States circumvent SloMo’s “mass murder” virus strategy

Have a look inside the hospitals of Northen Italy.

The Saturday Paper was blunt:

Bill Bowtell is both deeply concerned and immensely frustrated.

He is concerned by the coronavirus, which is spreading in Australia at rates that put the country on a trajectory similar to Europe. And he is frustrated with the government, which has let it happen.

“Let’s cut to the chase,” he fires down the phone line, before even being asked a question. “They were warned 12 weeks ago by WHO [the World Health Organization] and others what was coming. They did not accumulate test kits. They did not accumulate the necessary emergency equipment. They did not undertake a public education campaign. They gave no money to science, no money to research, no money to the International Vaccine Institute, no money to WHO. They diligently did not do anything useful.”

Bowtell is an adjunct professor at the Kirby Institute for infection and immunity at the University of New South Wales. He was the architect of Australia’s world-leading response to the AIDS epidemic several decades ago. More recently, he worked for 15 years with the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. He knows a bit about the insidious way diseases spread.

“I am deeply scared,” he says, twice, before substituting the more moderate word “concerned”. But the examples he cites are more than concerning: they are scary.

New coronavirus cases in Spain are growing exponentially. In Denmark, infections are up tenfold in a week. In Norway, up sixfold. Italy, where the authorities acted way too late, has had almost 36,000 confirmed cases and 3000 deaths.

In contrast, Bowtell and other public health experts point to a handful of nations – China, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong – that responded early and decisively and have succeeded in flattening the curve of infections, if not stopping the spread of Covid-19 almost completely. We should have been emulating them, says Bowtell, but instead Australia’s response to the plague has been more akin to Europe and America.

Australia’s slow reaction is all the more unforgiveable because we were granted, largely due to good luck and geographic isolation, the luxury of time to watch and learn. But we were slow learners. Now, the spread of the disease is showing up deficiencies in our short-term response as well as pre-existing shortcomings in Australia’s health system.

John Hempton is prosecutorial:

I am going to give you a few stylised facts about severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 and the data.

First – no matter what you say about the Chinese data – and the Chinese data was full of lies at first – China has controlled the outbreak. Shanghai, Beijing, Chongqing are all functional mega-cities with no obvious health catastrophes.

The virus has been managed to very low infection rates in Singapore and Taiwan. The numbers (completely real) in Korea show a dramatic slowdown in infection.

Korea has not shut restaurants and the like. The place is functioning. But it has had rigorous quarantine of the infected and very widespread testing. It has complete social buy-in.

China tests your temperature when you get on a bus or a train. It tests you when you go into a classroom, it tests you when you enter a building. There is rigorous and enforced quarantine.

But life goes on – and only a few are dying.

In Singapore nobody has died (yet) though I expect a handful to do so before this over. This is sad (especially for the affected families) but it is not a mega-catastrophe.

There is a story in the Financial Times about a town in the middle of the hot-zone in Italy where they have enforced quarantine and tested everyone in the town twice. They have no cases.

The second stylized fact – mortality differs by availability of hospital beds

  1. Coronavirus provided you do not run out of hospital beds probably has a mortality of about 1 percent. In a population that is very old (such as some areas in Italy) the mortality will be higher. In a population that is very young base mortality should be lower. Also co-morbidities such as smoking matter.
  2. If you run out of ICU beds (ventilators/forced oxygen) every incremental person who needs a ventilator dies. This probably takes your mortality to two percent.
  3. Beyond that a lot of people get a pneumonia that would benefit from supplemental oxygen. If you run out of hospital beds many of these people also die. Your mortality edges higher – but the only working case we have is Iran and you can’t trust their data. That said a lot of young people require supplementary oxygen and will die. If you are 40 and you think this does not apply to you then you are wrong. Mass infection may kill you.Iran has said that 15 percent of their dead are below 40.

I will put this in an American perspective with a 70 percent strike rate by the end.

Option A: 2 million dead

Option B: 4 million dead

Option C: maybe 6 million dead.

By contrast, Singapore: a handful of dead.

China has demonstrated this virus can be controlled. The town in Italy has demonstrated it can be controlled even where it is rife.

Life goes on in Singapore. Schools are open. Restaurants are open in Korea.

The right policy is not “herd immunity” or even “flattening the curve”. The right policy is to try to eliminate as many cases as possible and to strictly control and test to keep cases to a bare minimum for maybe 18 months while a vaccine is produced.

The alternative is literally millions of people dying completely unnecessarily.

What is required is a very sharp lockdown to get Ro well below one – and put the virus into exponential decay.

When the numbers are low enough – say six weeks – you let the quarantine off – but with Asian style monitoring. Everyone has their temperature measured regularly. Quarantine is rigid and enforced. You hand your phone over if you are infected and your travel routes and your contacts are bureaucratically reconstructed (as is done in Singapore). And we get through.

And in a while the scientists save us with a vaccine.

The economic costs will be much lower. Indeed life in three months will be approximately normal.

The social costs will be much lower.

Every crisis has its underlying source. And you want to throw as much resources (and then some) close to the source. Everything else is peripheral.

The last crisis was a monetary crisis and it had a monetary solution.

This is a virus crisis and it has a virology solution.

Asian Governments are not inherently superior to ours – but they have done a much better job of it than ours. The end death toll in China (probably much higher than stated) will wind up much smaller than the Western death tolls. I do not understand our idiocy.


PS. Longtime followers of this blog will know that I have rarely publicly agreed with Bill Ackman. I do here. This minimises economic and social cost of the virus. I am not sure the stock market bounces hard with a rational policy, only that it minimises the damage.

I regard the current course of English speaking democracies (other than New Zealand) as mass murder by the political elite. I think history will regard it that way too.

Exactly. We still only have a few hundred local transmissions. We can beat this thing back and manage it at low levels if we shut down right now.

If not, it will spread over the next month then explode into Winter and force the shutdown anyway amid the mass casualty event underway in Italy.

Thankfully states have moved to shutdown while SloMo fiddles.

David Llewellyn-Smith
Latest posts by David Llewellyn-Smith (see all)


  1. The fact that the states had to act and that ScoMo keeps pushing for kids to be sent to school (without the Singapore-style checks and precautions) makes me think he and Murphy are still pushing the “herd immunity” approach. If so, he is deliberately condemning a significant number of Australians to an avoidable death.

    • If you are able to take your kids from school, please do so now. Support teachers, health care workers and your community.

      • A Brisbane GP , Dr Amy Heales at Victoria Point has been reported in the Courier Mail that they haven’t been able to test multiple patients for Covid-19 due to the strict rules or criteria on who can be tested.
        Says it is in the community and spreading.
        Her children arent going to day care, ceasing family visits etc.
        On the weekend Scomo was spruiking the testing rate, trying to make himself and his Government look good.
        Sadly for Australians its a smoke screen, they arent testing enough.
        Just a Marketing Gimic from the Marketeer in Chief.
        Hopefully once this is over there is a Royal Commission into why so many Australians had to die.

      • darklydrawlMEMBER

        Done! We told the kids on Friday night they’re were going back. We are based in Victoria so Dan pulled the plug anyway. We dropped into the school this morning to collect their stuff and say thanks to the staff and left. It’s absolutely the right thing to do. For us, for the kids, for the staff and community.

    • Testing every person that goes into a building, every person that uses public transport, is just too hard for Aussies. You’d have to train thousands of people, mobilise them, pay them, you’d need a security guard at every checkpoint because of the inevitable aggression and violence.

      It’s all too hard for a western government like Australia or the UK.

      Easier to go with the herd immunity experiment and just throw some retired doctors and student nurses at the problem.

    • Stewie GriffinMEMBER

      Can always import more stock if you lose to many of your herd to this virus – the economy MUST ensure.

      • darklydrawlMEMBER

        Good to see the spirit of EZFKA is alive and well during this crisis 🙂 ‘Profits before people’ (well duh! you can always get more people!)

    • ACT Government too has ignored SCovidMo, pulled the kids from the schools. Even Paris has militarised its street markets. While Sydney has been crowding the beaches and welcoming cruise passengers. We’re still a long way behind.

  2. I want to know if ALL members of the government including josh and Scott have their kids at school or daycare. No bs home schooling sick with a sniffle play with words they are enrolled

    Can a journalist ask this CLEARLY to them with a straight response. Also ask them why European countries and hk schools are closed at this point in time and Australia’s are open? Once again do we have better drs than os?

    I hazard a guess that this is all about uni census date next week for not just locals but internationals as well and Josh and Scott would rather have a few local kiddies get sick and try not to pass it on to nana for our education industry mega bucks not to be jeopardised

    • European countries have managed to close their schools while making provisions for the kids of key workers. It can be done. This claim that we somehow can’t do it in Australia is farcical.

      • Everything is too hard in this country. We just make it up as we go and hope for the best. Who needs to plan ahead when you have iron ore.

    • happy valleyMEMBER

      But, but – closure of schools is likely a state/territory matter, so Scotty from Marketing can lay all the blame on to them as he does with everything else that he can and if he can’t stitch them up, it just has to be federal Labor’s fault?

      • Smoko is having a bet each way. If the states slow the spread then Smoko will claim credit for it. If the economy stalls it will be the states closing things down.
        Last night’s ABC interview with the Prime Marketer showed the emperor is stark naked.

  3. We have truly the worst possible leader at this time a bs real estate marketer from the shire… just last week he was saying go to the footy!!! Go sharkies love em!

    Poppa and nana go out and spend money he said last week. The economy depends on u!! Now this week stay at home nana

    Last week Scott said DONT HOARD. Even though Dutton hoards 6 houses for him and the missus.

    Yep good hands and I hope this depression is brutal for them

  4. I’m in Paris and just completed a week of work from home with kids at home too. No idea why they are pushing to keep schools open in Oz. Everybody with kids knows they catch and spread everything!

  5. That is a shocking video.

    We must all remember that last week Scumo said he was going to the footy.

    ‘mass murder by the political elite’

    spot on.

    • A revised approach, slightly better than a borderline genocidal negligence toward his fellow Australians would be nice.

      • Yeah, but it has worked for him so well his entire life, why change? Forgiven by Jesus and on a parliamentary super package with perks for life. Blessed are the cheesemakers you see…(NB. This includes people from marketing who work on cheesy advertisements that are brilliant, brilliant….just brilliant).

        The mass murder is in the policy globalising disease transmission through mass everything that has brought us the funeral service economy.

        • happy valleyMEMBER


          And talking of funerals, the industry has already said they can’t cope with any more business – so, Scotty from Marketing’s solution will be or is that industry, another state/territory matter that he can hospital pass (no pun intended) to them (or federal Labor when there is no one else to blame)?

  6. Make masks compulsory again:

    January 31, 1919

    A week after the outbreak of pneumonic influenza (AKA Spanish flu) was officially proclaimed in NSW, the wearing of masks became compulsory.

    A proclamation was issued by the State Government yesterday directing that from Monday next all persons within the county of Cumberland shall, “while in any public street, vehicle, conveyance, public place, or public building, wear upon the face, so as to completely cover the mouth and nose, a suitable mask or covering of gauze or other suitable material sufficient to exclude the germs of pneumonic-influenza.”

    • Totes BeWokeMEMBER

      The army stepping in is the obvious choice.

      6 months down the track after we’ve lost half a million Australians to this virus, we can start from scratch. LNP and Labor politicians can remain in jail with all their families wealth and that of their media mates shifted into consolidated revenue.

  7. Unfortunately we already have huge numbers of locally infected, we just don’t know it yet.
    Vo Euganeo had 3% of their population infected when they locked down and tested everyone. That was one month ago. How many weeks behind Italy are we? Maybe 3 tops.
    Problem is our government mandated mega cities have no chance of testing everyone like a small town, or locking it down as well as they did. We haven’t even closed our schools yet.
    Australia is the bartender.
    “No man, the bartender got it worse than anybody.”

  8. Totes BeWokeMEMBER

    This idiot still doesn’t understand the gravity of the situation.

    He needs to be removed as PM.

    • Come now, he clearly understands the situation fully.

      After changing policy four times in a week he still said that todays policy will be reviewed in a month at his press conference last night. Clearly he’s fully across the reality.

  9. “Diligently did not do anything useful.” Oh, how well that describes the behaviour promoted and nurtured by the public service in the last 20 years.

  10. few good things:
    our labs did 100k tests so far with 0.1% being positive
    last week we did 40k tests
    the only thing we have to improve is quarantine for those tested positive

  11. PalimpsestMEMBER

    Testing. Until yesterday in the ACT 2 out of every three were being turned away. To be tested one had to be either returned from OS, or close to someone from OS, or in contact with a known person that was confirmed tested positive. A person with community transmitted N-Cov-2 does not meet any of those criteria. Therefore we have NO idea of the rate of transmission in the community even amongst those people with enough symptoms to want to be tested. The Vo (Italy) example reinforced that the biggest issue is transmission by asymptomatic carriers that are not even aware they have it. I suspect we’re a bit behind the curve.

  12. Totes BeWokeMEMBER

    Watch last night’s 60 minutes to see how our smug PM still doesn’t understand what he’s done.

    It was actually great viewing. Except they didn’t at any time mention exponential growth, and where this is heading in a couple of short weeks and months.

    The CMO saying “young people aren’t affected but we need your help” is completely erroneous. Young people are dying all over the world.

    In a month in Australia when 180k need ICU assistance and we only have 2k availability Australia’s going to work out what LNP, Labor and media have done to us.

    Australia will never be the same again. Hopefully all 3 (LNP, Labor and media) don’t survive the year out.

      • Totes BeWokeMEMBER

        Let’s make sure there is none of today’s MSM when we come out the other end, and that all the $700k media mouth pieces who each sold their country out are living on the streets.

  13. Totes BeWokeMEMBER

    Has anyone found confirmation Morrison’s kids are not at school and have been shifted to Canberra?

    Why didn’t 60 minutes ask him while on the subject of school closures?

    • an ABC journo twitted few days ago that one kid was unwell so Scumo decided not to send both to school. We might have Crying wolf here so even if he tells the truth no one believes him. He needs to go in order for the Gov to re-establish confidence.

        • What set of circumstances might lead to him losing the PM role?

          Party room vote – can’t see this happening
          What other mechanism?

          • He probably has already. Didn’t look all that good at press conference yesterday but i guess it may be stress related if he’s finally worked out the $h1tst0rm about to be unleashed.
            It would also explain his kids out of school due to following medical advice as has been reported.

  14. a mate who did not feel well for few days was told can’t be tested because he did not have fever and did not travel OS. He had rest of the symptoms.
    Drank 1/2L Rakija in 1 day as treatment.. lol.

  15. Ronin8317MEMBER

    So the ‘lockdown’ is not a ‘lockdown’ after all. By going half-arse, the hospitality industry is being destroyed for nothing.

    • I think by Friday will be 100%. Trying not to make people panic so States will implement it gradually even though it is too late now as the incoherent messages that 1d1ot in Canberra was sending to the Nation made everyone panic anyway. He got exposed as fraud again as he wasn’t sending his kids to school but telling rest of the Nation to do so.

      • darklydrawlMEMBER

        Can you believe that it was only a week ago that idi0t was smirking on national TV whilst encouraging us all to go shopping, out to dinner and then to the footy? “Calm down and live our lives normally” Halfwit! Why he hasn’t been fired is beyond me.

        • hence why no one is listening to him. Without new PM things will get out of control. Problem is LBS and NATs are full of lunatics and there is literary now sane person to take over.

  16. Look at the numbers in Ecuador and there is decent infection growth. I repeat this thing is something different and not a winter virus. Ecuador on the equator where is hot hunid and summer all year round!

  17. Heard from a reliable source this morning (med specialist) Box Hill hospital is already full with suspected cases.

  18. DingwallMEMBER

    They better start getting their sh!t together in Queensland. The missus noted the local Italian restaurant/cafe with the usual mix of retirees and women who look like they have just dropped the kids to school. Tables not spread ….. just the usual as though “there are no issues here mate”

  19. mikef179MEMBER

    But isn’t this just typical of the average Australian? The boss at my company and the main directors are just like “it’s all a big beatup”. Still! And still keeping people working in the office! I started working from home last week, but I’m the only one and I did it without asking permission. Swear to god when this is all over I’m looking for another job, I’m so disgusted with the attitude.

    But then I see Aussies congregating everywhere on the weekend. Aussies deserve this really. Yes, there will be a lot of collateral damage, but honestly, I can protect myself, all of those who are intelligent should be mostly in isolation at this point, and the rest of Australia can burn and out of the ashes a stronger, more sane country can emerge. Scorched Earth policy is the way to go in my opinion, even though ScoMo is obviously not thinking it will end up that way. But then, does ScoMo think at all?

    Just batten down the hatches guys. The country isn’t worth saving.

    • Same here. Our entire office could very easily WFH but it won’t happen until it becomes ‘official’ gov policy. Crazy!

      • That is the situation I am in too. I have sent a series of emails stating the risk with no response. Failure to act responsibly.

    • Blame #scottyfromMassMurder
      Saying you MUST send your kids to school is sending a very clear message that it’s nothing to worry about and huge gatherings of 1500 people is really just fine.
      And somehow they are surprised the population isn’t taking it seriously when the leadership clearly isn’t.

  20. Via a doctor keeping an eye on things like all the others … there are probably lots of similar things but petrol pumps are juicy little virus havens so you should either glove up or have hand sanitiser in the car…………

    • just dribble a little fuel on your hands:)
      That will kill anything.

      I’m only partly joking. Cuts while working on cars seem to never get infected, presumably because that stuff is even more toxic than alcohol for bugs.Although bare skin exposure to solvents probably has it’s own issues.