Australian state health officer: If you leave home, don't have a conversation while you're out

Next time you’re mad at Fauci, remember that we could have done worse.

Much worse, frankly.

This can’t go on, Australia:


If you’re not following the Aussies’ “zero COVID” strategy, this post from last month will catch you up on the basics. In a sense they’ve become prisoners of their own success in limiting community spread by enforcing strict social distancing for many months. Because there have been so few infections since March 2020 (fewer than 40,000 confirmed cases, if you can believe it), there’s practically no natural immunity among the population. But, for various reasons, they’ve also done a poor job at getting people vaccinated, with just 18.5 percent fully immunized right now.

The great majority of Australians are sitting ducks for Delta, in other words, not unlike Indians were when super-COVID began spreading there a few months ago. Until they can get many, many more shots into arms, they’re largely defenseless against the variant. What else can they do but keep distancing from each other while they scramble to scale up vaccination massively?

Don’t leave home and don’t even converse with others if you do. That’s the regime they’re living under now, and for the foreseeable future.

It’d be a relief, at least, if Aussies and everyone else could trust that once enough people were vaccinated there’d be herd immunity within the population to prevent further infection. But with Delta, that’s no longer true:

Giving evidence to MPs on Tuesday, Prof Sir Andrew Pollard said the fact that vaccines did not stop the spread of Covid meant reaching the threshold for overall immunity in the population was “mythical”.

“The problem with this virus is [it is] not measles. If 95% of people were vaccinated against measles, the virus cannot transmit in the population,” he told the all-party parliamentary group (APPG) on coronavirus.

“The Delta variant will still infect people who have been vaccinated. And that does mean that anyone who’s still unvaccinated at some point will meet the virus … and we don’t have anything that will [completely] stop that transmission.”


Getting everyone vaccinated would drive hospitalizations down drastically and it would certainly reduce the number of infections since people who’ve been immunized transmit the virus less often than the unvaccinated do. But because even the vaxxed can get infected now and pass the virus along, Australia’s “zero COVID” strategy is a bust. All they can do is shift to mitigation and containment measure, including continued lockdowns, while they go into overdrive to get people their shots.

And if you can believe it, there’s at least one influential expert in that country who’s standing in the way of that basic goal. The chief medical officer for Queensland, a state in northeastern Australia, still won’t recommend the AstraZeneca vaccine for people under 60 due to fears that it’ll cause blood clots, never mind that COVID itself is known to cause clotting more commonly than the AZ vaccine does. Kerry Chant, the doctor in the clip above, at least is encouraging people of all ages to get AstraZeneca’s shot ASAP in order to free her country from its lockdown nightmare. I don’t know what strategy the Queensland doctor has in mind for escaping pandemic restrictions without massive death. Her choices are (1) years of continued lockdowns while waiting to immunize everyone with non-AZ vaccines, (2) lifting restrictions and letting Delta ravage the population, (3) sucking it up and accepting that clotting cases in younger AZ recipients are rare and deaths from COVID once Delta gets going won’t be, in which case vaccinating everyone as quickly as possible is the way to go.


Seems like an easy choice.

In the U.S. we have the opposite problem from the Aussies. For some, the pandemic is over and restrictions are a thing of the past no matter what the threat from Delta might be. The Sturgis motorcycle rally that draws hundreds of thousands of people annually is happening as I write this and, as you might expect, not everyone there is vaccinated:

Jeff and Julie Johnson of Denver, Colorado, were at the rally for three days and left Sunday night with smiles on their faces. Neither one was vaccinated, but they said they were not concerned either…

Carl McCormack, 55, and his buddy Andrew Rick, 54, both of Blackhawk, S.D., a small town just outside of Rapid City, said they took two weeks vacation during the rally each year to ride and party.

“This is our time,” McCormack said.

Neither one is vaccinated, and they were not alone, a testament to the bubble—ideological, but not, as experts might hope, biological—here of those unconcerned with the pandemic.

“No one I know is vaccinated,” Rick said.

This is why the comparisons between Lollapalooza and Obama’s birthday party on the one hand and Sturgis on the other weren’t quite fair. The first two events required vaccination or a recent negative test as a condition of entry, the third didn’t. Hopefully there’s enough natural immunity among the attendees in Sturgis that the festival doesn’t turn into America’s version of the Kumbh Mela.

I’ll leave you with a pic from the Kid Rock concert held there a few days ago. I’m sure it’ll be fine.


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