Tuesday, October 19, 2021
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Australia, the world’s worst at coping with Covid

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ALL the Covid hysteria around most of the democratic world, and especially in Britain, New York State, Canada and here in Australia, is driven by two main things. The first problem is that many people haven’t got a clue about what the relative risks are. Ask them what they think their chances of dying would be should they catch Covid and most get this massively wrong – a good few get the odds wrong by two orders of magnitude (answering 30 per cent when at most it’s about 0.3 per cent). And we’re talking about one’s chances of dying before being vaccinated. 

Government propaganda – there is no other way to describe it than fear porn propaganda – has tried to scare people senseless and hence to distort their relative risk assessments. That has been a clear and unmistakable goal, including being a core aim of all the daily press conferences with the breathless recitation of cases (cases, I say!) by third-rate politicians without an ounce of concern for freedom-related issues and by over-promoted public health types. And for once government seems to have got something right because its Covid scaremongering has been very successful. At any rate, that ignorance of the actual dangers of Covid is problem number one.

The second problem has been all those models relied on by the supine political class. It started with the Ferguson modelling coming out of Imperial College in London and basically spread from there. No one in the press corps seems to care that Professor Ferguson has had an unbroken track record of massively wrong predictions. In 2002 his models predicted 50,000 people would die from exposure to BSE (mad cow disease). In the event there were 177 deaths. In 2005 he predicted that up to 150million could be killed by bird flu. By 2009 282 had died of it. Before ‘Freedom Day’ in July, when Boris Johnson finally summoned up a backbone and ignored the public health class of fearmongers, Ferguson and a small army of supposed experts signed a letter predicting carnage if Johnson went ahead. All their ‘this is a murderous, irresponsible opening up’ predictions proved woefully wrong. Interviewed later about being off on this prognostication by such a huge margin, Ferguson replied along the lines that it doesn’t bother him being wrong as long as he was wrong in the right direction. Let that sink in for a moment. For him, and seemingly the vast majority of the modelling caste, the right direction is the one that massively overstates the future bad outcomes. You can keep your job, no matter how off you are, as long as you’re wrong in the over-stated direction. Under-predict by even one death, though, and the fear is some pusillanimous politician will give you the chop. (After observing our cowardly politicians, I would say that fear is very well-founded.)

So now turn to Sweden. It has a population of just under 10.5million. It never locked down. No small businesses were forced to close and so bankrupted (and obversely, no big businesses were thereby incredibly enriched and allowed to have bumper profits under the sort of crony capitalism that lockdowns deliver). Schools never closed. People were trusted to be sensible. Oh, wait, Sweden may have put a limit of 500 people at big events for a while. That was it. According to the most recent data I can find Sweden has had about 1.14million Covid cases and 14,753 Covid deaths (a sizeable chunk of those happening early on in aged care, for which the overseeing epidemiologist, and a hero of mine, Professor Anders Tegnell, quickly admitted the country’s mistakes). Since May this year Sweden has had one of the lowest rates of Covid in Europe. The press no longer talks about Sweden. All the lockdownistas do not want it to do well.

Meanwhile a number of British doctors are now predicting that deaths caused by the lockdowns will end up outnumbering the saved Covid deaths by 10 or 20 to 1. (Of course different politicians will be in office then, right?) And this in a world where the median age of Covid deaths is higher than the country’s life expectancy for men and for women. It’s a world where (according to the latest Stanford study) the survival rate for the unvaccinated doesn’t drop below 99.7 per cent until you get to the over-70s. Honest question: in a world with that sort of risk of dying from Covid, if you are under 70 why would you care in the slightest if someone else chooses not to get vaccinated? You started with those great odds, improved them by getting vaccinated yourself, and are prepared to drive a car every day (more risky than Covid over a year). Give anyone under 75 a choice of whether to get Covid or cancer, heart disease or diabetes and you’re an idiot if you don’t pick Covid. Did I mention that a recent Israeli study showed those who got Covid and recovered had much, much better protection than any vaccine could deliver, up to 27 times better?

The whole vaccine passport mandate position (full disclosure, to have some hope of one day seeing my kids who live overseas I’m double jabbed) is premised on people having no clue at all of their relative risks. Risk morons, let’s call them. Then add in a dollop of ‘take the worst imaginable outcome modelling’. Throw in a media and press corps that is either stupid or longs for the reincarnation of Pravda. Stir. And you have Australia. We’re not the world’s best handlers of Covid. From early on it was plain we were on a trajectory to be the world’s worst handlers. And with every year that passes that will become ever more obvious.

This article was first published in the Australian on October 2, 2021, and is republished by kind permission.

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James Allan
James Allan is Garrick professor of law at the University of Queensland.

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