Old dead the price of virus “suppression”

The Crikey linkfest tells the tale of the day:

Victoria’s aged care crisis has led to a wave of support, the Herald Sun ($) reports, with a specialist medical team alongside nurses from Victorian, NSW and South Australian hospitals being deployed to help “try to stem the deadly spread of COVID-19 in more than 80 aged-care homes”.

The crisis, as news.com.au notes, has also led to a relatively rare fracturing of mid-pandemic relations between the federal and state governments, with Premier Dan Andrews and Health Minister Greg Hunt — both of whom, it should be noted, have become visibly distressed amidst the ongoing tragedy — trading barbs over privatised facilities.

Significantly, Andrews noted that while the 769 cases have been identified across more than 80 aged care homes, just five cases were from state-owned facilities, a contrast federal Labor MP — and former nurse and ACTU president — Ged Kearney has linked to the historic lack of federal regulation of staffing levels and ratios.

On the federal side of things, Scott Morrison was reportedly frustrated with Andrews waiting until yesterday to suspend elective surgery at hospitals in order to redeploy nurses.

PS: According to The Age, the Australian Medical Association is calling for all homes to undergo urgent risk assessments, amidst claims from a senior AMA official the organisation has made repeated requests since late June for assessments to be included in the state government’s Coronavirus Plan for the Victorian Aged Care Sector.

PPS: The Australian ($)reports that just one in five aged care workers had completed the federal government’s personal protection training module by June 4, the eve of Victoria’s spike.

This sad state of affairs is the price of the virus “suppression” strategy. Once again, many years of failed state and federal policy is being exposed by the virus.

No pollie is going to admit it but a high aged body count is unavoidable unless we shift strategy to virus “elimination”.

With leadership and further fiscal boosts, VIC and NSW could do it in two to three months – just as NZ, WA, SA, TAS, QLD, NT and ACT have – without destroying the economy. Afterward, a fortress economy would be consistently stronger for longer than the convulsive lockdown and perpetual death economy we have now.

Deliberately sacrificing the aged in the hope of opening borders to boost house prices is unconscionable.

Houses and Holes
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  1. weren’t you and everybody else here pushing for “hammer and dance”?

    Seems extremely hypocritical to now criticise the government for adopting the same strategy, especially since there is no actual evidence that an elimination strategy is even feasible/possible

    Especially in such an emotive way, when you were all advocating the exact same thing not more than a month or two ago

    • Stewie Griffin

      The one chart that matters.


      The real issue is that we knew this was coming – we could have done what the Swedes did, isolate their aged care facilities, reform the manner in which they were staffed to reduce cross transmission, etc, etc. But no – the media instead went hysterical and only amplified calls for full lock down and now here we are.

      The popular narrative is imho false, we should have used the initial lock down to achieve those aged care reforms to protect our most vunerable, and then encourage mask use and simply gone about our business like Sweden.

      • How do you manage the young staff that need to work there. Isolate them from their families forever?

        • Stewie Griffin

          Obviously not – as Sweden’s declining death count shows, as it spreads through the community herd immunity is eventually achieved, and so after a time the isolation and quarantining of our aged care homes can be relaxed. By that time the freed up health care services would be better able to treat age and infirm virus victims, instead of triaging them in the corner while attending to a flood of sick younger people. This is what the Swedes have done and plan to do.

          The Govt has just sent in the Army in Vic to try and deal with the problem, with a bit of forethought it was certainly within the realms of possibilities to work out a emergency pandemic employment plan for those aged care facilities before hand…. it is all a moot point now, but is something I and many other commentators to MB had suggested as a desirable and sensible approach, that was grounded in reality.

          The initial lock down should have been used to do that planning and restructuring of the aged care homes, and for everyone else to try and get a bit fitter and lose a few pounds, which also seems to be a correlating attribute in those who end up requiring hospitalisation.

          • as it spreads through the community herd immunity is eventually achieved

            That is absolutely NOT what is happening in Sweden. They have about 6% of people with antibodies and an unknown long-term outcome. In addition, they have lockdowns in all but name. IOW they are doing most of what we are doing, but not calling it a lockdown. And with their summer outdoor weather, low public transport usage, low pop. density and smart citizenry (who mask up, socially distance, and avoid crowds) they are well placed.

          • Stewie Griffin

            The chart speaks louder than anything you’ve just said – msm hysteria vs reality.

          • Stewie Griffin

            Of course it will be nuanced – death (and any trade offs) is a very subjective topic upon which people will have a wide variety of views.

            If you go an ask a heap of progressive, emoting liberal women their feeling on the subject, as the BBC has done in that article, of course you are going to find a heap of opinions that differ and believe we should have burned the economy to the ground rather than risk shedding a single tear over a temporary spike in the death rate for those over 60.

            The fact that they are reviewing the approach and discussing their strategy is good – it shows that they are critically analysing their approach, which is what all Govts should be doing instead of allowing their narrative to be directed by a bunch of msm hysteria…. but again, there is no escaping the reality that the chart is implying.

            Reusa probably has the right idea – regular relations parties and exposure to pathogens to keep his immune system in tip-top condition.

            Anyhow, I push enough wheelbarrows on this site to avoid taking up another. I’ll leave this to DoctorX who I probably agree with about 90% of what he says on this topic, and discount the 10% that I disagree with as defensive hyperbole triggered by the constant ad hominems that come with being a disagreeable contrarian.

      • Ronin8317MEMBER

        If Sweden is your definition of ‘success’, I will hate to see what failure looks like.

        The real definition of success should be Samoa. If we close our border like them, none of the shutdown would be necessary at all.

        • Stewie Griffin

          Cool – they are also the most likely to survive and buttress the rest of society with their herd immunity.

    • Just another couple of delusional victorians who believed the old Victorian hype that Victorians know better.

    • PolarBearMEMBER

      Um…he adjusts his policy based on evidence? Yes there is “actual evidence”, he lists NZ and the Australian States and Territories where elimination has been achieved.

      • where is the evidence?

        Second waves happening all over the world right now

        Has NZ also eliminated all respiratory viruses at the same time? If you think elimination is possible, then they should have since these all spread exactly the same way

        • Does anyone have NZ seasonal flu data to hand thanks?

          We know for a fact that NSW winter flu was basically 0 until this recent conflagration. I work in a health district. 0 flu cases of recent times.

          • The question is – have they eliminated influenza in their community permanently?
            Or will it recur as soon as restrictions are lifted

            Then the question is – do we want to live like this forever

          • The flu reservoir is water birds. I’m not sure if local water birds are the normal source but considering some of them migrate they would definitely be a potential source. Its just that we don’t have domesticated ducks interacting with them and spreading it to humans unlike Asia.

          • and what about the other coronaviruses? rhinoviruses? parainfluenza? etc

            And of course covid-19 allegedly also has an animal reservoir

            I’m not saying that elimination of respiratory viruses is impossible, but it does seem extremely strange that we wouldn’t have done this years ago if it was given the morbidity and mortality associated with respiratory viral infections

            We could have saved millions of lives, and trillions of dollars in lost productivity by now

          • desmodromicMEMBER

            @Robert. Yes, waterbirds are the main reservoir for influenza but not all strains of influenza can infect humans. All 16 influenza lineages have their origin in birds in which it is a gastro-intestinal infection, mostly of low pathogenicity, and is transmitted via faeces in water. For influenza to infect humans an intermediary such as a pig is usually required. Hence, most human strains originate where people, pigs and poultry cohabitate. The only influenza strain for which there is evidence for direct infection from birds is the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic. Hence, the virus was novel to humans and the death toll high.

            While there is evidence for the presence in Australia birds of influenza strains with a northern hemisphere origin, there is no evidence for the direct passage of virus by birds while symptomatic. Moreover there are many strains of avian influenza circulating in wild bird populations in Australia, including H1, H5, H7 and H9 strains that are most prevalent in humans. Thankfully our production systems don’t provide the conditions for recombination and human infection, although the poultry industry is occasionally hit hard. As for COVID, humans travelling from overseas to Australia is the main source of influenza.

    • Nobody thought elimination was possible until the chinese showed it was. Then NZ, and Aus and a bunch of other warm countries have been successfully in all but eliminating it and going back to normal. An outbreak in winter in Melbourne’s casual migrant workforce when willingness to comply with social distancing and lockdown is a pretty big challenge mind you. I think we need stage 4, but stage three with masks should start cases dropping by next week if its enough.

  2. Wasn’t your comment yesterday that you wanted to spit and cough on every old person (boomer) you saw???!!!!
    Or are there very specific ages groups that you find more/less deserving of life?

    • PolarBearMEMBER

      That was, I thought, a very good in-a-nut-shell article on the predicament of youth. I’d be angry too if I was a 20 something without well-off parents, economically shafted since I was born, blamed for the second COVID19 wave by the same people who shafted me and who actually caused the second wave and who have simultaneously asked me to sacrifice my livelihood so they can maintain their wealth and health.

      • The 50% of the people who are introverts are loving being stuck at home on income support. Its only the indebted that are up the creek.
        All the hospo staff who lost their unstable low paid jobs are currently sitting sweet on Jobseeker. Its just the party kids and narcissistics that are being denied their prey that are struggling.

      • PolarBear, yes they do deserve to be angry about the situation they have been pace in. However, attacking people of a certain age verbally while still voting LNP doesn’t seem like the most logical action imho.
        Speaking from experience at a family gathering btw.
        And as I have said before, basic human nature is to look after youself and your own, if the millenials get the chance as they get to the age of assuming power, most of them will follow the money too!
        This means that they would keep the staus quo if they got substantial benefit from it, and f*ck their peers.

        • PolarBearMEMBER

          Yes agree that it’s human nature to look after yourself and your own, but it’s also human nature to think bigger than that, although selfishness is stronger. We shouldn’t assume that the millennials will, or encourage them to, support similar policies to older generations. I also admit that the impersonal nature of voting for a government that will govern on “your behalf”, has a horrible way of amplifying the selfishness of individual voters even when those voters don’t intend that as an outcome. Of course there are all the other problems like two big entrenched parties that many voters don’t like but their “preferences” flow to either of the two. Anyway I didn’t take the spit bottling and “#@$% off and die” literally, but as a poetic expression of anger from a generation that has been relentlessly screwed over, which will result in the screwing of our nation as they are its future.

      • The people who shafted the young people are the neoliberal politicians and their supporters, who come in all ages apart from children. Virtually every problem that young people, and a lot of older ones, have experienced can be traced back to bipartisan government policies on immigration, urban planning, housing, industrial relations, education, outsourcing, trade, taxation, retirement incomes, foreign investment, landlord and tenant relations, etc., etc. The average oldie has had zero say on any of this and doesn’t own much more than a little workingman’s cottage, if that. Younger voters outnumber the baby boomers by more than 2 to 1, so voting out the neoliberal parties and fixing their own problems is well within their grasp, even if all the baby boomers voted as a bloc.

  3. I find the constant calls for “more funding” for aged care pretty shocking, given the vast majority of it is run by ngo’s who make tons of money. Why don’t we ever question why we allow this sector to be run for profit instead of quality? Surely the “more funding” should involve getting rid of the ngo providers.

    • Ronin8317MEMBER

      The issue is the ‘Game of Mates’ where the age care providers gets to write the national guideline. To add insult to injury. there is very little consequence when you fail follow it.

      The very first step is to stop this ‘subcontracting’ madness where the NGO owner doesn’t operate the facility : everything is subcontracted to someone else.

      • Tell me the most important thing – does the NGO own the sweet sweet land under the facility?

        • Only smart investors in Oz own the land 🙂
          The land part is becoming a big issue as the Lend Leases, etc move in with aspirations to knock down the single level villas and build high rise elder coops.
          Unfortunately for LL, etc. , not all the oldies have lost their will (and knowledge/experience) to fight and be bl##dy nuisances!

        • Usually the church affiliated ones do own the land, then some. Org that my partner works for owns some primo sunny coast land waiting to build another facility

    • BL, my reading is that the major issues in old age care places are in the For Profit area. I do not think any of the Melb problem homes are NFP.

      Fortunately my elderly father transferred to a community owned NFP centre in the Victorian bush which does a very good job of managing all levels of care (touch wood).

      • Partners mum was in a country community run facility. The standard was exceptional. Alway happy healthy and clean with good communication. And it was dementia so an extra level of complexity

  4. You can’t just use NZ/WA/SA as relevant examples for elimination when they had extremely low community transmission and Vic alone has thousands (and likely many thousands more). If elimination was that easy everywhere else in the World would have done it!

    It is also getting a bit rich if Gigi on Q&A is panned for glossing over the deaths of opening up but advocates for elimination never really bother with an analysis of the huge implications of isolating from the World; and they would be huge and felt for an extremely long timeframe.

  5. We will never eliminate this virus (long term) unless we are prepared to remain entirely isolated from the rest of world’s people and freight.

    Example – A packer in a venison meatworks in North America is unknowingly affected. They transmit the virus on the the outside of the plastic wrapper and polystyrene boxes. Those high value products are being air freighted and arrive in Australia 2 days later. They are unpacked by local workers and the virus transmits to these works with compromised immune responses. They unknowingly carry the virus for up to 2 weeks and spread it throughout the community. Most make a full recovery with a few workers suffering more acute responses.

    Elimination is not a strategy unless there is a vaccine or herd immunity. Hope is also not a strategy. I would put my bets on society immunity at some level being achieved before a vaccine seeing as there has never been a fully effective vaccine developed for novel corona viruses. We want the consequences of this virus to become like the common cold…common without being overly deadly. However, some deaths will be inevitable. Nature has been playing this way for billions of years but this time we think “its different” …LOL.

    • Elimination is not a strategy unless there is a vaccine or herd immunity.

      Elimination works but requires national isolation, or ‘travel bubbles’ with other elimination nations.

      • That will only work assuming they follow the same freight quarantine guidelines. If any ships or planes are landing on their shores from infected countries then the risk will never be zero. By the time you find out about that ‘one case’ its already much greater than one.

        • Pffft. Transmission by surface viruses is almost insignificant, and can easily be fixed by putting a 24-48 hour quarantine on goods or irradiating them.

        • wind can easily get the virus to Australian shores, not only from a ship but PNG or Indonesia
          also, imagine how easy and sweet target we would become for terrorists around the world
          should I mention animals, frozen food, 98% or 99.9% efficient quarantine ?

          • LOL
            you don’t even know that food radiation doesn’t kill viruses

            also somewhere down you posted a “proof” that virus cannot be eliminated so it will stay with us forever but here you say it can be eliminated just if we wish that with all of our hearth

      • so it works in a fairy tale

        reminds me of those saying how communism is a perfect system and it works perfectly just under unrealistic conditions

          • NSW didn’t spike despite being the furthest from eliminating the virus

            elimination is irrelevant when there is a world out there full of it and ready to export to us as many as possible at no cost

          • We don’t have to open borders to infected countries. And infection via imported goods is non-existent

          • but we already have open borders – thousands of people are arriving every day

            you cannot close borders hermetically and for long period of time, not even North Korea does that

            but even if you do that, there are many ways for virus to arrive: on animals (bats flying between PNG and Australia) via imported frozen food, medical supplies, other goods, can be carried by the wind from other lands or ships, or maliciously introduced into the country by either terrorists or a foreign enemy
            simply all the measures can do is change a timeline but there is no way to prevent virus coming

          • you cannot close borders hermetically and for long period of time, not even North Korea does that

            Sigh, yes you can. And “hermetically” will include small numbers that come in and wait in quarantine until they can fully enter, so it is completely do-able.

            Your others points are nonsense.

    • Is venison seriously imported these days? We’ve got more deer than we can sustain…. sheesh

      • drsmithyMEMBER

        Fitty bucks says we export locally grown venison and import the stuff we actually consume.

  6. Ronin8317MEMBER

    QLD now have 2 cases from two young women who visited Victoria last week and went back to QLD. They didn’t self-isolate as required. Furthermore, they went out while feeling unwell for 8 days. One of them is a teacher, so a school is closed down right now.

    Self isolation is not a health policy. It’s mere wishful thinking.

    • People don’t generally care about anyone but themselves. This is common behaviour and we have to assume this outcome rather than the fanciful, self responsibility and ‘we’re all in this together’ bullsh*t!

    • The NT method of charging those who return from hotspots $2,500 a head to stay in an ex mining donga for two weeks, with court and jail for fibbing looks like a potential franchise opportunity.

      • maybe North Korean methods of killing and burning bodies should be implemented instead …

  7. The Friday night dump of nursing home patients to public hospitals was a common occurrence when I worked in the ED. Seems like Morrison demanding public elective surgery be ceased to make way for Covid patients is exactly how many Aged care providers behaviour work,


    Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been accused of bungling the response to Victoria’s COVID-19 aged care outbreak after sending in junior nurses to fight the deadly virus.

    Horrified Victorian public health officials insist they raised the alarm over the Morrison Government’s response last Wednesday when they found elderly residents at St Basil’s nursing home in Melbourne sleeping in soiled beds, covered in faeces and without medication.

    It followed the decision to stand down all staff at the COVID-19 infected nursing home, as federal officials took over and moved in to run the home, and the communication breakdown with families that followed.

    The Greek Orthodox aged care home is now being investigated after the outbreak infected 86 residents and staff, leading to multiple deaths.

    But it’s not the first time concerns have been raised over the home with a family previously complaining last year that their elderly mother was found smeared in faeces and a “therapy cat” was filmed eating the residents food.

    While the Federal Government sent in the private firm Aspen Medical last week, shocked Victorian officials told news.com.au public health workers who briefed them that night warned, “it’s a sh*tshow” and complained some of the nurses sent in by the private contractors appointed by the Morrison Government were younger, graduate nurses.

    One official claimed they had to break into a medicine cabinet after all the staff at the aged care home were stood down by the Morrison Government and ordered to isolate in the wake of the largest COVID-19 outbreak in Victorian aged care.

    • that’s real elimination path at small economic costs and human life cost likely smaller than in most of other places at the end (already much smaller than in many other places like Belgium, UK, Spain, … half of states in USA …)

      now they don’t have to open up and risk another wave

  8. No pollie is going to admit it but a high aged body count is unavoidable unless we shift strategy to virus “elimination”.

    just unbelievable

    can one imagine things being any different if we have had eliminated the virus prior to quarantine failure?

    • “If we had eliminated the virus” …. we nearly did. Lessons are being learned. Mistakes were made. Hopefully not to be repeated.

      • you are avoiding the answer: would it be any different if we did eliminated the virus prior to quarantine failure?

        no, because this started out of quarantine – i.e. imported cases so it would be irrelevant if we had 1 or 10 local cases before

  9. Expert says:

    SARS-CoV-2 is unlikely to be completely eliminated. My prediction that the virus would persist and not experience mutational drift towards a less virulent strain (which I also wrote about in March) was based on the behavior of this virus at the time. It is likely that SARS-CoV-2 will continue to circulate as a highly infectious and far worse version of a seasonal flu-like infection but without a seasonal timeline, but an escape mutant timeline.


    So no herd immunity, this will never go away, back every year slightly mutated, like the other major corona virus, the common cold. It’s as I warned, a civilization-changing event

    • Hang on…

      If you scroll up this page, you posted a comment declaring that elimination “works”

      Now you are contradicting yourself with another statement, within a few centimetres of each other

      • it’s not just about drama, he has some personal interest in lockdowns being in place for longer
        maybe … hoping for house price crash or gold price rise or something else that would benefit him/her personally

        • I really dont see how eliminating the virus or not eliminating it has different outcomes for housing market. Elimination requires to isolate from the entire world.. housing market aint surviving in that scenario where immigration is zero. Not eliminating it requires intermitent dealing with the outbreaks that does not really provide for a stable economic environment meaning persistent higher unemployment. How do the house prices grow in that case?
          Either way the path for house prices is lower from here

    • PalimpsestMEMBER

      The other problem with the herd immunity from natural infection hopium, is the way this virus seems to attack the immune system. There’s also the ‘second wave’ effect we saw in 1918. The young people that threw the flu off the first time, had serious inflammation cascades when a second wave came through and were the ones that predominated in death rate concerns. A slightly mutated COVID coming through next year (a true second wave, not a resurgent first wave) could be quite exciting. There’s also some precedent with one of the SARS vaccines that produced too strong a result and made patients worse. Not that anywhere is remotely near herd immunity levels.

      I’m also having problems with the Sweden discussion. That is a society where almost everyone wears a mask without Government compulsion. We are in a Country where even a Government mandate is flouted by Karens. It’s not comparable. Imagine trying the Swedish model in the US – oh wait … although it’s not clear what model is underway there.

      COVID particles blowing around the world? It doesn’t last long in sunshine or travel far in air. Maybe you could get it across the Vic/NSW border at Albury if you try really hard and sneeze upwards.

      Keep flying that flag of rational thought R2M. You have my sympathy.

        • I second Paliminpsest’s support of your rational approach r2m.

          You are up against it with that tag team, who clearly have a bias and a lot of time on their hands to confirm it.

          • Yep, I’m retired so I have infinite time, but these guys seem younger and barracking for no lockdown seems to be their daytime job. Makes you wonder who’s paying….

  10. so you are finally admitting it’s just another common cold

    Once again, your reading comprehension has let you down. It comes back annually, slightly mutated, and in that way a typical corona virus like the common cold. Not in any other way.

    If you scroll up this page, you posted a comment declaring that elimination “works”. Now you are contradicting yourself with another statement, within a few centimetres of each other

    I don’t see any contradiction. You could also eliminate the common cold, if you devoted enough energy to it, if it were bad enough to warrant it. So yes, elimination works, and yes, in areas where it is not eliminated, it will keep coming back, slightly mutated, ad infinitum. IOW, we MUST aim for elimination.

    hoping for house price crash or gold price rise or something else that would benefit him/her personally

    Nope, just waiting for humans to start taking science seriously. Covid is a harbinger of the climate doom coming

  11. Aussies Can't Socially Distance

    Let’s not forget that the US and Europe are in the middle of summer with everyone outside. Just wait until winter hits, people getting hit with COVID and/or the flu.

    That’s when the real fun begins.

    • Agreed. It’s hot in Sweden right now, everyone is outside in the open air, including restaurants all windows open.

      Anyone here want to bet me Sweden is going to see another big spike around Xmas?