raves, Gigs, Events; of course we do, we are humans. Unfortunately, these gatherings can act in a similar fashion to the infection of a well-connected individual, in that one person can spread the virus to many other people, some of whom are the well-connected, or a tier or two below that.

    On the other hand, if we choose to ignore this, we get super-spreading events, and it is jolly hard to keep on top of it. What is so galling is that after a major effort by Victoria and (eventually) NSW to get on top of their outbreaks, the governments just shrugged and let ‘er rip. If Omicron hadn’t by happenstance appeared on the scene a few short weeks earlier, another brutal Delta wave would be happening right now, rather than a fractionally less brutal Omicron wave. Omicron plus Delta, that’s the new Variant of Concern, if we let both of them run amok in our societies.

    Politically, to be very blunt, I feel that most of us are considered ideologically as the inferior, the people who were not the genetic manifestation of El’s chosen People…or some such similar bulldust. Certainly, the rules seem different for one lot of us. These are perilous times, not because of the virus, but because of the manner of dealing with it, that has brutally exposed the Wonder Children and, separately, the great unwashed (the disabled, the voiceless, the homeless, the unfed, the working poor, the chronic health conditions that people have, the remote and often Indigenous communities, recent immigrants, etc.). This is no way to govern.

  13. Well Don, you describe an excerpt of the story of learning how to survive the virus and its conceivable variants. Dom, on the other hand, tells people: Put up with it and I sure know how to negate your learning for that which must not be cannot be.

  14. Joe Blow, Akarog’s statement is still valid. The order of the statements matters.

    Are you aware you are contradicting yourself in your last post. If not then you have a major problem regarding the word ‘expert’.

    As for your statement in your 3:22 pm post: “The free market quickly produced over 50 rapid tests for Covid but our regulatory bureaucrats decided that they knew better and declined to make them widely available.” It is another example of talking rubbish.
    It is rubbish because:
    a) Who is taking about “rapid tests”? Rapid tests of what? Blood tests? Pregnancy tests? HSC tests?
    b) Assuming you mean Rapid Antigen Tests (RAT), then you fail to note that ‘the free market’ has produced a range of tests that differ in quality and without a regulatory authority who does test the RATs you wouldn’t know.

    I am reasonably confident in saying the readers and commenters of JQ’s blog are ‘mentally vaccinated’ (sterile variety) against nonsense.

  15. Bloomberg tweeted a few hours ago:

    BREAKING: The U.S. tops 1 million Covid infections in 24 hours, doubling the figure from just four days ago and setting a global record

    These are the infections the US system ‘officially’ recognise. There are probably a whole lot more undocumented cases.

  16. A tweet by Matt (@crudeoilpeak) a few hours earlier on a graphical comparison of NSW hospitalisation rates (between the 1 Aug 2021 to 12 Sep 2021 wave vs 23 Nov 2021 to 4 Jan 2022 wave):

    There is a new dynamic with hospitalizations, Mr @Dom_Perrottet @BradHazzard
    Comparing current wave with September 2021 wave

    What will it take for Premier Perrottet to act?

  17. I am wondering how many advocates of opening up now think that the current chaos in the Australian eastern states is a superior social and economic condition to suppression of the virus? Suppression of the virus had and has costs, certainly. But so far opening up appears to have much greater costs. If people follow the honor system and personally lock down when they should (i.e. when they are symptomatic or have a positive test if they can get a test) then we would find, I would argue, that many more people are locked down now then ever before. And general social chaos and waste of time and resources is higher than ever before.

    Queensland had a good lifestyle before this “opening up”. We were mostly COVID-19 free. We had a few short, sharp lock-downs mostly limited to suburban or postcode localities. Those of us who wished to take, and could take, extra precautions did so as per our personal risk profiles and personal risk assessments (mostly based on “feel” and heuristics). Now that we are “opened up” we are perversely under more personal, social and economic disruption pressures than ever. This has proven (not that it needed to be proven) that suppression and eradication are superior to “letting it rip”.

    Early on, in this blog and elsewhere, various people argued for suppression and even eradication (In Australia at least) of COVID-19. John Quiggin was prominent in making this assessment and prediction. I don’t recall all of his reasoning and I am poor at re-finding old posts on this blog but mention of the “policy domination” principle was prominent. J.Q. argued for and demonstrated that the suppression (and by extension final eradication) policy dominated over all other policies. The considerations involved the idea that the moderate up front costs of initial lock-downs plus the moderate continuing costs of targeted test, trace, isolate and quarantine are lower than the total costs of ongoing waves of sickness, sequelae and death plus the costs of (endless) so far waves of disruption to personal, social and economic life.

    I would like to see J.Q. revisit his arguments, both restating them and comparing the strategies and their outcomes, both internationally an at home. Australia has become an economic laboratory (as well as a petri dish) for this argument. We experienced almost two years of successful suppression of the virus except for some notable outbreaks in Victoria and NSW. These notable outbreaks were, in the themselves, mostly due to the refusal to do national border disease control and quarantine properly. We are now experiencing unrestricted viral spread. The next two years will make an interesting economic comparison to the last two years for Auatralian economics.

    As with all economic challenges and changes, one of the key problems lies with the burdens of different strategies falling inequitably on different population segments. Residents of NSW and Victoria who were locked down for significant periods experienced greater burdens than residents of Qld. who like me were never officially locked down much. (Actually, personally I probably locked down harder and longer than any official lock-down in Australia as I have a vulnerable father-in-law and a vulnerable wife. But my lock-down was no sacrifice to me. I live far from the madding crowd by choice and have the means to do so.) The pertinent point here is that as differential burdens fall on different people, from targeted the lock-downs, and often on people who do not have the means to meet such costs, then social welfare, social medicine provision and so on are necessary to re-equalize burdens.

    The burden of locking down fell on other people too. The young, footloose and fancy-free felt it a burden. That’s true. I would have too in my day. But the fact is, as I outlined above, opening up and letting it rip, have spread worse burdens throughout the whole community. Most of the people I see wasting their time in the televised super long testing lines are young people. No doubt, many are there because they have relatively precarious jobs and incomes and need medical proof to take sick leave and isolate. And their leave and isolation is mostly to protect other people, older people etc., as the young people themselves are not usually in too much danger.

    The burden of locking down also fell on capitalists. However, strangely or not so strangely many of them were hyper over-compensated, keeping billions of dollars of assistance for which they did not legally qualify. I don’t suppose we will see any robodebts over that issue. The push to open up and let it rip came from special interest capitalist groups namely commercial passenger aviation, the tourism “industry”, the entertainment “industry”, the education “industry”, the migrant intake “industry” and so on. I use the term “industry” in scare quotes because none of these are actually industries. Industries make or produce stuff. These “industries” feed discretionary and non-essential consumption.

    It is interesting and indeed diagnostic that these consumption “industries” all of which are highly subsidized even in normal times and which received over-compensation in pandemic times as mentioned above, then got their way when they lobbied for opening up with all caution just thrown to the winds. They have received a huge injection of revenue as (for example) 500,000 people flooded into Queensland to seed Omicron from one end of the state to the other; an enormously “successful” infection event. I just wonder what their revenues will look like long term. And who else now diferentially bears the costs right now to allow them to have Xmas/New Year payday.

    This debacle is no way to run an economy, IMHO. Now we get to see where this experiment leads, what the costs and benefits are and who differentially bears the first and reaps the second (where does inequality go to in all this). I for one hope J.Q., his students or others do a macro and econometric longitudinal study (correct terms?) of this period of Australian economic history which is very much like a real economic experiment. We had two years mostly COVID-19 suppressed now we will have x years of unrestrained endemicity. Personally, if the second part of the experiment proceeds on substantially neoliberal principles, I think it is London to a brick that the outcomes will be worse for most people but that a tiny rich minority will grow relatively (or differentially) richer again.

  18. The perils of writing quickly. Obviously, I made a mistake above in not delineating between public education as a social good and education as a profit “industry”. Other than that mistake, my argument above stands.

  19. “the problem — or opportunity…
    “A shilling put out at 6% compound interest at our Saviour’s birth would…have increased to a greater sum than the whole solar system could hold, supposing it a sphere equal to the diameter of Saturn’s orbit’.[iv] Even if we calculate Saturn’s orbit as we know it today, this would be a considerable lump of gold. Today it serves as a proof that any system involving compound interest sooner or later will collapse, as during financial crises.”
    *

    “The Nobel Prize winner that predicted a crisis between nature and capital

    “Soddy points to the fundamental difference between the biophysical resources and consumables — what he calls ‘real wealth’ — that are subject to the laws of thermodynamics. This wealth will rot, rust, wear out, or be consumed. Money and debt — which he calls ‘virtual wealth’ — are only subject to the laws of mathematics. Money can grow without limits, whereas the real economy cannot. In this mismatch, says Soddy, lies the roots of most of our economic problems.

    “A core subject for Soddy was therefore the underlying mismatch between the real economy and the monetary economy. This problem had been recognized already in Mesopotamia under the rule of Hammurabi (1810–1760 BC).[iii] Advised by his mathematicians, he solved the problem by cancelling debt with unpredictable intervals, a practice which in the Bible’s Old Testament survives under the term ‘Jubilee Years’. In 1772 the Welsh moral philosopher and mathematician Richard Price (1723–1791) formulated the problem — or opportunity — in this way: ‘A shilling put out at 6% compound interest at our Saviour’s birth would…have increased to a greater sum than the whole solar system could hold, supposing it a sphere equal to the diameter of Saturn’s orbit’.[iv] Even if we calculate Saturn’s orbit as we know it today, this would be a considerable lump of gold. Today it serves as a proof that any system involving compound interest sooner or later will collapse, as during financial crises.

    “In my view Frederick Soddy was right when it comes to the mismatch between the financial economy and the real economy, but the pessimism we often find in ecological economics does not necessarily follow from his teachings. Here the US economist Erasmus Peshine Smith (1814–1882) has an explanation as to why there are certain areas where we do not have to be that pessimistic.”…

    View at Medium.com

  20. My last comment above was suppised to be in Msg Bd. This one definitely for “Grim Covid prediction for January in NSW: ‘LUNACY’”.

    Not sure about a Prez saying this but it feels good. Morrison’s mantra as a dog whistle is “the market” but really our Prime Minister is saying ‘we don’t want to piss off the markets, just the poor into accepting austerity’.
    *

    “Macron declares his Covid strategy is to ‘piss off’ the unvaccinated

    “I am not about pissing off the French people,” the president said in an interview with readers of Le Parisien daily on Tuesday. “But as for the non-vaccinated, I really want to piss them off. And we will continue to do this, to the end. This is the strategy.”

    “In a democracy, the worst enemies are lies and stupidity,” Macron said. “We are putting pressure on the unvaccinated by limiting, as much as possible, their access to activities in social life.”

    “France has vaccinated almost 90% of its population who are eligible, Macron said, and it was “only a very small minority who are resisting. How do we reduce that minority? We reduce it – sorry for the expression – by pissing them off even more.”

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/jan/04/macron-declares-his-covid-strategy-is-to-piss-off-the-unvaccinated

  21. To reply to KT2 on the first topic.

    Nature and Capital.

    Physicists know the earth is finite (and that the solar system is too for that matter). A lot of economists, even the good ones, seem to have trouble with this concept. Whilst the good economists accept that the earth is physically finite and clearly understand the physical science basis, they seem to think that “wealth” and “value” can still increase infinitely, or at least open-endedly, for a very long time to come. They have great trouble seeing our near-term limits approaching. Why is this? It is a question which troubles me.

    I think a couple of things at least are happening. The first issue is the over-emphasis on substitutions. It is often thought and propounded that substitutions permit (almost) endless growth. But there are limits to substitutions too. The second issue is the propounding of de-coupling: that is of de-coupling product, service and value creation from resource and energy consumption. Both of these process are real but will also hit physical limits. They also fall foul, especially under capitalist conditions, to Jevons’s Paradox. Make production more efficient and people will just use more and more goods and services and consume all the savings.

    At a deeper level, the good conventional economists make these errors, I believe, because they are still ontological (Cartesian) dualists at heart. They believe there is still an ideal or formal or knowledge or value realm that is separate from the physical or the “monistic existence” realm. This is where they are wrong and go wrong, IMHO. They believe, if not in Deus ex Machina or in Ghosts in the Machine, then in “Ghosts coming out of the machine”. Ideals, formalisms, human knowledge and values are viewed as something coming out of the monistic reality but not subject to its demonstrable laws which interconnect all phenomena.

    This is the gauntlet I throw down to the better “conventional economists.”. Either admit to your Cartesian dualist philosophical and ontological foundations or explain in some other way how values and uses could decouple from fundamental monist reality (because that is essentially what you are proposing). It’s not a gauntlet I see anyone picking up yet. Now, if you want to say you believe in endless growth because the god of the prosperity gospel will give it to us (the “deserving” ones at least) or you believe in endless growth because use values and value per se (whatever that is) are free-standing from phsycial reality, then say that. Otherwise explainin philosophical and empirical terms speaking why I should take the endless growth or “physical limits are not near” arguments seriously. And why in turn I should take any economics seriously which has not solved this foundational disciplinary problem. Or perhaps “conventional” economics has solved this problem. Point me to the foundational ontological text. I can’t find it. I strongly suspect it does not exist because conventional economics has no valid foundational ontology. I mean a real, empirically attested ontology.

  22. John Quiggin tweeted on 26 Dec 2021:

    By mid-Jan, NSW hospitalizations likely to approach 5000 on current policy settings*. That’s 25% of all beds in the system. Add a 25 per cent cut due to staff isolating, and half the beds normally available will be gone. Talk of “living with Covid” is fatuous nonsense.

    With a follow-up tweet:

    Assuming hospitalisations lag cases by a couple of weeks, and we go to 25000 cases/day as predicted by Hazzard.

    NSW daily COVID cases have recently well and truly exceeded the 25,000 cases/day threshold on Jan 05 (at 35,054) & 06 (at 34.994). The daily positivity rates (above 30% from Jan 5) suggest there are many more undocumented cases in the community.
    https://covidlive.com.au/report/daily-cases/nsw

    Matt (@crudeoilpeak) has graphed in a tweet earlier today the NSW hospitalisation curves for the Delta (1 Aug 2021 to 14 Sep 2021) wave versus the current Omicron (23 Nov 2021 to 6 Jan 2022):

    NSW COVID-related hospitalisation at Jan 06: 1,609 (_7.77% of ~20,720 available NSW beds);
    NSW COVID-related ICU at Jan 06: _ _ _ _ _ _ _131 (14.82% of ~884 available NSW beds).

    More than 2,000 health workers are currently furloughed in NSW, and The Guardian Australia reported on Tuesday (Jan 4) that some workers who had tested positive were being called in to work if asymptomatic.

    10 days to go to mid-Jan 2022, and 2/3rds of the way to go to get to the 5,000 NSW hospitalisation scenario. IMO, what happens in the next few days will likely reveal the trajectory of how close JQ’s tweeted scenario matches the emerging reality.

    How many more NSW residents have to suffer & die before the NSW government begins to act to moderate the Omicron wave?

  23. Nobody who has predicted bad outcomes from COVID-19 has been precisely right. COVID-19’s bad outcomes have always exceeded the most pessimistic predictions. The next stage of COVID-19 pandemic and neoliberal political economy reactions to it is always much worse than you think it is going to be. We ought to learn from that.

    My wife and I are double-vaxxed, completed on or about 1 Dec. (Quite late and there were valid medical reasons for that for both of us.) That means we can’t get a booster yet. We are assuming our vaccinations are essentially useless against Omicron infection and essentially useless in preventing a disease experience at least subjectively equal to the worst flu we have ever experienced in our lives, and considerably more dangerous. We are not in a hurry to risk repeating that experience. We are also assuming my wife’s medical preconditions could quite possibly land her in hospital with Omicron. That is if there is an ambulance and a hospital bed for her which would both seem unlikely at the peak when hospitals and ambulances will be completely overwhelmed.

    Hence we are locking down totally except for a few absolutely necessary medical appointments (which are proving a little to hard to totally avoid at the moment.) But we are old and not the prime concern of society. Fair enough, but at the other end of the scale Omicron looks bad for kids. Whether this is from sheer infection numbers or from Omicron being more severe for kids than earlier variants is not certain yet but it is a real concern.

    If we don’t care about anything else, we should show some concern for the kids. There are still too many aspects about COVID-19 and its seemingly endless variants that we don’t know about yet: can’t know about yet as the data are not in or they are potential future developments not yet actualized in the present. I predict that rampant spread (letting it rip) will sooner or later unleash (evolve) an outright “kid killer” variant. This seems very likely to me, actually more probable than not. Maybe it seems unlikely to others but how can we possibly know? It is not a risk we should be taking. In any case, the examples of “suppression nations” and “let it rip nations” show that the economic and health outcomes in let it rip nations are far worse. Why are we (or our elites?) being such total idiots about this?

  24. Those 200000 cases that could never happen, because they alegdly never happened anywhere before – at 75000 confirmed cases (1 day numbers), with a 15% test positivity rate (7 day average), they are in all likelyhood here today. https://ourworldindata.org/explorers/coronavirus-data-explorer?tab=map&zoomToSelection=true&facet=none&pickerSort=desc&pickerMetric=total_cases&Metric=Confirmed+cases&Interval=New+per+day&Relative+to+Population=true&Color+by+test+positivity=false&country=~AUS

    Looks pretty much the same in most other nations or really all western nations where Omricon is already dominant, including those with very high two shot vaccination rates. To avoid getting completly mad, it´s worth pointing out that delaying infections until so many people got two shots and medical threatment got better still saved the majority of people that would have otherwise died.

  25. Here is an excellent article from the ABC website

    “As Omicron moves in, Australia is facing a predictable tragedy in aged care” – Anne Connolly.

    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-01-07/covid-omicron-aged-cases-grow/100742312

    What it is saying essentially is that nothing has changed; nothing has been remedied despite the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety and the lessons we should have learned from the earlier waves of COVID-19 affecting nursing homes. Here are some salient points but the article is worth reading in full.

    “Australians might have thought the elderly would have been prioritised for booster shots. But just a third of residents have received the )booster) jab from federal government contractors.”

    “Reports from families and staff on the ground say there’s often a shortage of rapid tests, a lack of PPE, an ad hoc policy on lockdowns and an absolute dearth of carers.”

    “Not everyone in nursing homes is eligible for the booster because of the gap needed between jabs. However, if the federal government had vaccinated them in April last year under its “priority” listing as promised, every one of them would have been able to receive it by now.”

    “Boosters aren’t mandatory for staff, but merely “encouraged”. It’s hard to believe that staff aren’t required to have a booster shot.”

    “Staff are still allowed to work between multiple nursing homes.”

    “Many (staff) are leaving the sector altogether after the government rejected the royal commission’s recommendations for a pay rise for carers… None of it (the federal funding budget) has been spent trying to attract crucial personal care workers who make up the vast majority of staff. This was one of the royal commission’s most important recommendations.”

    All this goes to the issue that Prof. John Quiggin identified, about the neoliberal governance of this Federal government, in his brilliant article in the The Monthly, “Dismembering government”. This government DOES NOTHING. Problems are identified, recommendations are made and this government DOES NOTHING. It is wilful and deliberate. In a clever pun, conscious or unconscious, John Quiggin’s title also suggests “Disremembering government.” “Disremembering” suggests wilful forgetting. This government actively works to ensure citizens forget things and it actively works to forget its own responsibilities.

    But as J.Q’s title directly suggests, government is deliberately dismembered. A government without administrative arms or without effective administrative arms cannot do things. This is the neoliberal, minarchist intention and goal. The state capacity to do stuff is removed. This leaves the entire field open to private enterprise and private enterprise simply is not interested in doing anything that relates to a social goal.

    J.Q. is also big on the idea of opportunity cost. Rightly so. Where opportunity cost is conceptualized (and real quantity measured) in terms of real resources and real labour (physical and intellectual), the idea is indisputable. Resources and labour used for purpose A from time t1 to time t2 cannot be used for purpose B from time t1 to time t2. Most of our essential tasks are time critical. Furthermore, where the resource is not renewable or reproducible and/or the task was time critical, as above, then the loss is irreparable.

    At a personal level, I make the above concepts meaningful by considering real examples that I am aware of. It helps to have a holistic real complex system model in mind to assist this. In other words it helps to understand that everything connects to everything else in some way. It also helps to have a wife who researches community events and the community grapevine on-line and keops me up on the “local goss”. In my locality, a well known tavern held a New Year “Foam Party”. Leaving aside the environmental concerns, this frankly looks like a really stupid idea at a time of hyper-exponential Omicron spread. So it turned out to be. On the community internet grapevine at least four or five people (maybe more now and obviously young adults) identified that they had almost certainly caught COVID-19 (almost certainly Omicron variant) at this foam party. Who knows what the real number is? Nobody is measuring these things anymore or even can measure these things anymore.

    The bar staff and other staff are employed to serve alcohol and to organize and offer entertainments. If our society had different priorities, overall at a national level, then some of these people could have been retrained to undertake aged care at good enough wages to attract them away from bar staff duties. But our society as a whole thought it more important to license and facilitate idiotic entertainments than to care for people in pain and danger.

    Now, I was young once. Did I engage in drinking and idiotic entertainments? Of course I did. But I left off those excesses as I matured and developed. Something a society needs to do is make sure more mature heads prevail (without being total killjoys) especially in serious and crisis times. Otherwise, we party while the nation burns, from fevers and bush-fires. I see a nation of infantilised adults, to some considerable extent, unable to leave off partying and entertainments even in critical times. I see this nation led by an elite of money-grubbing enablers who make money out of encouraging the many consumer addictions people can fall prone to instead of encouraging anything higher and better. There is no doubt that if our incentives were better organized via proper social democratic state direction then there would be more encouragements to spend resources and labor truly productively and humanely and less encouragement to waste and fritter away valuable labor and resources.

    It’s about balance of course. No need for anyone to be a wowser. But our society is seriously out of balance. It can’t leave off childish entertainments even in a time of serious national crisis. That is diagnostic of a certain national and social pathology: a pathology encouraged by the elites for their own narrow money making purposes. If freedom is freedom to drink and go to the cricket but it is not freedom to be safe when vulnerable, ill or old then such a freedom is worthless. It’s a degradation of what freedom ought to be. It debases everybody and everything.

    As I’ve said, my wife is potentially vulnerable to COVID_19 with her medical pre-condtions . Some might say “Don’t take it personally, it’s only business, it’s only the economy.” But when business as usual threatens me and mine, it IS personal. And I DO take it personally. VERY personally. Indeed, personally received threats and injustices are the very stuff of the next step, the coalescence of social movements. As usual, my wife is more concerned for others than herself. As she said, “I am locking down as much because I don’t want to be THAT person, you know the person who visits the aged person home (where her dad is) and brings Omicron in.”

    Capitalist money making and property accrual occurs in a society. Not in a vacuum. It’s not an untrammeled right and it’s not a license to make money at the cost of harm to others. If we don’t re-examine all this and change matters quite profoundly, by changing the incentives in our society, then it is destined to disintegrate, decline and collapse. We are at a critical juncture Selfishness, greed and callousness are not virtues and they don’t hold a society together.

  26. NSW hospitalisations continue to rise. Matt (@crudeoilpeak) has updated the comparison graph of NSW hospitalisations for Delta wave (1 Aug 2021 – 15 Sep 2021) versus current Omicron wave (23 Nov 2021 – 7 Jan 2022):

    @BroedeCarmody Hospitalizations are now well above previous wave, show steeper growth path
    @Dom_Perrottet – why did you relax previous restrictions like those on mass events?
    @RyanPark_Keira

    NSW COVID-19 cases at Jan 7 was 38,625 with positivity at 34.26%
    https://covidlive.com.au/report/daily-positive-test-rate/nsw

    Meanwhile, Raina MacIntyre in The Conversation on Jan 5 discussed what now for Australia, highlighting two options:

    If there’s no change in policy, there will be a higher, faster peak that far exceeds available health care, which may then force a lockdown. If people who need simple measures like oxygen cannot get a hospital bed, the death rate will start rising.

    The other option is to use “vaccines-plus” to flatten the curve and ease the load on society and the health system.

    https://theconversation.com/from-covid-control-to-chaos-what-now-for-australia-two-pathways-lie-before-us-174325

    For those that suggest we “let it rip” and rely on “herd immunity”, Raina MacIntyre cautions with:

    It’s worth doing everything we can to prevent COVID and the long term burden of illness it may cause. In addition to long COVID, SARS-CoV-2 lingers in the heart, brain and many other organs long after the acute infection, and we don’t know the long term impacts of this.

    I’d suggest there’s a high risk recurring COVID epidemics could prove to erode human lifespan. If it doesn’t kill you first time, it may inflict damage it will exploit in subsequent re-infections. Without more effective vaccines, this is probably what “living with COVID” really means.

    When will politicians learn?

  27. Geoff Miell is correct in his statements and quotes above. It was of course dangerous lunacy to let Omicron rip when we knew what it was doing to other nations; Denmark, UK and USA for example.

    The “vaccines-only” strategy has comprehensively failed. This was predictable and predicted. Immune escape and vaccine escape, especially of Omicron (and likely even worse for future variants as this outcome is now being selected for evolutionarily) means that the vaccines are almost NO protection against infection and transmission although some protection against serious illness and death… for about 3 or 4 months only it seems. After that, protection itself is becoming very “leaky” too.

    All of this was predictable and predicted by those who specialized in virology and epidemiology and by any basically biological-sciences-literate person who read up on same to his or her limit of comprehension. However, even these people needed one more aid to the comprehension of the real and potential medical, social, emergent/evolutionary facts. They needed to NOT be captured by stultifying and static neoliberal ideology: an ideology so bound to its axioms it cannot admit empirical facts. People bound by this ideology, but also somewhat science-literate, compartmentalize internally and prevaricate to others to avoid the obvious cognitive and conceptual dissonance.

    Right from the outset, a number of myths were promulgated about SARS_Cov_2. The major myth amounted to a claimed certainty that herd immunity was a lay down Misère. But there never was anything like that certainty and in the sciences of virology, epidemiology and human (lung) physiology the potential obstacles to this happy outcome were already well known. There were plenty of markers and indicators that herd immunity would be unlikely to be the operative case unless said herd immunity was effected to full eradication via universal (global) vaccination rates to about 95% plus of all non-infants plus by test, trace, isolate, mask, distance and quarantine.

    In other words, the measures needed to put herd immunity into effect approached and indeed merged with the measures needed to suppress and eradicate (due to the scientifically suspected and then progressively emerging characteristics of the virus). Now, this wasn’t known to complete certainty before new facts emerged but scientific suspicions among the more brilliant scientists were very high that it would be the case. How is their brilliance known? After the fact, by their “predictive luck”. But their predictive luck was based on analyses of already known properties of RNA and corona viruses in general and the probabilities these facts inferred for the behaviors and evolution of a new species in that family.

    In the above situation, suppression to eradication was logical from the outset: the best bet by far. John Quiggin’s phrase (IIRC in general terms) that “the suppression/eradication policy dominates” is in some ways the analogous economic equivalent of the medical/epidemiological prediction that suppression/eradication would dominate from a medical “preventable harm” perspective. J.Q. may have even alluded to this. I haven’t drawn out the parallels extensively in my own mind but I suspect the fundamental logics are very similar, if not identical. It can be summed up by two old adages. A stitch in time saves nine. A lock-down in time saves nine. Prevention is better than cure. Preventing a vulnerable person from getting COVID-19 is better, easier and cheaper (and more moral!) than trying to cure them by hospitalization, ventilation and intubation. I suspect the logics precisely meet in the concept opportunity cost but as I say I haven’t attempted to draw out the parallels.

    There are new developments occurring right now where Perrottet et al. are about to wear serious egg on their faces and serious losses in their political, social and even financial capital; not to mention the wider “open up” lobby, especially but not only the aviation, tourist and hospitality/entertainment lobbies. The position is very fluid and rapidly developing right now. We are heading towards a very serious national crisis at all levels: medical, social, economic, political and moral/ethical. How we react determines whether we collapse into the endlessly collapsing US style of neoloberalism, collapsing all the way to social and national disintegration with horrendous wastage of human potential, or whether we (re)-institute a true commonwealth (for the common weal, for the common good) where a social democratic or democratic socialist (choose your preferred term) national government and national zeitgeist save us from national ruin. The situation is that serious.

  28. Tweeted by The Lead CNN on Jan 4 included a 5½ minute video of an interview with Dr. Peter Hotez, co-director for Vaccine Development at Texas Children’s Hospital, on the surge in Covid-19 hospitalizations at the largest US pediatric hospital. Dr Hotez, from time interval 0:03:20 refers to a UK study indicating roughly 1-in-7 kids in London are going on to develop ‘Long-COVID’ symptoms. Dr Hotez said: “We don’t know what that means for their neural development, because in some adults we’re seeing grey matter brain degeneration, cognitive declines. We don’t know if that’s going to be a situation in kids. So this could haunt us for a long time…

    The first findings from the world’s largest study on ‘long-COVID’ in children by Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children, dated 2 Sep 2021 is at: https://www.gosh.nhs.uk/news/first-findings-from-worlds-largest-study-on-long-covid-in-children/

    Deepti Gurdasani, epidemiologist and statistical geneticist who is a public health researcher at the Queen Mary University of London, tweeted late yesterday (Jan 6):

    How on earth is this not a scandal? Long COVID numbers in children have more than tripled in 6 months. 117,000 children with long COVID and 20,000 with illness for *more than a year*. How on earth is this acceptable? – these are children!

    When people say “we need to live with COVID”, is this what they intend?

  29. Quite right again, Geoff Miell. The morbidity effects on children (and adults) of COVID-19 and Long Covid WILL haunt of our societies for generations to come IF our societies last that long. Living with climate change and living with COVID-19 are strategies, which when combined, are easily capable of destroying our societies and perhaps even global civilization. Our current leaders and elites are fools, charlatans, poltroons and yes, in some cases, outright villains. The levels of culpable negligence and disregard of public safety are morally criminal.

    Those who advocated for a suppress-to-eradication strategy were and are 100% correct. Such views are now fully vindicated. Those still in favor of opening up, or staying open, understand far too little about what is going on. This includes that subset of Chief Health Officers, virologists and epidemiologists, seemingly incapable of complex system analysis, who seem to have weakened and gone over to the side of neoliberal ignorance and are promoting a strategy which is already failing. They seem to be assuming vaccination is still working as originally sold (namely that it lowers infection and spread). Vaccination is no longer working in this manner to any effective extent. The virus has already escaped that net. It will now mutate (in all likelihood) to escape general vaccination protection, at least without further vaccine developments beyond the mRNA amended spike protein (2 Proline additions) approach.

    There are still potential evolutionary forcings (or just flukes) capable of pushing the virus in the direction of increased virulence as well as increased contagiousness.

    https://www.timesofisrael.com/soaring-omicron-could-mutate-into-more-dangerous-variants-warns-who-official/

    As in the Hunger Games, the more times your name goes into a lottery for a bad outcome, the higher tje chance you face a bad outcome. The pandemic/endemic is a dangerous lottery with only bad outcomes. The more times we spin the lottery cage and pull a ball out, the more chance we draw the death or disablement ball. Only fools, charlatans, poltroons and possibly even outright villains would keep this lottery running.

    In the spirit of honest advertising: Welcome to the Virus Games! May the Neoliberal Authorities ever reduce your chances of more quality life years.

  30. While…
    “Scott Morrison is in the Fox commentary box at the Sydney Cricket Ground for the Ashes. Cringe, I know.”

    At 12:12pm
    “Australian Medical Association president Omar Khorshid has let rip about … well, about New South Wales letting it rip.

    “Having decided weeks ago to let it rip, Dominic Perrottet is now seeing the results of that decision,” he said.

    “He said new restrictions (reportedly coming in later today) might “slightly slow the spread”:

        “But there’s no way they’re going to turn this curve around … it’s going to take some weeks to reach this peak, and therefore, we just have to brace ourselves.

    “We’ve got to cancel elective surgery. That’s coming. We’ve got to make sure that as many health staff are available as possible, and we’ve got to make sure that everybody in the community knows how to best look after their health when they catch Covid, because it’s not going to be going to a hospital ED unless you’re really quite sick. If you’re moderately sick, you probably need to be in touch with your GP.

    “But for the majority of people who have a mild illness, you don’t need a doctor. You just need to go to the HealthDirect website, look at the symptom checker, manage your own health, so that the medical resources are there for those who are … struggling with more severe symptoms.

    “The reality is our hospitals are under extraordinary pressure, and those long-suffering staff who’ve had a very difficult couple of years, instead of having a break over Christmas, they’ve had their leave cancelled and they’re facing huge demand at the front door of the ED whilst their colleagues, their co-workers, other doctors, other nurses, are falling sick, having to stay at home and look after sick children.

    “And you’re hearing stories of wards with half or even less than half of their normal number of nurses available … So it’s almost a perfect storm of pressure. And it’s just not true to say our health system is so resilient it can cope with anything. There are limits, unfortunately.”

    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/live/2022/jan/07/australia-live-news-update-nsw-repor

  31. And a self imposed personal movement & Spending lockdown.

    NSW worst week for spending -40% down -less being spent than in midst of Delra wave lockdown.

    Virus 1 politics 0.

    Can someone please update Keating’s recession quote.

  32. KT2,

    Exactly… on all comments. Many sensible people are locking down; going nowhere and spending nothing unless it is online. Only the unwise people or the young adults or those who imagine themselves invulnerable for some reason are out and about for non-essential purposes.

    A North Qld. holiday resort is in the news today. Tourists are calling it the” holiday from hell” as prepared meals run out at the resort and day trips and activities are cancelled. The resort has an acute staff shortage due to, you guessed it, COVID-19. I don’t actually feel much sympathy for the adult tourists… for the kids, yes.

    Honestly, “if you do non-essential travel and holiday during a national and global pandemic then you are a bloody idiot”.

    If people think this is going to be the last bad variant and wave, I think they are kidding themselves. It could be but the odds against that are quite high.

  33. ‘Omicron the Pandemic Killer’ Idea Ignores Dangers of Long COVID
    January 7, 2022 Frank Diamond
    https://www.infectioncontroltoday.com/view/-omicron-the-pandemic-killer-idea-ignores-dangers-of-long-covid
    “Infection preventionists and other health care professionals once again on the frontlines battling a COVID-19 surge need be wary of “mild” symptoms that could haunt them in the long run.
    Sometimes lost among the evidence that the Omicron variant of COVID-19 might be a way to, ironically, end the pandemic–mild symptoms and high infectivity might get us to herd immunity—is this question: What about long COVID? That’s especially pertinent to infection preventionists (IPs) and other health care professionals who find themselves yet again on the frontlines of another surge….

    Everybody but everybody hopes that this pandemic will end, but experts like Kavanagh point out there’s a difference between hoping and wishful thinking. In terms of evolutionary survival, viruses have billions of years of a head start on humans. And just as the world focuses less on Delta and more on Omicron, yet another variant has been spotted.

    B.1.640.2 is so new that it doesn’t have an official name yet, but it’s being called the IHU variant because investigators with IHU Mediterranee Infection discovered it. Their study, also on medRxiv, states that the IHU variant contains “46 mutations and 37 deletions resulting in 30 amino acid substitutions and 12 deletions” and affects parts of the brain that control taste and smell, a point made by Anthony Harris, MD, in a recent Q&A with ICT®. “The reason why very likely you lose your sense of smell and taste is not from the virus infecting your nerves—the actual peripheral nerves here for the sense of taste and smell—but it affects the centers in your brain,” Harris said.

    The IHU study states that the “data are another example of the unpredictability of the emergence of SARS-CoV-2 variants, and of their introduction in a given geographical area from abroad.”…”

    [[[cf. CHO believes Omicron wave creates immunity as Queensland cases surge By Mark Saunokonoko, Savannah Meacham Jan 5, 2022
    https://www.9news.com.au/national/coronavirus-queensland-updates-new-case-numbers-predictions-thousands-cases-in-january/07c4fb14-caf5-40ae-883d-8c6ec3d8f037
    “Queensland’s Chief Health Officer believes the Omicron wave will create herd immunity as the state’s COVID-19 cases and hospitalisations surge.
    The state recorded 6781 new cases overnight which is a jump from yesterday where 5699 infections were reported
    Chief Health Officer Dr John Gerrard said he “strongly” believed the current Omicron wave would last “a period of weeks” and will massively help create immunity across the community.”]]]

  34. Why Children With COVID-19 Swamp Pediatric Hospitals
    January 6, 2022 Frank Diamond
    https://www.infectioncontroltoday.com/view/why-children-with-covid-19-swamp-pediatric-hospitals
    “Omicron is going hard after the pediatric population, many of whom are too young to be vaccinated and whose vital organs, which COVID-19 attacks, are still in development….”

    Viewpoint: Those Who Underestimate Omicron Aren’t Doing the Math
    January 5, 2022 Kevin Kavanagh, MD
    https://www.infectioncontroltoday.com/view/viewpoint-those-who-underestimate-omicron-aren-t-doing-the-math
    “Infectivity causes more harm and deaths than lethality and in the case of Omicron more than makes up for its somewhat milder infections in immunologically naive individuals.”

    Even ‘Mild’ COVID-19 Can Make You the Sickest You’ve Ever Been
    January 5, 2022 Kevin Kavanagh, MD
    https://www.infectioncontroltoday.com/view/even-mild-covid-19-can-make-you-the-sickest-you-ve-ever-been
    “SARS-CoV-2 causes a system infection and is commonly detected in the heart and brain, exemplified by the loss of smell from brain tissue destruction and loss of cardiac function from myocarditis…

    Much of the abandonment of public health measures has been spurred by a massive disinformation campaign which has successfully convinced a relatively large portion of our population that as long as one lives through COVID-19 all will be well. The young and healthy have especially embraced this narrative. A narrative which offers false hope for the following reasons:

    First, the premise that mild infections do not carry significant risks is false. In part this belief is driven by those who have not died from COVID-19 being counted as “recovered” as opposed to “survived.”…”

  35. Looks like everybody should just stay home if they can.

    Scrabble? Horizontal folk dancing? Or me and my monkey?

  36. I am not a fan nor a critic of Novak Djokovic. Having said that, the Federal Government’s stance on Djokovic is absurd. The Feds let COVID-19 into Australia at multiple entry points and deliberately spread it everywhere with their absurd policies and lack of effective actions from day one. Compared to the Fed’s COVID-19 denialism and do-nothingism, Djokovic’s vaccine denialism is small beer. The Fed’s have unnecessarily attempted to ram COVID-19 down the throat of every Australian in ways which are making it extremely hard to avoid catching it. The vaccines are seriously leaky, everyone will catch it sooner or later and both some vaccinated and more unvaccinated people will have terrible outcomes. If Djokovic spouts antivax nonsense (I don’t really know, I don’t any pay attention to him off the courts and little to him on the courts) then we can ignore him. But we cannot ignore the actions of a government which rams COVID-19 down our throats.

    The handling of Djokovic’s visa also looks a “miscarriage of administration”. The Feds stuffed up and are making up rules as they go. Expect an appeal and possibly a successful appeal from Djokovic’s camp. The hotel he is in (with refugee detainees) is also clearly a disgrace for all persons there. Now this government bumbling and the maggots in the hotel food are being beamed to a world wide TV audience. Morrison is a buffoon. His government is not only a disgrace but completely incompetent at every level. For heaven’s sack let us vote these incompetent, mendacious and downright malicious idiots out of power at the next election.

  37. The Feds had their opportunity to reject the visa based on the evidence presented to them as part of the application for that visa. The reviewed it and granted the visa. Then, upon arrival on Australian soil, Djokovic can’t clear customs, because his visa is supposedly invalid. Unless he openly lied about something, his visa should have been valid at the point of entry. I can’t understand it. And in terms of public health risk, we have 115K newly *detected* cases today (some of them are from recent RAT result backlog, but most are new Omicron cases detected by PCR test), so how is one tennis player a threat to the nation? Seems churlish and politically motivated. Let’s face it, a minister of this government gets involved in order to make it political, and not because it is political.

  38. It’s more of dumb Slomo’s lousy but vastly over rated RAT cunning failing again.

    ‘Stunt’ Morrison’s Novax serve aces his RATs disaster, for now

    Niki Savva deserves the Walkley Award for commentary for a single phrase: “Morrison, who has a habit of allowing problems to become crises before mishandling them…”

    Scott Morrison has achieved a Donald Trump aim: If you don’t test, you don’t get cases.

    But, hey, look over there – Novax Djokovid!

  39. A RAT and a ZAPper too please.

    “Zapping the Brain and Nerves Could Treat Long COVID

    “Pilot studies test electrical treatments for the still-mysterious malady
    …”In her search for treatment, she came across neurologists at New York University (NYU) who were trying electrical neurostimulation for long COVID patients. She signed up for experimental treatments five days per week that send gentle electric currents through her skull and into her cortex.”

    “Some researchers began investigating whether neurostimulation could help with the acute phase of infection. In Brazil, Suellen Andrade of the Federal University of Paraiba recently concluded a study using transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) tohelp patients in the intensive care unit. While her team is still preparing a publication on the results, she says that patients who received the stimulation (instead of a sham treatment) required significantly less time on ventilators and were discharged sooner.”

    https://spectrum.ieee.org/long-covid-neurostimulation

  40. Yesterday (Jan 7), NSW Health published it’s Comparison of COVID-19 Ward and ICU Hospitalisation Prediction Scenarios, that shows 3 scenarios:

    1. Red Scenario (based on experience in New York):
    COVID-related ward beds at peak: 6,000
    COVID-related ICU beds at peak: _ _600

    2. Blue Scenario (NSW Health predictions with current settings):
    COVID-related ward beds at peak: 4,700
    COVID-related ICU beds at peak: _ _273

    3. Green Scenario (based on experiences in London & Gauteng):
    COVID-related ward beds at peak: 3,158
    COVID-related ICU beds at peak: _ _270

    NSW Health Hospital bed capacity: 9,500 (as at 6 Jan 2022)
    Public Hospital bed occupancy: _ _ 8,000 (as at 6 Jan 2022, including 1,600 COVID-19 patients)
    NSW Private Hospital bed capacity: 3,000
    ICU bed capacity: _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _1,000

    Click to access icu-predictions.pdf

    There’s no reason for optimism.

  41. I no longer believe the world has any way out of this pandemic without suppression and hopefully eradication of the SARS-CoV-2 pathogen. The acceptance of “endemicity”, which has become the new weasel word of neoliberal “epidemiology”, is simply an admission of failure and indeed a signal of the permanent end of progress in applied public and preventative medicine. In this sense, we have entered an era of regress. This regress will be measured, I predict, in the long term decline of life expectancy and quality life years lived in all countries in the world, with the possible exception of China and New Zealand who still appear to be following suppression strategies.

    When technological progress continues, as it is doing in the field of mRNA vaccines for example, there is nonetheless a problem when this progress is countervailed and indeed badly reversed by failures in other areas. We are currently seeing the egregious failure of the “vaccines only” approach as it is undermined by the failure to introduce or keep non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) and other public preventive measures properly in place, including functional test, trace, isolate, quarantine, mask and distance measures. Plus, I would add the necessity for strategic short-term to mid-term closure of non-essential businesses which place too many people in infective proximity. In summary, my argument is that we cannot deal with this SARS-CoV-2 pandemic problem purely via technological measures without the necessary supportive public and social measures.

    The current belief seems to be that we can “technologise” our way out of all our problems. We see the same thing happening with proposed climate change solutions where some future technology, not yet developed, is supposed to arrive and save us. These future techno-solutions are often shown to be boondoggles, like carbon capture and storage. Under the techno-optimist banner, if we can “technologise” our way out of problems at some future but unspecified date, there is no need ever to even partly socialize our way out of problems. Techno-optimism allies with, or has been co-opted by, the neoliberal political-economy hegemony.

    Testing, tracing, isolating, quarantining, masking and distancing are social measures in the sense that they require mass cooperation and mass “buy-in” to the social program. They require an acceptance of personal cost, effort and disutility for the common good, the social good. “Vaccination only” is a minimalist, indeed a minarchist approach. It is the minimum of social co-operation and compliance required. Two jabs and you can do anything you like again in terms of a freedom conceived of as a wholly and merely consumerist freedom.

    This “two-jab” approach appears to be failing already. What does “fully vaccinated” mean anymore? “Our World in Data” at its page “Coronavirus (COVID-19) Vaccinations” still seems to think it means two doses (at the appropriate interval). But two doses is no longer “fully vaccinated”, at least not after an elapse of time of as little as three months after the second dose. Fully vaccinated needs to be redefined to 3x vaccinations and indeed for vulnerable people already to 4x vaccinations in some cases. The cause of these problems is the interaction of two factors.

    The factors interacting are the mutation, recombination and evolution of the pathogen in question plus other characteristics of the pathogen and human immune physiology in interactive combination. I will come back to that in the next paragraph. In a classic case of hubris, humanity has overestimated the power of its technology and underestimated the power of nature’s “technology” including mutation, recombination and evolution. At the same time, humanity, under the spell of neoliberalism, has underestimated the power of human social cooperation, which is actually “nature’s technology” inhering in and intrinsic to humans as an evolved eusocial species.

    We underestimated the powers of mutation, recombination and evolution of the pathogen in question. Frankly, this was foolish. It was, or should have been, clear from the outset that a coronavirus of this class and an RNA virus to boot would have dangerous and extensive capabilities in the above regard. It has proven so. We underestimated the problems of stopping a bronchial infection-route virus that in addition does not have an obligate (absolutely necessary) blood or lymph transport lifecycle phase. What is the proof that we (or our neoliberal and techno-optimist elites) underestimated these dangers? The empirical proof is the serious mess we are in right now, in Australia and globally.

    Our vaccines are “leaking” badly. Our natural immunity from infection is also “leaking” badly. Reinfection after vaccination or infection is possible in as little as 3 months, definitely with new variants and possibly with the previous variant. In any case, variants are so numerous they are a veritable “cloud” not a neat, distinct and quite limited set of named variants like a virologist’s variant tree chart which only names major detected variants of interest and concern. Even “interest” and “concern” are categories with bounds set partly for pragmatic workability as the permutations are vast. How little variation is required for reinfection if variation is required for reinfection at all? This is a valid question.

    Indications currently are that the best we can achieve with a vaccination-only strategy of the current RNA technology vaccines is endlessly vaccinated endemicity (meaning probably 4 vaccinations a year for the rest of your rather shorter life) with continuing morbidity and deaths at unacceptable levels and continuing worker absences at unacceptable rates. The personal, social and economic losses of a chronic regime of this type would be sufficient I would think to bring a society to breakdown or to some kind of democratic or revolutionary watershed.

    Summing up, the vaccination-only strategy is a peculiarly “techno-neoliberal” solution. Social co-operation is reduced to that minimally necessary (get your jabs and receive social and consumerist licence) to continue capitalist production and consumption. Collateral human and social damage is ignored. Like other aspects of the neoliberal capitalist model it is not sustainable long term.

    In the long historical run, I predict that widespread endemicty of SARS-CoV-2 tending to repeating epidemic waves for years if not decades (as looks likely) will prove untenable. It is possible that it could fortuitously mutate to much milder and tolerable forms but this is far from certain in the medium term (up to 20 years). It is possible that new vaccine technologies taking RNA vaccines further, or even in some way superseding them, could be developed to “save the day”. But these are “Hail Mary” strategies. How long can we wait, while people suffer and die, until one these “Hail Mary passes” sticks?

    Meanwhile, suppression is the hard road, albeit in another way. It means foregoing certain personal and consumer “freedoms” to protect vulnerable people and it means remembering we and our loved ones all will become vulnerable at some point and potentially die an avoidable and unnecessary death under SARS-CoV-2 endless endemicity conditions. Suppression and eradication ought to be our Plan A with vaccine technology and praying it becomes mild as our run-in-parallel back-up plans B and C respectively. But vaccination-only is like running a back-up plan without a main plan. It’s madness.

  42. Ikon: – “But two doses is no longer “fully vaccinated”, at least not after an elapse of time of as little as three months after the second dose.

    Per the Spectrum News interview with the US President’s chief medical advisor, Dr. Anthony Fauci, published 29 Dec 2021:

    Dr. Fauci also told Spectrum News that the words used to define vaccination status could soon change.

    He said the label will likely evolve from “fully vaccinated” to “up to date,” to identify when someone has been boosted, which Fauci called critical for protection against the virus.

    “People should put aside this concern about a definition and say ‘If I want to be optimally protected, I should get boosted,’” he said.

    https://www.ny1.com/nyc/all-boroughs/news/2021/12/29/fauci-interview-long-covid-still-a-risk-with-milder-omicron-cases

  43. The future is uncertain…but WA shows we could have gone for suppression, if the right tools had been put in place, during 2020 and 2021. Every one of the lifted restrictions is a panic reaction to lack of workers in the essential services, be it distribution of food to supermarkets, or white collar work, or cops, or health workers. We cut back on the test and trace methods, on the need for a proper and full quarantine period, and we work people beyond exhaustion—witness the craziness of the work situation for the health professionals, no leave, double shifts, and having far too many patients per nurse. Over the top of this we need vaccinations and testing, yet lack both supply and staff for the former, and have too many new cases per day for the latter to keep up.

    Today, it is revealed that various pathology labs have decided not to run tests on samples taken more than seven days ago. If they are that mired in backlog, we can safely say we broke the testing system.

    Thanks, Premier Exocet; thanks, PM Aukus. We shall remember this time, and we will assign blame to those in power who dodged their own personal responsibility to us, the people of this wonderful country. How could you? How could you!

    As for those who claim we had to unleash the Kraken, and learn to live with it: we don’t learn to live with drug overdoses; we don’t learn to live with murder; we don’t learn to live with riots. We don’t learn to live with a lack of food. What we do, is if we can, we do something to remedy the situation. We don’t just shirk our responsibilities. We can’t stop these things, but we do an awful lot to minimise them. (Perhaps not enough, but that’s a different discussion.)

    There is so little cost in protecting people, without closing down businesses. The current situation has really shuttered otherwise viable businesses, and with the initial debt overhang of the first 18 months of the pandemic, to have let ‘er rip is actually why a number of businesses will fold. From now on, a drip-feed of collapse is on the cards. Furthermore, the shortages of necessities will feed into inflation in a way that previously hasn’t happened. That makes debt more expensive to hold.

    With respect to the virus, we now know enough to accept we need to find ways of living with its endemic presence; that’s not to say we accept most of the population having to catch Covid, unlike the apparent view of the federal and NSW governments. If we enforced the most basic of public health measures, life would go on with only some inconvenience. Proper masks, RATs freely available, and proper quarantine of overseas travelers, all would have meant we kept a lid on Covid.

    Omicron spreads in exactly the same way that Delta does, and hence exactly the same public health measures would work to contain outbreaks. None of this necessitates widespread lockdown of populations. Instead, NSW threw its hands up and said let ‘er rip. The PM said as much, too. So much for protecting the population.

    The ferocity of the spread of Omicron makes it rather likely that a new mutant variant pops up that can both exploit the vaccinated population, and can cause deep respiratory infection. If we are lucky, this won’t occur, but so far into this pandemic, why are we acting as if this was not a possibility? Why are we acting as if the Omicron variant marks a turning point, and everything will be plain sailing from here on? It’s friggin’ magical thinking, and smacks of a lack of consideration for proper planning under risk.

  44. Don,

    You are correct on every point.

    1. WA does show we could and should have gone for suppression, if the right tools had been put in place during 2020 and 2021.

    2. The lifted restrictions on essential workers are a knee jerk reaction. The Unions have already raised serious concerns that it could spread infection through the essential worker populations. That would then backfire and leave essential worker groups decimated and unable to keep essential services running. In addition, some infected essential workers like truckers and delivery drivers could then become another vector spreading infection through the population.

    3. Health workers are overloaded, pathology services have given up etc.

    4. We don’t “live with” other wicked problems be they medical or social. We do our best to prevent, treat, mitigate etc. John Quiggin has pointed this out over and over again in different writings, talks, forums, media.

    5. We are shuttered now more than ever. More people are hunkered down at home and more businesses are shuttered. Paradoxically, opening up has closed us down. That would be a good title for a J.Q. article, “Opening up has closed us down”.

    6. The arrival of new VOCs *variants of concern” globally is now almost certain, I would say 99% likely. If Australia stays internationally open, we can say it is then 99% these variants will get into our country. (We could even breed our own VOC though our low total population mitigates against that.)

    When (probably not if) a VOC arises which significantly and seriously attacks children or mothers and babies around the pregnancy, birth, baby infancy time window (which is quite possible) then it’s really going to be a bad situation. Then people are going to demand action. Threaten the young of any social or eusocial species and see what happens. The parents, guardians and kin go ballistic. I’d love to see the politicians and elites running for the hills when that happens.

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