The wailing and gnashing of teeth that you can currently hear in your community isn’t a product of the sporting results last weekend or the sudden correction of housing prices. Rather it is the anti-vaxxers and their fellow travellers living the experience they feared – namely those who are vaccinated against COVID-19 don’t drop dead a week or so after the injection, they aren’t suddenly 5G transmitters, their wi-fi at home is no better than it was and there isn’t a sudden increase in the number of mindless automatons roaming the world randomly yelling ‘exterminate’. Apart from some usually manageable side effects (using the 2021 version of a ‘cuppa tea, Bex and a good lie down’), pretty much everyone is quite well and capable of continuing with their daily lives. The few who do have blood clots are well treated in the Australian health care system and with (sadly) two possible exceptions to date, have gone home to go on with their lives.
Essentially there are two ways out of a pandemic. Either everyone dies or there is the development of a ‘herd immunity’. Sweden initially chose to naturally develop herd immunity showing us all the strategy was a complete and tragic failure. From a population of around 10 million people, they have recorded 14,451 deaths to the end of May 2021, were forced to introduce restrictions and have vaccinated a far larger proportion of their population than achieved by the ‘world leading’ Australian response. Similar evidence comes from Bolsonaro’s Brazil, Johnson’s UK and Trump’s USA where the ‘business as usual’ attitude ultimately and sadly cost people’s lives. A vaccine creates ‘herd immunity’ provided sufficient people are vaccinated.
Prime Minister Morrison, even while castigating the Premiers of Western Australia and Queensland for closing borders to those from other states introduced severe restrictions on Australian’s leaving and attempting to re-enter the country. As pointed out in the The Australian Frequent Flyer Gazette
Among its peers in the Western world, Australia is unique in banning its residents from leaving the country.
New Zealand, which has adopted a very similar strategy to Australia in dealing with COVID-19, has not banned its citizens from travelling overseas. It just strongly discourages it.
Although it too discourages non-essential travel, Canada does not ban people from exiting the country either. Neither does Singapore, although the Singaporean government won’t cover the medical expenses of nationals who return home with COVID-19.
For a few months earlier this year, the UK government did impose a ban on non-essential travel out of the UK. But anyone with an urgent reason to travel simply had to fill out a form. This restriction was removed earlier this month.
Clearly quarantining works for a period, but there is a cost to it. If you are only allowing a certain number of people into a ‘sterile’ area once certain pre-conditions are met, you need to have sufficient purpose-built space for the expected demand. Clearly, Australia doesn’t. With multiple cases of variants of the COVID-19 virus ‘escaping’ from quarantine in hotels in Australia’s largest cities, the current process isn’t good enough. While hotels are probably a reasonable stop gap as their usual business has been decimated, they are not designed for the purpose of keeping people, their potential illnesses and possible avenues of cross-infection apart forever.
For most of the 20th century, the Federal Government owned and managed quarantine facilities in most states. As they were built in the age of sea travel, most were near ports and as the land became valuable, they were sold off. The quarantine centre at Howard Springs just outside Darwin, apparently the only purpose-built current-day facility in the country has reportedly not let the virus into the community. Morrison has recently, and very reluctantly, agreed to a new quarantine centre in Victoria somewhere near the international standard airport and the construction of a centre in Queensland near Toowoomba should also be progressed. Toowoomba’s Wellcamp Airport is an international standard airport that routinely accepts and dispatches 747 and 777 freight aircraft owned by a number of foreign airlines. Toowoomba is also less than 2 hours from Brisbane by road. The NSW State Government is also asking for a specifically designed and built quarantine facility.
However, we can’t welcome everyone to Australia for the next 20 years by bunging them into quarantine for 2 weeks at a small number of quarantine centres. Despite initial vaccine nationalism and political skullduggery, it now seems that there is an increasing understanding that if the world isn’t protected against COVID19, none of us are. The US Government has announced it will be donating 500million COVID19 vaccine doses as well as the billions in funding that it has already given to the UN’s COVAX initiative. Other G7countries are also playing their part to ensure there is a billion donated COVID-19 vaccine doses available for those countries that can’t afford to vaccinate everyone.
Despite muttering that ‘it’s not a race’, primarily because it shows up Morrison’s lack of action in comparison to his ‘world class response’ promises, vaccinating all those who can be vaccinated is a race. The race that will allow those that want to visit dear Aunt Doris in Dalton-in-Furness (UK) for her 95th birthday; pursue business opportunities with a firm in Talent, OR (USA); introduce the kids to their grandparents in Hue (Vietnam) or even see Niagara Falls in Canada the ghost of a chance to do so. Businesses across Australia will certainly be better off if they are not disposing of perishable stock in trade on a regular basis because of yet another lockdown. Who knows, those that routinely read The Australian Frequent Flyer Gazette may get their kicks by sitting on a plane for 13 hours to Los Angeles again, if that’s how they enjoy themselves!
And it can’t be just a race in one country, it has to be world-wide. Those countries that can afford to do so should be vaccinating their population as quickly as possible. Australia isn’t. The vaccination allocation and booking system is confusing, duplicated and unfathomable to those that really do have other things to do with their lives. There is no transparency on the number of vaccine doses Australia has, where they are and how they are being used. The best way of engendering confidence in the capability of a organisation to deliver a required service is for the organisation to be open and transparent on the process and delivery. We are doing somewhat better in donating funding to COVAX and assisting some countries in the South West Pacific that don’t have the financial means to ensure that their populations are vaccinated.
While some have good and valid reasons, such as allergies to one of the vaccine components to consider in regard to this or any other vaccine, the majority of us have nothing to fear except fear or irrationality itself. Jane Gilmour produced a lot of statistics in The New Daily that proved there is more risk in using a battery drill or driving to the local green box hardware store next weekend than getting a blood clot from the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.
So, while this website doesn’t profess to offer medical advice – do yourself (and the rest of us) a favour as soon as you can – just get the jab(s).
What do you think?
This article was originally published on The Political Sword
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