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. Matt (@crudeoilpeak) tweeted earlier this morning a graph of NSW hospitalisations and bed capacity:

    @daniellamariewh @ChildsRos In #NSW we have 6,400 “normal” patients plus now 2,030 #covidnsw patients = 8,430 beds occupied. Total public hospital capacity 9,500. 1,070 to go. Around 10 days at current rate of increase @Dom_Perrottet asked for it, relaxed restrictions too early

    I wonder what the collateral damage will be with cancer, cardiac and other serious medical condition patients that can’t get adequate and timely medical care due to an increasingly overwhelmed health system.

    And yet I keep hearing ill-informed media commentators saying “Omicron is mild”. If this is “mild”, then what is severe?

    Professor Christina Pagel tweeted earlier this morning:

    Talking to @SkyNews about whether Covid is endemic yet (it isn’t) & the need to invest in clean air so that indoor environments are as safe as outdoor ones (or as close as we can get!) and focus on prevention *alongside* vaccines.

    A new study from Japan indicates for Omicron, infectious viral loads peak 3-6 days after symptom/diagnosis onset. Many people are ending isolation and returning to work/school while still infectious.

    IMO, there’s much incompetence, denial of reality and ‘hopium’ that’s consequently leading to substantial suffering and deaths.

  2. Another Omicron hit: The extensive Qld government public dental service in metro Brisbane at least, with most clinics closed is now down to doing extractions only.

  3. Geoff,
    The problem with CrudeOilPeak is that he assumes that hospital admissions will increase at the current rate. Already we are seeing the rate of increase decline fairly rapidly and will likely turn negative later this week or early next week. The data is choppy but shows a distinct decline in the rate of increase.

    Also, the graph shows a predicted peak of well below capacity if private hospitals are included – why aren’t they able to be used if necessary? Note also actual vs predicted.

    Elsewhere – London, NY etc. are now showing distinct signs that the peak is over, well below the ‘predicted’ disaster.

    Australia could be different – we should know by later this week.

  4. Thanks Ikon. As an anecdote, I had an AGL contractor come to change the meter over, early this morning. He looked at it, in the apartment block I am in, said the job was straightforward, but since there was no adequate ventilation in the corridor, the job would have to be rescheduled for when the covid eases off a bit. I tried not to laugh at that, such unbridled optimism so early on a Monday morning.

    Thanks to everyone else on this blog, too, for there is often interesting information brought to light. More sense here than in the utterings I hear from the press conferences. “You just push on through…” is just one more anodyne remark by our esteemed PM Aukus. The real question with his “we’ll get through this” is how many people is he comfortable with having come out the other side in a pine box?

  5. Svante, it is interesting that you mention dental services. I currently have a chipped and cracked tooth. Its fillings (plural) have failed before. I have no idea if my private system dentist is still working. I am not even bothering to ring and find out. I know it is unsafe for me and my family (vulnerable people in family) to go to the dentist despite us all being double vaccinated. Fortunately, I think the nerve in the tooth is dead. I can ignore it until when and if it abcesses or falls apart further. Then an emergency extraction or repair would be in order of course. Also, only an imminent danger of going blind in my one remaining good eye would induce me to go to my eye surgeon in the current circumstances, if he could even see me. Many people are having to make these kind of decisions. Probably hundreds of thousands at least in Australia. Then there are the people who need regular appointments for anything from crucial heart checks to kidney dialysis to psychological and psychiatric treatments. How are these people to get safe and regular checks and treatments?

    Vaccination is failing. That is the hard truth at this point. The failure is still early but progressive. The vaccines are doing almost nothing to prevent infection and spread at this point. I know seven people ranging in age from about 14 to 58, all in good general health and active outdoor people, all fit for their age, none obese, all double vaccinated quite recently with Pfizer (not yet eligible for boosters) and 5 out of 7 so far have rapidly came down with COVID-19 (almost certainly Omicron) and I await updates on the remaining two. These two are probably infected but asymptomatic thus far.

    The group is now flying home from the tourist region they went to. I would feel sorry for the rest of he occupants of the passenger aircraft, even allowing for masking, except they all holidayed en mass during a lightning quick exponential pandemic and probably the whole planeload has Omicron anyway. Latest social media news of an unwise New Year foam party at a tavern in my suburb now lists 33 people who claim they caught COVID-19 at the foam party.

    The safest rule of thumb assumption is that if you come in even the most fleeting contact with Omicron and even if you are fully vaccinated, your chances of catching it are as near as dammit to 100%. You might as well call it 100% In turn, your chances of giving it to someone vulnerable can be estimated (via “six degrees of separation” transmission logic) simply as 100% divided by the ratio of vulnerable people to total people in the population.

    What I have heard suggests that fully asymptomatic infection may be as low as 20% or less. 80% can expect symptoms and at least 20% can expect the nastiest throat infection, bronchial infection plus serious flu-like and cold-like symptoms worse than they have ever experienced in their life. Who wants to line up for that?

    Omicron is also rapidly escaping vaccine and natural “immunity” to the more serious outcomes as just a few months pass after 2nd (and presumably eventually 3rd) vaccination. The pathogen is evolving rapidly to escape vaccine protection. The half-life of our protection is now very short, of the order of a few months at best. We can expect the next variants of concern (VOCs) to diminish this protection further. The whole situation is rapidly escalating out of control and closing in on something seriously dangerous for several millions of Australians.

    None of this was necessary. The disease was and is still eradicable. All that is needed the will to do it. The costs of eradication failure will be far higher than even the most exacting eradication process. This is precisely because this pathogen is not a just a cold or even a pandemic flu. It is far more serious than that.

  6. Ikon, your statement that:

    “Omicron is also rapidly escaping vaccine and natural “immunity” to the more serious outcomes”

    is not born out by the facts. A large percentage of people in ICU and dying are unvaccinated.

    Also, until VERY recently, the Delta variant was much more prevalent than Omicron. I can’t find data for Australia but at least in the UK, most very sick people were both unvaccinated AND had the delta variant. Deaths usually follow about 3 weeks AFTER infection, so most in ICU/dying were infected before Xmas when delta was much more prevalent. Omicron is now >95% of cases in UK.

    Average stay in hospital with Omicron is also way down (10 -> 3/4)

    We should start seeing ALL numbers fall soon.

  7. Joe Blow,

    The morbidity and mortality outcomes for a pandemic disease are a direct product of contagiousness times severity. A disease or variant that kills at half the rate but is twice as contagious kills more people up to the peak of a given pandemic wave. The end of one pandemic wave is not usually the end of long term pandemic crises which usually demonstrates multiple pandemic waves. People change behaviors as the wave gets very bad and also all of the most vulnerable are “burned up” and the rest (in this case with this pathogen) get about 3 months of significant resistance. This helps the wave burn out.

    When the wave abates people get careless again and the population also gets new vulnerable infant recruits (births) and new vulnerable medical pre-condition and aged recruits as people inevitably deteriorate and age. Plus, as foreshadowed, resistance from infection and vaccination declines.

    COVID-19 is one of those diseases (and typical of coronaviruses and bronchial route infections) to which human physiology shows relatively rapidly declining resistance. People can get infected over and over again, at about 3 month intervals minimum, with COVID-19, even despite vaccines.

    You are taking a snapshot in time without understanding the time dynamics and population behaviors of pathogens and hosts in pandemics. Nothing moves the goalposts on us like rapid mutation of a pathogen. A new pathogen in humans (a novel zoonosis) is a special kind of “beast” precisely because it and humans have not co-evolved over hundreds or thousands of years together, as we have for colds and flus, for example. This makes predicting the pathogen’s behavior and trajectory many times more difficult and means it has a far greater evolutionary landscape to explore early on, meaning it rapidly mutates into multiple surprising VOCs (variants of concern). There a big unknowns and and fat tail risks which include unlikely risks but ones which will be devastating if they occur.

    The safest and cheapest course with a novel and serious pathogen like COVID-19 was and is suppression to eradication. This is precisely because we don’t know WTF will happen if we let it run loose. Living with it massively multiplies our risks. I would say, for example, that the chance of the Omicron wave being the last serious wave faced by the globe (and by us since we are wide open to the globe) is very low. In other words, there very likely will be more and serious waves after Omicron unless we radically change our approach.

  8. Joe Blow: – “Already we are seeing the rate of increase decline fairly rapidly and will likely turn negative later this week or early next week. The data is choppy but shows a distinct decline in the rate of increase.

    NSW Hospitalisations for:
    2021 Dec 26: _ 458 (up _70 from Dec 25)
    2021 Dec 27: _ 521 (up _63 from Dec 26)
    2021 Dec 28: _ 557 (up _36 from Dec 27)
    2021 Dec 29: _ 625 (up _68 from Dec 28)
    2021 Dec 30: _ 747 (up 122 from Dec 29)
    2021 Dec 31: _ 834 (up _87 from Dec 30)
    2022 Jan 01: _ 903 (up _69 from Dec 31) up _73.6/d (7-day trailing average)
    2022 Jan 02: 1,069 (up 166 from Jan 01) up _87.3/d
    2022 Jan 03: 1,205 (up 136 from Jan 02) up _97.7/d
    2022 Jan 04: 1,349 (up 144 from Jan 03) up 113.1/d
    2022 Jan 05: 1,491 (up 142 from Jan 04) up 123.7/d
    2022 Jan 06: 1,609 (up 118 from Jan 05) up 123.1/d
    2022 Jan 07: 1,741 (up 132 from Jan 06) up 129.6/d
    2022 Jan 08: 1,796 (up _55 from Jan 07) up 127.6/d
    2022 Jan 09: 1,930 (up 134 from Jan 08) up 123.0/d
    2022 Jan 10: 2,030 (up 100 from Jan 09) up 117.9/d

    IMO, it’s still too early to tell. As hospital bed capacity increases and staff levels decline due to infection/illness then I’d suggest the death rate is likely to increase.

    Australia is different from UK.
    UK booster vax levels are 75+% of eligible people. Oz is circa 10% (per an ABC report I saw late last week).

    People last vaccinated more than 4 months ago are vulnerable to Omicron, and past infections offer no immunity against Omicron.

    Young children aged under 5 years cannot be vaccinated, and are therefore vulnerable to Omicron.
    Nearly all children aged 5-11 years are unvaccinated, and are therefore vulnerable Omicron.
    Children can get ‘long-COVID’ – 1-in-7 infected with ‘long-COVID’ in London per Great Ormond Children’s Hospital study.

    Prof Christina Pagel tweeted a thread series recently, including:

    We’ve spent 150+ years trying (mostly successfully) to suppress disease. In Europe, we have massively reduced or eliminated cholera, scarlet fever, measles, TB, polio, smallpox, whooping cough, typhoid, mumps, rubella.

    We’ve *greatly* reduced flu in the last 25 years. 4\5

    Followed by:

    We did it through mass programmes to bring clean water to people, to improve housing & working conditions, mass vaccination. We invested in enabling better health for everyone.

    And now we’re giving up cos we’re bored & it’s hard?

    Bodes ill for climate change & our future. 5\5

    Indeed! It seems to me human lifespan is set to dramatically reduce. All the hard-won medical advancements and knowledge are being squandered.

  9. Imperial Rome collapsed after a drop in ERoEI, devastating plagues, and the power of good government finally running second to the dictates of financiers. (And climate change, perhaps?)

    Ring any bells?

  10. Sorry Geoff but again your info is wildly incorrect, even the Great Ormond Children’s Hospital study doesn’t show what you purport it to. I presume you mean this study. I am not going to summarise it but here is a decent twitter summary . Pay particular attention to 7/ and 9/ in the thread. Also the thread starter:

    1/ The CLoCk study is the largest study on long covid in teens. This study *DOES NOT* show that 1 in 7 teens (14%) get long covid & neither do the ONS surveys. Here is a short summary. The real gem in the data, however, is hidden in the Supplement.

    What I really don’t get in all this, is the constant desire by many here to try to scare everyone with their dire predictions, yet I appear to be the ONLY one here that actually goes and checks these claims and almost always find that they don’t say anything like what the commenter here says they do.

    The other thing is that when I link to a paper that disputes some of the claims made here, I mentioned that it was not peer reviewed and was told that ‘I was talking rubbish’. Well, the study Geoff links to is also not peer reviewed!

  11. Re NSW hospital bed capacity. Hospital bed capacity and utilisation is not a sufficient statistic. The effective medical staff (doctors and nurses, ambulance staff, ….) capacity needs to be considered simultaneously. By effective capacity I mean staff who are not sick and not isolating and not systematically over-worked.

  12. Dom Perrottett does not have the same definition or metrics as you sensibly said Ernestine.

    “considered simultaneously” with the economy for Dom as a requisite – not to be “considered simultaneously” within a health system.

  13. KT2, I have no idea as to what mental model of ‘the economy’ the Premier of NSW is using. I am using the term ‘mental model’ for the lack of a better term to refer to what people seem to have in mind when they talk about ‘the economy’ or ‘how the economy works’.

    I was merely stating the obvious regarding Joe Blow’s comment of 10/1/22 at 4:08 pm.
    Having re-read Joe Blow’s comment, I should add that his suggestion to use private hospital beds if required misses the business economic implications of effectively requisitioning private property.

  14. Joe Blow: – “The CLoCk study is the largest study on long covid in teens. This study *DOES NOT* show that 1 in 7 teens (14%) get long covid & neither do the ONS surveys.

    You fail to mention that the CLoCk study is NOT peer reviewed. Have you actually read the CLoCk study, Joe, or just someone’s interpretive tweets about it?

    JB: – “Well, the study Geoff links to is also not peer reviewed!

    I didn’t claim it was. I’d suggest it could be very difficult finding any long-COVID study that’s peer reviewed so far, but they will come eventually. Meanwhile, COVID-19 continues to do damage – clearly a substantial number of people have been getting sick and stay sick, and some even die after the acute phase of infection. It seems to me that you, Joe, would prefer to sit back and wait for incontrovertible proof of the magnitude and effects of long-COVID before deciding to act. IMO, that’s negligent risk management.

    The consequences of many workers in the food supply chain becoming infected/sick are now apparently manifesting.

    I keep hearing ill-informed media commentators saying “Omicron is mild”. If this is “mild”, then what is severe?

  15. Joe Blow at 10/1/22, 4:08pm contains a link to a Fin Rev. article on China’s response to a recent Covid-19 outbreak. The method is familiar since Wuhan.

    I propose, if we can agree that China’s method is called “lock-down”, then we can also agree that Australia never had a lockdown.

    To be frank, some of the slogans and sloppy language used by the Premier of NSW and the PM and some journalists, is very annoying to me. The phrase “Hermit Kingdom” is another example. Since 15 December 2021, many people avoid meeting other people in shops or in aeroplanes, as reported in several articles in the still reputable press. They are, so to speak in voluntary isolation. Is Australia now ‘a Kingdom of Hermits’?

  16. I too agree with Geoff Miell’s conclusions.

    1. “Human lifespan is set to dramatically reduce.”
    2. “All the hard-won medical advancements and knowledge are being squandered.”

    On point 1, the study linked to below is now a year old. It was based on the loss of more than 336,000 lives to COVID-19 in the United States in 2020. According to Worldometer, the USA has now lost 859,942 lives to COVID-19. These loss counts are almost certainly under-counts.

    “The researchers project that, due to the pandemic deaths last year, life expectancy at birth for Americans will shorten by 1.13 years to 77.48 years, according to their study published Thursday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

    That is the largest single-year decline in life expectancy in at least 40 years and is the lowest life expectancy estimated since 2003.” – USC, Leonard Davis, School of Gerontology.

    On point 2, hard-won medical advancements and knowledge are indeed being squandered. The world failed to use known pandemic control measures outside the use of vaccines.These measures could have eliminated spread to many countries and even to continents. The world failed to get enough vaccines to the third world quickly enough. This has meant after the spread by failure to use cordons sanitaire (a method known and used for hundreds of years) that the virus had a vastly bigger infected population to mutate in, producing more variants of concern. This IS the failure to use known methods of pandemic disease control properly.

    Despite all our medical technologies and data gathering and manipulating technologies being much better we have utilized them improperly and/or failed to utilize them at all. There has to be a deep and indeed systemic reason for this. In fact, we need look no further than neoliberalism, market fundamentalism, selfish individualism and the failure to use the capacities of the democratic state.

  17. After I deduced some time ago (more correctly I used induction) that the evolution of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in humans was almost certainly developing into a punctuated equilibrium evolutionary event, I found no immediate evidence that anyone else was considering this hypothesis. Finally, I have found signs (via Geoff Miell’s link) that it IS being considered in this manner and what’s more the empirical evidence has been found of one possible “fingerprint” of this type of evolution in the evolutionary tree.

    I hope this link works to take people to the information in question and the use of the term “punctuated evolution” as a shorthand for “punctuated equilibrium evolution”.

    What is the significance of the fact that we are seeing punctuated equilibrium evolution of the SARS-CoV-2 virus? In my hypothesis (by induction) I predicted that it meant our human health and economic equilibria possibly stood in grave danger of being seriously” punctuated ” or disrupted by this evolutionary event and evolution (of the pathogen) would essentially “run faster” than standard evolution. And I predicted that this disease in pandemic mode would not behave like other pandemic diseases (like flu) which have already co-evolved with humans over (likely) thousands of years. The key point is that SARS-CoV-2 and humans do not have a history of co-evolution behind them so the fact that they have come together in pathogen – “prey” competition for the first time will lead to a highly disruptive event with impossible-to-predict chaotic outcomes other than the general prediction that the outcomes are likely to be very bad.

    While the scientists have to use more circumspect language than I do, they are saying basically the same thing as I am without being as overtly “alarmist” about outcomes as I am. Of course, I don’t think I am an alarmist, just an “imaginative realist” who can see a real sh*t-storm coming.

    The scientist Moritz Gerstung actually introduces the term “punctuated evolution” ;

    “Some thoughts about the punctuated evolution of variants of concern including B.1.1.529 in Southern Africa. A shared characteristic of all known VOCs (of COVID-19) is that they appeared suddenly with a large number of mutations, many more than the incremental changes we see normally.”

    Moritz Gerstung and Adam Kucharski then “debate” what all this might mean. I will give a snippet only.

    Gerstung notes the relatively large number of variants with large numbers of mutations coming out of South Africa and also notes the possibility of evolution continuing in multiple cycles within patients with chronic HIV and chronic SARS-CoV-2. (Means we should send the third world lots of COVID-19 vaccines and lots of HIV and other treatments to save ourselves as well as them. Enlightened self interest anyone?)

    “Regardless of exact origins, this pattern means we shouldn’t assume next variant of interest/concern will emerge from current circulating Omicron viruses – like other variants, it may well have already evolved (or be evolving) somewhere, from a much older ancestor lineage.” – Adam Kucharski.

    “I think seasonal coronaviruses and influenza are a sensible ‘prior’ to bear in mind for what long-term dynamics of antigenic turnover of SARS-CoV-2 could look like. But we also need to remember this process of sequential turnover isn’t what’s happened so far… ” – Adam Kucharski.

    The whole thread(s) are of great interest. I believe they bear out what I have said, namely that Omicron is highly unlikely to be the last wave we face and also that is it highly unlikely that further waves will be a simple progression to more and more mild variants. The bottom line is when we unleash and indeed deliberately facilitate, by rank idiocy, a punctuated equilibrium evolutionary event we cannot predict precisely what is going to happen except that almost for certain it is going to bad compared to “normal”. Because most (white?) Westerners up to age 80 or so have lived in a safe, predictable and indeed permissive and forgiving cocoon all their lives they cannot conceive a punctuation to their comfortable equilibrium. They need to start thinking harder. It’s complacency that the terrible can’t happen which enables it to stalk right up to our doors.

    Adam Kucharski has called Eric Feigl-Ding an alarmist but Kucharski’s measured statements nonetheless do not preclude that the “sequential turnover” that we expect from pathogens co-evolved with humans could take years if not decades to establish as a pattern. Meanwhile, what punctuated equilibrium evolutionary chaos might we face?

  18. Ernestine Gross says JANUARY 10, 2022 AT 9:42 PM
    …I was merely stating the obvious regarding Joe Blow’s comment of 10/1/22 at 4:08 pm.
    Having re-read Joe Blow’s comment, I should add that his suggestion to use private hospital beds if required misses the business economic implications of effectively requisitioning private property.

    It also misses a lasting mine field like crippling fix in the privileged cartel interests of the medical mafia that Pig Iron Bob slipped into the dopey Constitution (my emphasis below) after a referendum vote but not in the question put to the people:

    “Part V – Powers of the Parliament

    51. Legislative powers of the Parliament
    The Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power(^)12 to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to:

    (xxiiiA) (^)13 the provision of maternity allowances, widows’ pensions, child endowment, unemployment, pharmaceutical, sickness and hospital benefits, medical and dental services (but not so as to authorize any form of civil conscription), benefits to students and family allowances;

    (fn)13. Section 51 (xxiiiA) – This section was inserted by the Constitution Alteration (Social Services) 1946.”


    Further to my post above, January 11, 2022 at 10:31 am, and related to the discoveries by Adam Kucharski and Moritz Gerstung re the phylogeny of SARS2-Cov-2 evolution mentioned there, it is worth considering mechanisms by which Omicron could be superseded by a new variant. What follows below are speculations which seem possible given the current fact that SARS2-Cov-2 is showing characteristics of punctuated equilibrium evolution whereby new dominant variants show multiple mutations and appear to have evolved from much earlier in the genetic tree than the last main variant and therefore have not arisen by the incremental accrual of mutations in a continuous main line “ladder” of accruing mutations.

    This suggests the next main variant of concern need not be directly descended from Omicron. But how in that case, could it out-compete Omicron given Omicron’s phenomenal contagiousness? It scarcely seems conceivable that a variant could evolve to be more contagious than Omicron which might represent something near the upper limit of contagiousness. However, there are mechanisms. The Omicron wave will burn out fairly rapidly, leaving considerable Omicron resistance behind even if for just six months. The next variant does not have to be more contagious than Omicron. It just needs to be more contagious than Omicron is to Omicron resistance. Couple that with extra vaccine escape compared to Omicron and then we would see another variant of concern wave after Omicron.

    Disclaimer: I have no qualifications in virology or epidemiology. Yet, the above seems possible given the facts now known and given that SARS2-Cov-2 has huge populations of unvaccinated and vaccinated people to continue to evolve in with the concomitant “islanding” effects of necessary evolution events occurring in a population enclaves or even in a chronically sick individuals with multiple strains where mutation and possibly even recombination enter the picture.

    This punctuated equilibrium evolution event is not a simple linear event: it accelerates and branches at phenomenal rates. And it branches like a complex move-tree set of a great bunch of chess-boards with alternative moves at every step, not just like one chessboard move tree.The evolution rate is sped up by the two species involved being new to each other and by the sheer scale of the event itself: 8 billion humans (more macro-scale animals than the planet has even seen before in evolutionary history) ultimately available for infection and 1,000,000,000 to 100,000,000,000 virions in each person during peak infection. That’s a massive number of reproduction events. Quantity develops its own kind of new emergent qualities. We now know that bush-fires become vastly different in behavior and effects when they become super-fires (fire thundestorms). We may well find that pandemics become vastly different when they become super-pandemics.

  20. Is the ‘lunacy’ accelerating?

    According to the smh, 11/1/22, the Premier of NSW, Dominic Perrottet, announced the reporting of positive RATs results will be made mandatory.
    The same Premier had announced around the time when the PCR testing system broke down in NSW due to demand for tests far exceeded capacity that he has ordered RATs and they will arrive in the next few weeks. Reports of unavailability of these tests continue as do complaints about the costs.
    The same Premier also announced that soon NSW will have a reporting infrastructure in place.

    As per the smh link below:
    Despite the ‘suppression’ of confirmed case numbers via the above mentioned method, the recorded cases during the past 7 days amount to almost 50% of all cases recorded in NSW since the beginning of the pandemic.

    Hospitalisations increased by about 50% during the past 7 days from rom 1491 to 2186..

    The recorded PCR positive cases are acknowledged by the CHO of NSW as vastly understating the actual numbers.

    PCR case numbers increased by about 25% from 10/1/22 to 11/1/22.

    The federal system in Australia provides an opportunity for comparisons:

    Victoria and Queensland have their RATs distribution and recording infrastructure operating. NSW does not.
    Western Australia does not have a lock down and there are close to zero cases.

  21. It’s Kafka in Brisbane too. For one, in Qld it is virtually impossible to obtain a RAT. The rules state that someone isolating cannot leave home to buy the RAT they need to end their isolation! Yet they may travel by an approved manner to a “point of care” (medical facility) to get a RAT, but GPs are advising they don’t want those people visiting, and in any case thjy have neither RATs nor PCRs!

  22. Prof Christina Pagel tweeted a brief thread on “kids, Omicron, hospitalisations”:

    1. The US is seeing record admissions among children with COVID;
    2. US largest increase in COVID admissions by age for children, particularly under 12s – 60% admissions for COVID & remainder with COVID;
    3. Omicron cases for adults causes fewer hopitalisations, but opposite true for children;

    In England we’ve had more admissions in <18s with Covid in *first 9 days of this year* than the whole of the first wave. Most increase in <5s.

    Under 12s are unvaxxed.

    There might well be non-worrying explanation, but we too need to urgently understand what is happening. 4/4

    And some commentators here in Australia are calling for kids to go back to school at the end of Jan 2022. IMO, that’s condemning many kids to suffering.

  23. Almost every decision being taken now by the Federal and Eastern State governments is bad. They are completely panicked and have no idea what they are doing. Most of these doctrinaire decisions will worsen the pandemic. Forcing children back to school from day one (except in Qld,) while the Omicron wave is still peaking is lunatic. Letting/forcing more possibly infectious individuals back to work is lunatic. Having no planning, no RAT tests, inadequate hospital and ambulance systems and then deliberately worsening the pandemic further is lunatic. The lunatics are definitely in charge, pushed and enabled by the corporations, the capitalists, the self-employed tradies and the small-scale business owners. However, conditions under “let it rip” are now worse than they have ever been, Opening up is a complete policy failure. More and more vulnerable persons, including vulnerable children now, will suffer.

    This study essentially predicted Omicron or something like it.

    “The higher growth rate of Delta—combined with gradual reopening and proceeding vaccination—repeated the dichotomous pattern of lineage-specific decline and growth, although now with declining Alpha (Rt  1; Fig. 5e, f). Overall, we estimate that the spread of more transmissible variants between August 2020 and early summer 2021 increased the average growth rate of circulating SARS-CoV-2 in England by a factor of 2.39 (95% CI = 2.25–2.42; Fig. 5g). Thus, previously effective interventions may prove to be insufficient to contain newly emerging and more transmissible variants.”

    “SARS-CoV-2 is likely to continue its evolutionary adaptation process to humans. To date, variants with considerably higher transmissibility have had strongest positive selection, and swept through England during the 10 months of this investigation. However, the possibility that an increasingly immune population may now select for variants with better immune escape highlights the need for continued systematic and, ideally, global genomic surveillance.”

    Note that “an increasingly immune population may now select for variants with better immune escape”. That will likely be the world’s and our position after the Omicron wave. It is perhaps unlikely that any Variant, even an Omicron Plus, can evolve higher transmissibility than Omicron. But further immune escape seems almost certain. What will drive further immune escape? Actually, there are two related factors;

    (1) Free circulation of the virus which is the worst factor; and
    (2) Leaky vaccines which do relative little to prevent free circulation.

    So, the very worst thing we can do is open up with leaky vaccines, which is exactly what we have done. Vaccines which offer resistance but little protection against infection and transmission against Omicron level variants and worse, need full containment and eradication measures to give us a chance of a good outcome. Without containment and a real and implacable eradication commitment we will be compounding the disaster.

    Free circulation of the virus and leaky vaccines will drive further immune escape. The leaky mRNA vaccines will relatively rapidly render themselves obsolete or else we will require 3 month updated boosters indefinitely. Feel like getting boosted 4 times a year for the rest of your almost certianly shorter life?

    The mRNA vaccines are the best we have for now. They need to be supplemented by an eradication program. The collapse of the fast Omicron wave to a minimum will provide the time-window chance for eradication to work in Australia. Australia will need to be locked down indefinitely at the national borders and full quarantine introduced for all arrivals. Full test, trace, isolate, lok-downs and quarantine and all full NPI measures will need to be introduced. While the undeveloped world is unprtected they are just massive variant production factories: a situation highly dangerous for them and us.

    A development of new vaccines and medicines representing another major leap forward in vaccine and medicine technologies will be needed if we are unable to eradicate globally. Let’s hope they can make these advances.Otherwise, we are in never-ending trouble, at least in our lifetimes and even in the lifetimes of the currently young. This pandemic has all the hallmarks of turning into an interminable global super-pandemic. I don’t wish this to happen. I warn about it in the hope that people will get highly motivated to support COVID-19 suppression and eradication. Humanity cannot live with this virus anymore than we could live with a new endemic-pandemic flu which broke our with new mutated VOCs every six months. To propose living with it is still lunacy.

    If people say it’s impossible to eradicate now then they have given up, capitulated and likely accepted hundreds of millions of preventable deaths and perhaps more. If eradication is not a possibility for our political economy system then we and our political economy system will be eradicated. In that case, we must change our political economy system to make eradication possible. But it seems people are so addicted to capitalism and its consumer products that they would rather die and kill the children too.

  24. What’s the current actual NSW hospital bed capacity? Recent NSW Health data suggests it must be getting close to maximum NSW public hospital bed capacity, or are other non-COVID patients getting discharged from public hospitals (or perhaps transferred to NSW private hospitals) to make way for more COVID patients?
    How many NSW doctors, nurses and other support staff are currently available to support those beds?
    We are not getting the full picture.

    Matt (@crudeoilpeak) tweeted earlier today:

    @EstherHjHan @daniellamariewh @Rabe9
    @lucy_carroll @natassiazc More attention is needed to look at public hospital bed capacity. #covidnsw 575 beds to go. But how about numbers of nurses, doctors and other staff? @BradHazzard @Dom_Perrottet
    @normanswan @CaseyBriggs

  25. Geoff, thanks for your data deiven comments.

    I cannot find information to confirm Graeme Innes claim – Can anyone find some data to back up;
    “… the third failure in my view particularly when vulnerable and low income people in Australia are dying at the rate of FOUR to ONE at the moment from Covid … “. my emphasis
    Time: 8:23 to  10:14

    I can’t find any Covid data on breakdown of socioeconomic or disadvantaged. Please.

    JQ, what is your comment on G Innes’claim? If true and verifiable, 4 to 1 disadvantaged deaths during pandemic would be exceptionally powerful in a submission.

    As the government sees pandemic. Age & gender breakdowns only.

  26. KT2,
    Thanks for drawing my attention to comments by Graeme Innes on ABC’s The Drum broadcast on Wed (Jan 12). Further along, from time interval 0:18:02, on the term “underlying health conditions” used, Innes says:

    I think it’s outrageous. It’s a code for disability or vulnerability. You know, Ben Guantlett, the Disability Discrimination Commissioner, quoted a figure the other day that 47% of Australians have some level of underlying health conditions, and um, this is why of course, the figure of people who are vulnerable dying is FOUR times that of people, um, of people who are not vulnerable. So what we’re doing is, is killing off vulnerable people, older people, people with disabilities. But they’re not just numbers, Jeremy – it’s really important to think about who they are. They’re people’s mums and dads. They’re people’s grandmas and grandpas. They are people.

    I think we/humanity cannot ignore the longer-term consequences for the more vulnerable proportion of humanity who will likely be exposed to ongoing epidemic variant waves and are at high risk of having quality of life seriously compromised with COVID-induced chronic illnesses, if not at first infection, then eventually (and inevitably) with subsequent re-infections. These people include:

    • Children aged under 5 years, who currently cannot be vaccinated;
    • Those that are unvaccinated or have not kept up-to-date with vaccinations (i.e. >4 months since last dose);
    • Those that are immuno-compromised;
    • Those that have chronic health conditions and/or pre-existing asthma;
    • Risk factors higher in women compared with men (23.6% versus 20.7%); and
    • The more mature (i.e. aged 50+ years).

    How does society protect these people, or are their lives less important and thus sacrificed to enable the rest of the healthier society to resume so-called ‘normality’? That’s the moral dilemma. Remember, we may all end up becoming a member of one or more of the categories listed above, sooner or later – IMO, essentially the “let it rip” approach means all individuals may be ‘written off’ now or in future.

    What are the longer-term risks for young children? It’s perhaps too early to tell, but from a risk management perspective, does one assume everything will be OK and risk later discovering it could ultimately be doing significant damage to many young children? Where consequences could be dire, the ‘precautionary principle’ should be adopted – children are the future of the human species, right?

    SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) can cause damage to multiple organs and numerous cell types throughout the human body, including in the oral and nasal mucosa, lungs, heart, gastrointestinal tract, liver, kidneys, spleen, brain, and arterial and venous endothelial cells. The impact of COVID-19 thus far has been unparalleled, and long term symptoms could have a further devastating effect.

  27. China has successfully contained COVID-19. The West has failed.

    “The misunderstood—and misrepresented—Zero COVID policy in China”

    Concluding remarks include:

    “The epidemic control measures that Chinese people have endured pale in comparison to the price in lives and livelihoods that Americans have paid. Since the beginning of the pandemic, for each person temporarily quarantined in China (a country with four times the population of the United States), one American has died. At the same time, the amount of time spent in lockdown in most cities in China since April 2020 has been minimal. Yet the New York Times would rather have its readership believe that a remote town on the border of Myanmar represents the norm in “Covid-Zero China,” than inform them that over one billion people, in cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, have lived for 20 months with few restrictions on daily life and have had virtually zero risk from the virus.”

    Take that in. China with 4 times the population of the USA has temporarily quarantined about the same number of people as have died in the USA from COVID-19. Which is the greater cost? 870,000 temporary quarantines or 870,000 deaths? It’s a no-brainer.

    Irrespective of the precise origins of the virus, China has coped far better than the West.

    China: Deaths per million = 73.
    USA : Deaths per million = 2,603.
    UK: Deaths per million = 2,212.
    Australia: Deaths per million = 99 and currently rocketing up from “Omicron-.let-it-rip”.

    This is shown in the economic indicators too:

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

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

    How is it possible for anyone to hold the view, in the face of these data, that “let it rip” is better than suppression of COVID-19? They would have to be ignoring absolutely all moral, scientific and economic standards and indicators.

    China has stolen a huge march over the foolish West. They have continued to progress while we have regressed. The difference amounts to a “Suppression Slingshot” or a “COVID-19 Catapult”. Those countries which have successfully suppressed the virus for part or all of the pandemic have economically and socio-medically slingshot-ed themselves ahead of the let-it-rip strategy countries. On this reading, the West is failing and will rapidly fall further and further behind China. This pandemic is the historical end of the Western supremacy and it is the result of an own goal by the West. The world has changed completely.

  28. Ikon, the deaths rocketing up are almost certainly from the tail end of the delta wave. These deaths are probably from infections at the end of last year when delta was still fairly common ( 25% ?? ). Omicron deaths are NOT skyrocketing up.

    BTW average omicron hospital stay in many other countries is down to 3 days – far different from delta. Wouldn’t surprise me if hospital cases start falling rapidly quite soon. The rate of increase in NSW fell from 14% per day down to 6% a few days ago and is probably on the threshold ( < 1 week ) of going negative as the delta wave clears out. Shorter lengths of stay in hospital for omicron will mean rapid decline in figures.

    Peak 'cases' in NSW is also likely pretty soon – may have already passed but the small number of restrictions probably means that the actual top is spread out a bit. Lack of testing makes it difficult to see but judging by the UK and elsewhere, the NSW peak should be about now. Victoria and other states a bit later.

  29. Joe Blow,

    Answer me. How is “letting it rip” better than COVID-19 suppression?

    China: 870,000 people temporarily quarantined.
    USA: 870,000 people dead.

    China: Deaths per million = 73.
    USA : Deaths per million = 2,603.

    Real GDP Growth Rate from 2020 according to Wikipedia from IMF data:
    China: +2.27%
    USA: -3.5%

    Which strategy has been better? I’d like to see Harry Clarke answer that question too.

    Also, stop trying to deflect by saying “The omicron deaths will decline soon.” That’s like a person who has mown down a line of people with a car and put them in hospital to die saying, “Oh don’t worry, they will stop dying soon.” Would that answer satisfy anybody?

    Plus, what happens after this wave? It is very unlikely that this will be the last COVID-19 wave. New variants of concern and new waves are more certain than not given the mutation behavior and pandemic wave behavior of the virus to date.

  30. Ikon, as far as I am concerned – and I am 67 – this pandemic is rapidly drawing to a close. All evidence points to that. If you insist on taking the worst case scenario for the future as the most likely, then be my guest.

    I know this will be an unpopular opinion around here, but I think Australia should remove ALL restrictions ASAP. It is almost all politics at this point. If Western Australia wants to remain the hermit kingdom, well that’s their business.

    It is WAY too early to say that China’s strategy will be successful.

  31. The virus infection numbers seem to have peaked in NSW but at a level at least twice that of John’s forecast of 25,000 (many unreported cases and many cases of asymptomatic infection). However hospital admissions are half that forecast by John at 25,000. The hospitals are under pressure but don’t seem overwhelmed. This seems to be the general story regarding Omicron – very infectious so lots get it but most don’t develop serious illnesses. A disproportionate number of those hospitalised are unvaccinated (about half) and many of those hospitalized have the Delta variant. Pfizer already have developed a vaccine that specifically targets the Omicron variant.

  32. An extra zero snuck in. Numbers hospitalised in NSW are 2500 half that of John’s forecast of 5,000.

  33. Joe Blow: – “the deaths rocketing up are almost certainly from the tail end of the delta wave. These deaths are probably from infections at the end of last year when delta was still fairly common ( 25% ?? ). Omicron deaths are NOT skyrocketing up.

    I’d suggest your use of the words “almost certainly” and “probably” without a skerrick of evidence/data to accompany your statements betray your guessing, wishful thinking and ‘hopium’.
    Evidence/data, Joe?

    And yet the ABC reports:

    On Wednesday, NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant said about “90 per cent” of all cases in the state have been infected with the Omicron variant.

    She said of the patients in ICU in NSW, about 67 per cent have the Omicron strain, with the remaining 33 per cent infected with Delta.

    JB: – “Shorter lengths of stay in hospital for omicron will mean rapid decline in figures.

    And yet today (Jan 15) NSW COVID-related hospitalisations (2,576, now more than double the ‘Delta Wave’ peak at 1,268 on 21 Sep 2021) and ICU (193) occupancies are still going up.

    Matt (@crudeoilpeak) tweeted yesterday:

    @StarofS Above shows ICUs only. I have overlaid actual hospitalization curve on model shown last week. Yes, we are below the green scenario, but trend is still upwards (dotted line). During
    @Dom_Perrottet press conference not a single journo asked to see the graphs!! @CaseyBriggs

    This is part of what you stated above on Jan 10 (bold text my emphasis):

    The problem with CrudeOilPeak is that he assumes that hospital admissions will increase at the current rate. Already we are seeing the rate of increase decline fairly rapidly and will likely turn negative later this week or early next week. The data is choppy but shows a distinct decline in the rate of increase.

    I think your accuracy at predictions so far is atrocious. 🙄

  34. Harry Clarke, Joe Blow,

    No comment on how Chinese suppression of the virus as a policy has vastly outperformed the West’s “let-it-rip” approach both in lives saved per capita and in economic performance? I’ll take silence as assent that suppression is clearly the better strategy. Unless, you are somehow going to try to argue that killing more people and wrecking your economy is a better outcome.

  35. Geoff Miell,

    So much to unpack in your comment. Hardly know where to start. That CrudeOilPeak graph is misleading – he extrapolates as a straight line instead of a curve. Why didn’t he just continue with the straight line off to the top right of the graph?

    I use official data from Covidlive. The RATE OF INCREASE in hospitalisations peaked around 12 days ago at around 14 – 18%%. This is EASILY verifiable if you have a bit of math and use a spreadsheet. Obviously the data is really choppy but the RATE OF INCREASE has fallen since then. From yesterday to today it was 1.1% and over the last few days was 2 – 6%. The RATE OF INCREASE is falling towards 0% and at that point hospitalisations will FALL.

    The same is happening with ICU and Ventilation, but lags, so RATES are higher.

    I also said delta WAS more common towards the end of last year. Not now.

    Please learn basic stats, particularly rate of change. I also stand by my comment from last Monday – we could easily see the hospitalisation peak early next week. MANY places are starting to say the same. In fact I said very early January that the peak would be in 3 weeks or less.

  36. Joe, you should be a little more careful if you are going to talk down to people. As Steven Hamilton pointed out recently on Twitter, rates of change are probably not the best way to think about this. A linearly growing function has a rate of change that converges to zero over time. The change in numbers hospitalised (first derivative of h(t)) has been roughly constant for some weeks. That suggests that simple SIR models aren’t appropriate here, perhaps because criteria for hospitalisation have been tightened to keep numbers down.

  37. To my finite shame I had to think about this statement:
    “A linearly growing function has a rate of change that converges to zero over time.”

    Its truth was non-obvious to me. I had to think of the sequence 2, 4, 6, 8 and note that the rate of change went 100%, 50%, 25%. Then an exponential example backed it up for me. If it had a constant rate of change, even say 2%, it would be an exponential. Is a brain fog day enough to excuse this? I think not.

    The simple SIR model (which I had to look up) deals with graphs where the “infected” line looks like a normal distribution J.Q. I guess is saying that the linear growth of hospitalizations is suspicious in some sense and indicative perhaps of “criteria for hospitalization (that) have been deliberately tightened” for some reason. We can speculate on the reason(s).

    I admit I use simpler models. Subtracting quality and function from people by letting a significant pathogen spread gives people less quality and function gives society less quality and function. Words, not mathematics, are my native language, clearly.

    “Hail native language, that by sinews weak
    Didst move my first endeavouring tongue to speak,” – John Milton.

    And yet as Marx observed, maths is just language too.

    1 + 1 = 2.
    One plus one equals two.

    So maths is just shorthand with precisely defined terms and tighter “grammatical” rules, right?

  38. Joe Blow: – “That CrudeOilPeak graph is misleading – he extrapolates as a straight line instead of a curve. Why didn’t he just continue with the straight line off to the top right of the graph?

    The CrudeOilPeak graph’s “Trend +125 per day” line extends out about 4 days, to about Jan 18. I’d suggest going beyond about that horizon would likely be meaningless – it becomes a guessing game.

    JB: – “The RATE OF INCREASE in hospitalisations peaked around 12 days ago at around 14 – 18%%. This is EASILY verifiable if you have a bit of math and use a spreadsheet.

    But are you using the appropriate maths tools to provide a meaningful analysis of the data? I suspect not. I think you are desperately trying to fit the data analysis to suit your pre-determined narrative.

    NSW Hospitalisations for:
    2021 Dec 26: _ 458 (up _70 from Dec 25)
    2021 Dec 27: _ 521 (up _63 from Dec 26)
    2021 Dec 28: _ 557 (up _36 from Dec 27)
    2021 Dec 29: _ 625 (up _68 from Dec 28)
    2021 Dec 30: _ 747 (up 122 from Dec 29)
    2021 Dec 31: _ 834 (up _87 from Dec 30)
    2022 Jan 01: _ 903 (up _69 from Dec 31) up _73.6/d (7-day trailing average)
    2022 Jan 02: 1,069 (up 166 from Jan 01) up _87.3/d
    2022 Jan 03: 1,205 (up 136 from Jan 02) up _97.7/d
    2022 Jan 04: 1,349 (up 144 from Jan 03) up 113.1/d
    2022 Jan 05: 1,491 (up 142 from Jan 04) up 123.7/d
    2022 Jan 06: 1,609 (up 118 from Jan 05) up 123.1/d
    2022 Jan 07: 1,741 (up 132 from Jan 06) up 129.6/d
    2022 Jan 08: 1,796 (up _55 from Jan 07) up 127.6/d
    2022 Jan 09: 1,930 (up 134 from Jan 08) up 123.0/d
    2022 Jan 10: 2,029 (up _99 from Jan 09) up 117.7/d
    2022 Jan 11: 2,190 (up 161 from Jan 10) up 120.1/d
    2022 Jan 12: 2,246 (up _56 from Jan 11) up 107.9/d
    2022 Jan 13: 2,383 (up 137 from Jan 12) up 110.6/d
    2022 Jan 14: 2,547 (up 164 from Jan 13) up 115.1/d
    2022 Jan 15: 2,576 (up _29 from Jan 14) up 111.4/d

    Since Jan 4, the 7-day trailing average for NSW hospitalisations has been mainly staying above an incremental rate of +110 per day. I think you’re imagining things that the data indicates (so far) isn’t there. 😉

    JB: – “I also stand by my comment from last Monday – we could easily see the hospitalisation peak early next week.

    Just to be clear, what’s your definition of “early next week”, Joe?

    I’d suggest we’ll see whether NSW hospitalisations peak on or before Jan 20 soon. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see NSW hospitalisations at about 3,000 by then, and still increasing. Unfortunately, these aren’t just numbers – they represent real people suffering.

    JB: – “MANY places are starting to say the same.

    What “MANY places”, and what is being said, Joe? All very vague – and uncorroborated.

    Meanwhile, Independent SAGE tweeted earlier today a roughly 2-minute video of Dr Helen Salisbury, GP and Senior Medical Education Fellow, Department of Primary Care, Oxford, on the situation as she sees it in the UK:

    “The deaths that are attributable to Covid, are not just about the people who suffer the immediate effects of the virus… it’s about all the other people who don’t get treated because there aren’t enough staff, or there are too many other people in hospital.” @HelenRSalisbury

    It seems to me the state of the NSW hospital system isn’t far behind the situation in the UK.

  39. At least in the UK, the government isn’t seeing much fallout from the “let it rip” policy for omicron. General feeling is that we dodged a blow. The hospital numbers are a real problem (and likely causing deaths because of the strain on resources) but hospitals in most places are coping, especially compared to much more severe early waves. And looks like the peak is now passed UK-wide.

    It really is a different situation to the pre-vaccine waves, and I think public sentiment has turned away from interventions.

  40. RAT test wholesles at approx $3.80. It is let the market rip” as the outcome of let the virus rip.
    (Bad pun – Rest in Peace labour)

    “With the profit share of GDP now the highest in recorded history, at nearly 30 per cent,

    business should be expected to bear the cost of pandemic-proofing workers’ jobs. A new universal sick leave entitlement is a start.

    “Insecure work has been COVID’s vector from day dot. Jobs must be re-designed to reduce transmission and improve public health. Rather than give business free rein to treat workers as disposable inputs to production, let’s legislate for permanent jobs.”…

    “Cruelty by design: Morrison’s pandemic leave payments hit workers health and incomes”

  41. The NSW Government’s Agency for Clinical Innovation publishes weekly COVID-19 monitor reports. The latest report was published on Jan 13, for data up to and including Sun, Jan 9:

    COVID-19 patients in hospital, as at 9 Jan: _ _ _ _ 2,030 (+826)
    Percentage who were unvaccinated: _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ 28.8%
    Percentage who were double vaccinated: _ _ _ _ _ _ 68.9%

    COVID-19 patients in intensive care units (ICUs), as at 9 Jan: _ 159 (+64)
    Percentage who were unvaccinated: _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ 49.1%
    Percentage who were double vaccinated: _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _50.3%
    Percentage of total occupied ICU beds with COVID-19 patients: _33.0% (+13.1%)

    Click to access 20220113-COVID-19-Monitor.pdf

    Broadcast on ABC TV NSW 7pm News last night (Jan 15), from time interval 0:11:03, the COVID-19 Pandemic Daily Update included:
    * NSW booster (3rd dose) vaccination rate at 24.2%.
    * NSW deaths: 20 total from 11 males & 9 females, with 16 vaccinated & 4 unvaccinated
    * “There are now more than two-and-a-half thousand COVID patients in NSW hospitals, and that number is expected to almost double, before the peak passes, keeping the health system under extreme pressure for weeks to come.

  42. My goodness! The figures listed above by Geoff Miell seem rather disturbing. In round numbers, 70% in hospital are 2x vaccinated and 30% are unvaccinated. That ostensibly is roughly the same proportion as 2x vaccinated (70%) and unvaccinated (30%) in our whole community down to the age of zero (birth). But then we would have to subtract the 3x vaccinated out and see what is happening to them and age adjust as well. Is Omicron escaping 2x vaccination protection enough to not reduce hospitalization as these figures would seem to suggest or do age cohort differences and 3x vax differences affect this conclusion? There seems to be some protection from 2x vaccination against landing in the ICU not that much!

    We need statistical maths experts to comment here, if they can get the necessary data to peruse. John Quiggin? Ernestine Gross? The above seems to mean 3x vax (first booster) is an absolute necessity and from figures I have seen it is a necessity from three months, not four.

    Another disturbing upcoming possibility is that relatively untested and untried Novavax will be mandated for the four month booster in Australia especially as the Australian government has purchased (pre-purchased?) a LOT of it, I believe. I would rather stick with Pfizer as it has the best tested protection to date (unless Moderna is slightly better) and the best tested safety to date.

    The biggest disturbing possibility is that COVID-19 is evolving towards complete mRNA (with amended spike protein) escape. This is unless these vaccines are updated about quarterly to six monthly for new major variants of concern. This logically means we are endlessly playing catch up and a person catching the new variant before the new booster is at significant increased risk.

    A vax-only (amended spike protein) strategy now seems likely to fail against a rapidly evolving zoonotic RNA virus which attacks via the bronchial route and has no obligate lymph system or blood circulatory system life-stage. This is a perfect description of COVID-19. The authorities are acting and spinning narratives like everything is under control. It doesn’t appear to be under control at all once we look into the deeper issues.

  43. Ben McMillan: – “At least in the UK, the government isn’t seeing much fallout from the “let it rip” policy for omicron. General feeling is that we dodged a blow.

    Perhaps for now for many people, but what about the next wave, and the one after that, and so on?

    UK palliative care doctor, Rachel Clarke, begins in her op-ed in The Guardian on Jan 15 (bold text my emphasis):

    We tell ourselves stories in order to live,” wrote the late, great Joan Didion. But what if the narratives we compulsively weave end up being the death of us? Another 335 deaths within 28 days of a diagnosis of Covid were recorded on Thursday, even as the pandemic is being dismissed as essentially over by many in the government and media. “Endemicity” is the new virological watchword of 2022, meaning – at least when touted by those opposed to Covid restrictions – the mutation of Sars-CoV-2 into something so mild and weedy it is no more threatening than a common cold.

    Yet 335 deaths are an entire jumbo jet’s worth of people, crashing from the sky above. Has it really taken less than two years to become inured to such dizzying daily casualties? Perhaps, if we are honest with ourselves, what herd immunity really means is our newfound capacity to render ourselves emotionally untouched by – immune to – mass loss of life. The departed as no more than a hum of background noise.

    And that’s just the DAILY death rate in the UK currently. What gets conveniently ignored by the politicians and many commentators are the rapidly accumulating 100,000s of ‘long-COVID’ patients.

    The Office for National Statistics estimates that around 1.2 million people in the UK (including around 77,000 children aged 2-16 and around 134,000 people between 17 and 25 years old) are experiencing self-reported Long COVID.

    Ben, do you think losing a Boeing 787-8 (max seating at 248) to -10 Dreamliner (max 336) aircraft capacity amount of people every day, day after day, to COVID-19 is acceptable, particularly when it seems most of these could be preventable?

    BM: – “And looks like the peak is now passed UK-wide.

    Is it? Until the next major variant wave, and the next… and so on, while the number of chronic ‘long-COVID’ patients grows rapidly, likely eroding the health and resilience of human societies/communities and substantially diminishing many human lifespans.

  44. I heard someone yesterday from, I think, NSW Health say that a lot (~40% ?) of their covid patients were hospitalised for social reasons. These were quite sick mostly single people without carer support at home who might, if it came to it, call an ambulance for them before the incapacitated patient deteriorated and died at home alone. This implies there are a multitude of cases who would best be in hospital for their health and comfort but are excluded and are being left to suffer in a state of substandard unsatisfactory care because there may be someone with them at a critical time with the skill at least to dial 000!

  45. Exactly, Svante. It shows how social problems compound and cost the individual and the community more down the track. Social isolation is a real problem.

    And by letting COVID-19 rip, the authorities have actually created a problem where vulnerable people may well feel they have to isolate more to stay safe in the first instance, to not get infected.

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