The facts on Australia’s COVID-19 infections

As readers know, up until the beginning of this month I was a strong supporter of the Victorian Government’s hard lockdown, believing it was a necessary evil to get COVID-19 infection numbers down to manageable levels.

I even penned a detailed article on 24 August entitled “Why Victoria should extend stage 4 restrictions”, which argued that the stage 4 restrictions should be extended by two weeks to 27 September.

On Sunday afternoon, I published an article entitled “Melbourne’s eased restrictions too little too late”, which argued that the Andrews Victorian Government has been far too slow to ease restrictions given Melbourne’s low virus count, which received strong backlash from some MB commenters.

Today I want to address some of the issues raised by these commenters.

First up we have a commenter (name redacted), who is worried about my “analysis skills” for comparing Melbourne’s lockdown to Sydney, which remained open:

My response is simple.

First, Melbourne’s flow of COVID infections has fallen well below Sydney’s near the beginning of the second wave:

Second, current active cases in Victoria (136):

Are less than half what NSW’s local active cases (i.e. excluding hotel quarantine) were earlier in the second wave, which peaked at 298 on 12 August:

NSW remained open throughout, putting trust in its contact tracing system to get infection rates under control. Melbourne remains closed. Why?

The Victorian Government has had seven months to get its contact tracing system up to par. Presuming it has done its job, Melbourne should be well placed to open up rather than continuing with draconian shutdowns.

Next we have another commenter who published a series of angry comments attacking yours truly:

This person must live in a different city to me. Most people I meet are bordering on despair. Several small business owners I know (one a friend) are facing closure and may also lose their homes because they are not allowed to open.

There is no better word to describe the lockdowns in Victoria, alongside the heavy handed tactics and fines from the police, than “draconian”. Because that’s exactly what they are.

This person’s claim that you cannot compare Sydney to Melbourne, and that “it’s like comparing a BBQ with an out of control bushfire” also doesn’t pass the pub test in light of the local infection numbers presented above nor the cratering of new cases across Victoria:

Seriously, where is the “out of control bushfire” in Victoria? Why are we still locked down? Surely Victoria’s contact tracers can handle such low numbers, as they did successfully in NSW?

This reader has asked for “a little bit of balance” and “rational argument”, but where is theirs?

One final point to make for all. Macro economics is by definition a discipline of flux. If you’re looking for unchanging certainty in your grasp of the world then you might find a different lens more comfortable. Macro never sits still and as facts change so must analysis and conclusions.

I don’t usually like to critique commenters in articles. But yesterday’s attack was too much to ignore.

Unconventional Economist
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Comments

  1. Given the relentless attacks that Dan Andrews has been under the last few months I can’t imagine he would want to take any chances with reopening too early. His rusted on supporters are sticking by him. If we had another serious outbreak after reopening it is game over for him. If all goes well then in six months time, we will be lauding Dan for his strength and perseverance.
    So I don’t disagree with your analysis, but politically it makes no sense for him to take any chances at this point. He’s ridden out the worst and things will steadily improve from here.

    • Unless we vaccinate 100% of the population with a 100% effective vaccine, we are inevitably going to get COVID going through Australia. In reality we will get maybe 20% of the population vaccinated with something like a 40% effective vaccine. Those people will be the elderly and healthcare workers and everyone else voluntarily or otherwise will need to just risk it, unless we are willing to tolerate international isolation into 2023.

      • What is a 40% effective vaccine ? Does it only work in 40% of the people. Or does it only provide 40% protection per person.
        I think the Pfizer vaccine which has moved to production in the expectation of the trials being successful and getting emergency approval will be available with about 100 million doses this year. but it requires two doses per person.
        Interestingly enough i read Pfizer rejected federal funding to develop their vaccine.

        • Yes I read that 60/70% would be a great level of coverage from a vaccine but it may also ease symptoms in percentage too. Due to speed of development

          • There is more than one types of vaccine, the rushed development ones will be more focused on preventing severe illness, not necessarily infection.

            Preventing Illness
            The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is considering options for a vaccine that prevents illness.We would potentially consider an indication related to prevention of severe disease, provided available data support the benefits of vaccination,” FDA spokesman Michael Felberbaum said in response to questions. “For licensure we would not require that a vaccine protect against infection.”

            Licensed vaccines including some against whooping cough have not been demonstrated to protect against infection with the pathogen that causes the disease but have been demonstrated to protect against symptomatic disease, Felberbaum said.

            The notion of using imperfect vaccines and therapies is “fine,” Kinch said. “That’s just practicality. And we may follow those up with more-perfect. There will never be a truly perfect vaccine.”

            Bloomberg:The First Covid Vaccines May Not Prevent Covid Infection

            The FDA has already mandated the efficacy is required to be >50% (FDA will require 50% efficacy for COVID-19 vaccines. How high is that bar?), and the target elderly group are less responsive to vaccines in general.

            So putting all this together:
            * Initial vaccines will prevent severe illness, not stop infection or transmission
            * Effectiveness is likely to be far less than 100%
            * Elderly less protected by vaccine

            The initial rollout of the vaccines likely won’t be the silver bullet that most are hanging their hats on. If I am reading this correctly, we are likely to continue to see outbreaks and high deaths rates in high risk setting for the elderly (of or with COVID) – care homes, hospitals, whilst a general reduction in severe disease for the under 50 age group comorbidities.

          • There is a very real possibility that the next gen RNA/viral vector vaccines will have 80%+ efficacy. We already know they produce an immune response close to 100%. They also stimulate the TH1 t cells pathway that fights viruses. That is what better than traditional antigen vaccines that often cause an inappropriate TH2 antibacterial response. They are more similar to high efficacy attenuated virus vaccines like MMR which have 95% efficacy. Fingers crossed.

        • The vaccine wont work to innoculate people against covid, but it will work to innoculate the Govt and Media from it. They can suddenly lose interest in reporting daily case numbers, and old people can go back to dying from influenza, pneumonia, and other respiratory illnesses like they always have done. The pandemic will be over. Not because the disease is gone, but because everyone can pretend it has and move on with their lives. A fake vaccine will be as good as a real one.

          • Shades of MessinaMEMBER

            Too right, any vaccine developed will only have a placebo effect. This in turn will lead to riots as lockdown devotees try to find these placebos (“Maybe they’re in this truck !!!), leading to swarms of Killer Bees plaguing the streets.

            All the answers to today’s issues lie in the early Simpsons episodes

      • Less Woke More BlokeMEMBER

        Citation required vis a vis the minimum proportion of the population requiring vaccination to confer herd immunity.

        I understand that it is not 100%.

        • Vaccine Efficacy Needed for a COVID-19 Coronavirus Vaccine to Prevent or Stop an Epidemic as the Sole Intervention

          Results
          Simulation experiments revealed that to prevent an epidemic (reduce the peak by >99%), the vaccine efficacy has to be at least 60% when vaccination coverage is 100% (reproduction number=2.5–3.5). This vaccine efficacy threshold rises to 70% when coverage drops to 75% and up to 80% when coverage drops to 60% when reproduction number is 2.5, rising to 80% when coverage drops to 75% when the reproduction number is 3.5. To extinguish an ongoing epidemic, the vaccine efficacy has to be at least 60% when coverage is 100% and at least 80% when coverage drops to 75% to reduce the peak by 85%–86%, 61%–62%, and 32% when vaccination occurs after 5%, 15%, and 30% of the population, respectively, have already been exposed to COVID-19 coronavirus. A vaccine with an efficacy between 60% and 80% could still obviate the need for other measures under certain circumstances such as much higher, and in some cases, potentially unachievable, vaccination coverages.

          Conclusions
          This study found that the vaccine has to have an efficacy of at least 70% to prevent an epidemic and of at least 80% to largely extinguish an epidemic without any other measures (e.g., social distancing).

        • It’s proportional to the R0 of the virus. You just need to get the R0 below 1 for elimination. If the R0 is 2 the you need 50% herd immunity. If the R0 is 10 you need 90%.

    • This isn’t Russia lol. I don’t want a leader who’s strong and perseveres after he puts us into strife. I want a leader who is competent.

  2. Of all the moronic comments I’ve read on this blog over the years you choose these ones to attack? I agree I think the reopening is a little too slow but I’d prefer that to the other option. As Norman Swan said today, this is the best outcome in the world for suppressing a second wave, nowhere has gone from 700+ infections per day to single figures.

      • We need lower numbers because our contact tracing is worse! I’d argue the economic damage has already been done. So 2 more weeks can make more difference to containing the disease than it will to saving businesses. But with fed income support reducing they have to move soon. I’d like to see bankruptcy law changes to protect people’s homes in business bankruptcy and reduce the period to 2 years from 7.

    • >Of all the moronic comments I’ve read on this blog over the years you choose these ones to attack?

      Plus one. For the reason they ring true.

      A note to LVO: you would do better to take reasonable criticism on board rather than resort to publicly attempting to discredit posts that critique your judgment. As the author of three of the above four quotes, your doing so only serves to demonstrate that you can’t take criticism. You are not god and like all of us, are fallible, and an over-reliance on statistics alone to prove a point of view can, and frequently does, lead to unbalanced judgement.

      Edit: Moreover, by selectively choosing to reproduce these three posts, you fail to mention that I and others have objected to your judgment on this topic for weeks. You would have done better to acknowledge it (privately at least), learn from it, and move on.

      • That’s not fair. Whilst I hold a different view to Leith, at least he’s engaging in constructive dialogue.

        He’s attempted to explain his viewpoint in a civil manner. That itself deserves to be recognised

        • Not true. For weeks he has ignored my and others’ frustration at the bias in this particular narrative which he has consistently failed to address. He can hardly complain when the frustration boils over. As for selectively reproducing four out of five of my posts to attack in a pointed article – well, I leave a reader to judge whether this is right or justified.

      • Sorry drt15. But your comments prove it is you that cannot take criticism. I have tried to engage in constructive debate rationally explaining my position. You have resorted to personal attacks.

        You are free to engage constructively.

        • Pot/black. And self justifying bunkum.

          Your attack here is proof, but feel free to read my other comments above and below here. I have not attacked you personally – you have chosen to take it that way – I have rightly, in my and others’ opinion, criticised your judgment and commentary on this topic for weeks.

    • Norman Swan? The man who revels in his ‘go to’ position on all matters of health? Norman has a massive ego that clouds his judgement.

      He is not an expert on all matters of health, including public health.

      Time to listen to some other voices.

    • TheLambKingMEMBER

      Ha – I love the ‘de-identification’ of me. No one will know who that is 🙂

      Of all the moronic comments I’ve read on this blog over the years you choose these ones to attack?

      I don’t see it as an attack. I like the fact that Leith has taken time to respond. And when I open with “I worry about your analysis skills” I am fair game!

      My main point is around the number of unknown source. When you take out hotel cases it is about 120ish local cases with more than 10% unknown with 50 cases with no unknown sources. That is a massive difference. 15 unknown cases equals 15-45 additional people out there potentially spreading covid. Stay closed for another week and the risk of those people infecting others is VERY small. Open up today and the risk of those people spreading covid is VERY high.

      Yes, we could open now and the risk of further spread is low. But if we stay closed for another week or 2 that risks drops by orders of magnitudes.

      Yes, we could open up today – but does it actually make much difference to the economy for the difference in risk? I, and most of Melbourne (according to the polls) back the extra week (which is mostly to stop the AFL GF being a super spreading event!)

      This article (posted after my post) sums the issue nicely https://www.theage.com.au/national/sydney-versus-melbourne-what-the-experts-say-about-the-covid-numbers-comparison-20201019-p566ic.html

  3. Claude BradingMEMBER

    Your analysis and comparison with NSW numbers rests on the assumption that Victorian contact tracing is now up to NSW standards (“Presuming it has done its job…” etc).

    But given everything we continue to see, it seems unlikely. Despite all the scrutiny, it is still sub-standard. The Chadstone/Kilmore/Shepparton outbreak would have been caught by other states’ contact tracing systems (which would have notified the truckie to isolate earlier) but slipped through Victoria’s system.

    Dealing with reality and presuming that Victorian contact tracing is not up to scratch, we effectively have to get numbers lower than NSW. If it is hard for businesses to survive an extra week or two, it will be impossible for them to survive if numbers get out of control again and we have another lockdown of several months.

    It should not be that way. But it is.

    • That’s on the Victorian Government then. They’ve had seven months and loads of help from the other jurisdictions.
      With so few cases, they could post a police officer or ADF troop outside each infected person’s house to ensure they isolate. This would be far less costly than shutting down the entire economy.

      • >With so few cases, they could post a police officer or ADF troop outside each infected person’s house to ensure they isolate.

        You have taken holus bolus the point I made yesterday, which proves I am certainly aware and critical of faulty aspects of Vic contract tracing and quarantine but have not allowed it to cloud my judgement or opinion that overall and under the circumstances, we need to see this through.

        I wonder why you selectively take this point of mine as your own, but have chosen to attack and hold up to ridicule my other posts.

      • @LVO >That’s on the Victorian Government then

        Yes, and if so, all the more reason for not advocating for a swifter opening than Vic can manage.

      • ignoratio elenchiMEMBER

        And thus ensuring that we do live in a dictatorship. What you propose is martial law.

        But I digress. We now have the capability to get tested in the morning, results in the afternoon, interviewed in the evening and for close contacts to be notified overnight. That very rarely happens. In practice there are time lags and hand-offs that are missed in all steps. In July and August there were people who were never called. That happens a lot less now.

        The chadstone outbreak happened because the cleaner did not follow the rules. That happened because the language that they spoke and the language that the contact tracer spoke were different. I am loathe the blame the contact tracing here, except for the fact that they could have and should have had community support out there earlier.

        The Kilmore and Shepparton outbreaks happened because the truck driver did not physically distance and did not tell contact tracers where he had been. Again I am loathe to blame contact tracing, except for the fact that they could have had community outreach to each of the Chadstone families.

        Better to have support than law enforcement imo – support rather than force.

          • ignoratio elenchiMEMBER

            Hmm – the person not declaring the cash income because of possible repercussion from either immigration or ATO results in 30+ infections and 2 more weeks of lockdown for 5 Million people.

            There’s two parties to every trade. The person paying the cash to the cleaner is complicit.

  4. pfh007.comMEMBER

    “.. The Victorian Government has had seven months to get its contact tracing system up to par. Presuming it has done its job,..”

    Given the evidence received by the inquiry is that a safe presumption?

    The main problem is the apparent culture of secrecy and refusal of anyone to take responsibility. There are very good reasons for worrying:

    1. If there are infections they will not be detected.

    2. If they are detected they will be kept secret.

    I feel for Victorians as they seem to have no understanding that NSW hasn’t been locked down for months even though we have been running a massive hotel quarantine operation all that time. The other states are similar to NSW or better….mostly because they are not doing much quarantine.

    The real test for whether Victoria is safe and competent enough to reopen is whether they can restart the hotel quarantine program. NSW shows it can be done and Victoria MUST share the load as there are thousands of Australians desperate to get home.

    If the Victorian government is not yet competent to do quarantine, the lockdown probably needs to continue as they are clearly not yet up to standard.

    The sealed borders between Melbourne and the rest of Australia certainly need to continue as the other states have ZERO interest in being locked down as a result of Victorian infections.

    I have noticed in recent weeks that my Victorian friends are slowly realising that there is something very odd about the Victorian government performance and culture.

    Dan should spend more time on getting the job done and less time on press conferences.

    • Agree with everything you’ve said. Dan Andrews and Brett Sutton claim that Victoria’s contact tracing system is now great. They are clearly lying. Otherwise we would have opened already.

      • No wonder arguments are going around in circles. We know Dan is good at press conferences leaving little time for much else and Brett is too busy to read emails. You have shown why the gov cannot be trusted and as reasonable as your suggestions are people have lost trust and are finding it a frightening proposition to move forward.

        • Agree, except under the circumstances this does not make it reasonable or sensible to advocate for a swift reopening which could jeopardizse weeks/months of Victorians’ cooperation and pain.

  5. As a non Victorian my opinion does not matter on this issue. But the general mood over here that i see in the media and online is that no one trusts that the Victorian contact tracing system will actually work (as in a complete lack of competence and accountability in the government) combined with the sections of the Victorian population who seem to be so ignorant they cant social distance or follow the rules. The fines and overbearing police actions do seem excessive compared to our state but hey we put a woman in jail for 6 months for crossing the border without permission. She was released on appeal and fined.
    As far as the commentary articles from the forums owners here, well its their blog.
    I have been fortunate enough to be allowed to voice a dissenting opinion here or there.
    But if the situation changes, surely people can change their mind and say so. Isnt that a good thing.

    • There’s nothing wrong with Victorian’s behavior. We aren’t more reckless than other states. The difference is our Government’s incompetent handling of the situation.

      • DodgydamoMEMBER

        Contract tracing (no matter how competent) is only as good as the information they receive, and unfortunately Victoria has an infected cohort that not only aren’t following the rules properly but also not telling the full story to contact tracers (eg not owning up to cash in hand job or for quick trips up to Shepparton) leaving multi day delays in the ability to identity and trace all contacts and contain further outbreaks. It was talked about in the Sunday press conference by Andrews and Sutton so I’m not sure why no one talks about it? The numbers had been great at the start of the week and if it wasn’t for a couple of these drongos actions and omissions last week we probably would be unlocked next weekend. The response of Shepparton residents turning out to get tested last week shows how seriously most of Victoria take the issue and the actions required to end lockdown for us all, it’s unfortunate that in Melbourne we are hostage by the actions of very few.

          • As soon as you do this the cases not yet tested won’t want to get tested; and it will break out again. Especially young people – they would rather have the “sniffles” and go out than be stuck at home for 14 days +

            I suspect it’s a big reason why testing numbers in NSW are so low – its hard psychologically to go into lockdown when everyone else isn’t. Nothing like a bit of FOMO to make you not want to get tested sadly. When everyone was in lockdown your boss couldn’t complain; now if your forced for 14 days or longer to be in your house and no one else is well… it doesn’t look good for you especially in small business employ.

          • My exact point from yesterday again, except as AK points out, it would end up being counter productive and additionally the Andrews government would face even more howls of ‘draconian’, ‘police state’ etc

    • Tbh I’m not entirely sure the NSW government contact tracing system fully works either. There’s been cases all over the city, despite small numbers everyday – all stemming from the Crossroads Hotel outbreak months ago (on the M5 – the main road to Victoria and I suspect caused by a Victorian stopping at that pub on the way to Syd).

      Its easy to trace when the infection isn’t at high numbers or sparse (i.e. there’s a centre point of origin it is spreading from) and numbers are low. Both have to be true for contact tracing to be effective – otherwise the tracers themselves become overwhelmed and miss details.

      • This. Balanced, reasonable and rational – all readers have been looking for from MB for months – in one simple paragraph.

  6. Winter virus. City temps now: Sydney 17.0° Melbourne 7.7°

    A study shows the coronavirus doesn’t survive as long in hot, humid weather

    23 March 2020

    Ruby Princess passenger says 2,700 travellers were ‘waved through’ and let into Sydney without ANY health checks – then took public transport home

    24 March 2020

    Ruby Princess passenger with coronavirus caught a six-hour train home

    Wearing a mask in NSW is not mandatory but Vic has 817 deaths?

  7. GunnamattaMEMBER

    As I have been saying a while and have had reiterated to me in the last half hour I suspect the whole Victorian experience will be seen in a completely different light after the Northern Hemisphere winter has passed.

    I have just got off the blower with people in London telling me that are going into lockdown, and as someone trying to get a Mrs and kid back to Australia from offshore via London I am told that they have a two week quarantine requirement for people entering the UK, but that nobody is policing that and that in one case I personally know of someone has done it in a hostel with a load of other students nearby.

    While no doubt the VIC lockdown has been a right pain in the backside, I have also within the last day had people in Stockholm tell me the opinion there was around to ‘we should have gone lockdown’ – so go figure.

      • Instead of looking overseas, why not look directly north to NSW?
        Australia is an island nation. So we were always well placed to control the virus.
        Comparing our situation to Europe and the US isn’t helpful.
        Why not look at Asia, where they’ve successfully managed the virus without harsh lockdowns.
        Why cherry pick data?

        • happy valleyMEMBER

          What has your comment got to do with my comment regarding the control of the Murdoch media in Australia?

        • Arthur Schopenhauer

          Leith, one of the things you haven’t accounted for is weather. The virus is more transmissible in cool weather, with a Melbourne winter being pretty close to ideal conditions.

          Like Gunna, I do a lot of work with Europeans. Over the past couple of weeks the weather has cooled dramatically, and the virus has taken off again.

          Vietnam, Singapore and Taiwan have hot and humid summers, and well run public health systems.

          I would expect virus transmissibility to reduce as the weather warms, and return again next May. While in the northern hemisphere, the virus to rapidly spread as the weather cools.

          It’s been hard and it is very frustrating to see the limits of governance exposed. I feel your pain.

          If you look at the Victorian EPA’s handling of dangerous chemical storage (and subsequent fires), or the Fire Authority dysfunction, or local councils dramatically amending VCAT decisions under developer pressure, or the coming scandal of asbestos disposal, you see a pattern.

          Most of our leaders are in the position because they give good media (as highlighted by Gunna, Clive and others), and the Victorian Public Service has been twisted to that end.

          You and David have done a great job exposing the Ponzi and the other existential threat to Australia. On those issues you do a great job on the ‘whys’. There are a whole bunch of systemic reasons related to the capacity of the Victorian Public Service that have dictated their response.

          It hasn’t been great, but it has worked. Over the long term we should focus on why the Victorian Government has far less capacity than other States. It’s systematic, and won’t change if the talking head at the top is swapped for another of the same kind.

          • “Leith, one of the things you haven’t accounted for is weather. The virus is more transmissible in cool weather, with a Melbourne winter being pretty close to ideal conditions.”

            It’s mid October. Even if that argument is true, it no longer holds.

          • Arthur Schopenhauer

            Leith, October overnight temperatures vary enormously in October. Melbourne does not have consistently warm overnight temperatures until mid November.

            At 6:30am this morning it was 4.5C. Ideal transmission temperature at the start of the commuter rush hours. A few days ago it was 17C at the same time.

            Consistently attacking the symptoms will not get us to the ‘why’ of the cause. The Victorian Government will continue to struggle because, to put it in MBA speak, it is lacking the People (with real skills), the Processes (developed by skilled people) and Product Policies.

            It can’t be effective in the last, if it doesn’t have the first two. Attacking the symptoms is not going to fix the cause. It only guarantees a repeat performance.

            Edit: The lack of accountability you see at the top is a cultural problem endemic to the VPS, along with much of corporate Australia.

    • @ Gunna Well put.

      As the author of three of the posts LVO has seen fit to reproduce here, I stand by my criticism, stated along with others for weeks, that these daily reports on the VIC versus NSW Covid situation have been selective, biased and simplistic and the constant misuse of the adjective ‘draconian’, absurd.

      As Disraeli said, there are lies, damned lies and statistics, but in this case, many other contributing factors such as yours here, which have been repeatedly ignored or glossed over for weeks, ultimately resulting in several questioning LVO’s analytical skills—similar in fact to his commentary on farming and farmers.

      LVO posted an excellent analysis on immigration days ago, for which I sincerely congratulated him, but while MB commentary is mostly excellent, it is not infallible, and this is a case in point.

      And as a postcript to LVO, yes I lived my entire adult life in Melbourne and have children and a very recent grandchild there, and another who was born five weeks premi during the lockdown, and I and my family have, as have so many, found the going tough. But I have not allowed this to cloud my judgment or my belief, as you, Gunna state here, that we will look back on this time and view it in a different, and I sincerely hope and trust, more positive light.

      • drt15. Your arguments have been demolished. Every claim you made is not backed up by the data. Instead you still rely on ad hominem attacks.

        Comparing us to Europe and the USA is the ultimate cherry picking by you. Why not NSW, why not Korea or Japan? These places have successfully managed the virus without draconian lockdowns and iron fist police rule.

        Melburnians have suffered through the longest and harshest lockdowns in the world. Enoughs enough.

        • happy valleyMEMBER

          LvO – you’d better “get on your bike” and warn the Irish that they are mad. They have just announced a level 5 lockdown for 6 weeks (at the start of winter – so, 6 weeks might be wishful thinking) that sounds suspiciously like the Victorian model (5 km travel limit, non-essential businesses (eg hairdressers) shut etc etc etc). Google “Irish lockdown” and you will find a lengthy Guardian article on it.

      • I don’t think most Victorians understand the damage caused by these lockdowns. Victoria is a horse we are whipping to death to win a race, only to have it die after we cross the finish line.

  8. johnwilliamsmithMEMBER

    Whatever the new lockdown policy the Andrews government has shown itself to be corrupt, massively incompetent, secretive, deceptive, unAustralian by siding with China, and completely lacking in integrity. The preferred modus operandi of Andrews supporters is always “Ad hominem “hence the style of Leiths recent critics.

  9. Andrews was criticised for reopening too early following the first wave.
    Risk reward it makes sense to extend the lockdown and drive mystery cases down rather than reopen too early and risk another lockdown which will have no community support. They always said benchmark was 5 mystery cases over a fortnight.
    I agree some of the messaging has been off. Mainly the dishonesty. As in, how can you castigate people for lying to contact tracers when your own ministers and officials are revising their evidence to an inquiry?
    I also think the lack of stimulus from Andrews has been really poor. Payroll tax relief should have been extended.

    • “Andrews was criticised for reopening too early following the first wave.”

      No he wasn’t. The second wave had nothing to do with opening too early. It was 100% seeded by virus importation through failed hotel quarantine combined with failed contact tracing. This has been proven by genomic sequencing.

      • Leith great stuff standing up to be counted for the aggrieved against the Fascist Left. Hopefully in the next few days Sutton and Pakula will be on the rack and the Feds announce a real Royal Commission to put Coate out of her self induced misery and gives up on her instructions from Dan. Then hopefully Dan will be gone -he has shown himself to be an unsuitable person to be Premier and his lies and deceit are an unprincipled example for young people. Democracy has to be upheld.

  10. Leith, your analysis of the relative NSW verses Vic situation has been, and continues to be superficial and emotional. You admit yourself that you see the pain in our community and you have friends in dire situation. That anger has been coming through in your content for many weeks, and it has resulted in ridiculous comparisons between the two states for weeks now, and today it continues as a ex-post facto attempt to justify an analysis that simply looks at the crude numbers but has absolutely no appreciation of the underlying biological dynamic of the virus within populations. It is very clear that you are not an epidemiologist, otherwise your analysis would show an appreciation of the potential level of undetected virus that is spreading in Vic, which because of the previously high infection rates is expected to be significantly higher than NSW. Take a look at today’s Age for a solid article about this that provides the epidemiologists view. https://www.theage.com.au/national/sydney-versus-melbourne-what-the-experts-say-about-the-covid-numbers-comparison-20201019-p566ic.html

    All these recent articles, plus the cringeworthy flattery you have been laying on the politicised journalism of Peta Credlin have been disappointing to say the least.

    • Frankly Beesem, you are the one being emotional here.

      I have presented the raw facts, which you have completely ignored (as usual). The numbers do not lie. If you wish to engage in debate based on facts, please do so. But I will not tolerate ad hominem attacks by you.

      What is this “underlying biological dynamic of the virus” that you speak of? Please enlighten us all? Why does it only exist in Victoria and not NSW?

      As for the epidemiologists view, that is cherry picking. Last week 500 medical professionals wrote an open letter to Daniel Andrews requesting an end to lockdowns. So to has the WHO? Why not post those instead?

      • Leith I’ll refer you to the article in the age that I quoted, because, I too am not an epidemiologist. https://www.theage.com.au/national/sydney-versus-melbourne-what-the-experts-say-about-the-covid-numbers-comparison-20201019-p566ic.html

        “Tony Blakely, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Melbourne, says another difference is the number of mystery cases, where the origins of the infection remain unknown.

        NSW has recorded six mystery cases in the past 14 days, while Victoria has recorded 12. The infection source of six cases, however, was still being investigated in Victoria, some of which might turn out to be mystery cases.”
        “Professor Blakely said 12 was still a high number of mystery cases.

        “Mystery cases speak to the trains of transmission we haven’t worked out,” says Professor Blakely, who prepared modelling for the Victorian government.”

        “Victorian Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said at the weekend that NSW eased restrictions after reaching a 14-day rolling average of under four daily cases.

        As of Monday, the average number of cases diagnosed in Victoria was 7.7, compared to 3.6 for locally acquired cases in NSW.”

        ““We are not in an equivalent position,” Professor Sutton said. “We do need that time to see that we have got an average that is actually what all of those epidemiologists are telling us is safe.”

        Professor Mary-Louise McLaws, a UNSW epidemiologist and COVID-19 adviser to the World Health Organisation, says anything more than a 14-day rolling average of seven cases is considered in the red zone, while five to seven cases is in the orange zone.

        She says Melbourne is still not in the green zone, which is an average of under five cases in the past 14 days.

        “Victorians cannot compare themselves to NSW,” Professor McLaws says.”

    • “otherwise your analysis would show an appreciation of the potential level of undetected virus that is spreading in Vic” – Nothing but a political comment brought about for keeping the populous in fear, I could say that about any state or nation.

      From an A-political outsiders point of view, I hope your beloved Andrews goes before it’s too late for the Nation.

      One thing on Credlin (Actually I fear she’ll try and win a seat in the next federal election), I’ve never liked her much but she’s done a hell of a lot more for the state of Victoria than any so call Journo from theAge.

  11. Ronin8317MEMBER

    The Victorian government remains incompetent, and the Chief Health Officer refuses to go outside his ‘comfort zone’ . The WHO recommendation applies to countries with hundreds and thousands of cases per day and insufficient test kit. When someone tests positive, they should not be released from hotel quarantine/home detention until they return 2 negative results. The ‘ not infectious after 7 days of no symptoms’ only applies to 95% of cases. If your goal is to eliminate, that is simply not good enough.

    Contact tracing should not be done by asking someone to fill in a form. There are phone GPS location data on Android and Apple : use that instead. 48 hours is also not good enough : all the contact must be done within 24 hours. There are reputed to be 1700 contact tracers, there are less than 10 cases. What exactly are they doing? The Chadstone cluster would be a lot smaller if they are doing their job.

    As it stands, even if Victoria locks down forever, it still won’t eliminate the virus. Sutton and Dan Andrews needs to go.

  12. I’ve spent close to 7 years building up a fitness business in Victoria, from 30 people a day through the doors when we took over to 500 (on a good day). Aside from two weeks of very limited trading, we’ve been forced to close since March. We’re still paying half rent on 4 locations, insurance, utilities, and carrying 60-70K JobKeeper payments monthly. We spent the last two years saving so we could expand to a new location and that money is now all gone, plus what will probably end up being 9 months of profit and limited trading beyond that.

    We employ close to 30 staff and they are, without exception, struggling (as am I). We can’t give them any certainty as to whether there will be a business for them to come back to at the end of this so they are all facing the prospect of living on $565 a fortnight (if the government doesn’t extend the JobSeeker boost) and trying to find work in a state that’s estimated to lose 300,000 jobs. The effect of this, on top of months without being able to see friends/ family, etc. is devastating.

    In the meantime our interstate based competitors (who are opening competing businesses in Melbourne) have had all the same rent reductions and JobKeeper support but have been able to trade more or less throughout the year.

    I’m not posting this for pity, but to provide some insight into the effects of the lockdown on small business and the people employed by them. I believe Vic has lost 70,000 jobs in the last two months but there must be at least that many again employed by businesses on the brink like ours. Is it safe to assume that each additional week of lockdown is another 8,000 jobs lost (or another 300 businesses like mine closed probably forever?). I actually think that number would increase with each passing week (think of a curve that shows % of businesses that can survive x weeks without trading).

    Lastly, I don’t see a lot of these businesses ever coming back. Who would be mad enough to borrow hundreds of thousands of dollars to open a business in Victoria, when at any moment we could be plunged into another indefinite lockdown?

    COVID is not going away, and if Victoria can’t manage single digit case numbers we are truly doomed.

    • bonds007-my heart goes out to you. I am barracking for you. One thing that Andrews and his thugs do not realise is that a lot of businesses were struggling back late last year before covid. Once a business has paid rent or mortgage plus land tax, wages, workers comp, insurance, sick leave, holiday pay and fulfilled the PAYG super and BAS requirements and taken the risk under Andrews own draconian OH and S laws a proprietor is exhausted physically, mentally and financially. Meanwhile, Andrews has ramped all his wages and head count and ripped with charges and WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER!!

    • @bonds007

      @ Bond007 Most sincere commiserations. This is indeed a terrible time for so many businesses and the fallout will be immense, not least because we were in serious economic trouble before the virus. Totally agree with you that the only way forward in which businesses like yours can reopen and stay open, is if we get on top of the virus.

    • Good luck and hang in there. I’m back on pool deck at our outdoor pool but our indoor pool and gym are still closed. I got abused this morning by one swimmer who took offence at my gentle warning to two other ladies when I reminded them that congregating (they were talking to each other as they walked up and down in the pool for quite a while) was not allowed and that the police did sometimes come into the pool (they drive by in our underprivileged area frequently). I told them I was fine with their behaviour but to just be careful as I didn’t want them to be exposed to the possibility of a fine. The other lady thought I was Hitler reincarnate and soundly let me know how I was the worst possible person for reinforcing the police state we live in. It was all up a very upsetting (and distracting, which is dangerous) but there are a lot of stressed people in the community. I’m giving up 5 hours of contracted hours each week as that means I’m meeting my JS mutual work obligations (it’s no skin off my nose as I still get a JS top-up), but many of my colleagues didn’t get any gov support for various reasons and many are desperate to come back to work. We’ve also got lots of LGs who got laid off from other centres trying to get work with us. I hate to think of what the stupidly cruel Jobmaker subsidy will do to the employment options of the over 35s. Had a colleague complaining about all the implications of that this am. His wife was applying for a receptionist job at a physio clinic and the job notice changed to ‘would suit uni student’. He reckons Australia Post also changed a whole heap of job adds recently that will also signal older people need not apply. We are worried about whether or not our employer will do something to get that with our casual LGs when they come back on board, which would be disastrous for our older life guards. Grim times all round. I’m so glad I went permanent part time early last year. Many of my colleagues thought I was stupid to give up the casual pay rates, but I wanted the security of a guaranteed number of hours and what protections being permanent offers. One of the smartest decisions I’ve ever made. Once again best of luck.

    • It’s amazing how many people are a tad intolerant of robust debate. I love a good argument. Through argument, one often gets to the truth. Polite softcocks usually understand little because they value civility over clarity.

    • Especially referencing the comments made by a Member (who it was easy to work out who it was).

      Why pay to be a member to then be slagged off?

      • TheLambKingMEMBER

        Like I said above – I too think this is robust debate and not attack. I am a big boy and expect my points to be scrutinised if people disagree with them. When I open with “I worry about your analysis skills” I open myself up for attack as I ‘started it’. But I am more than ok with that. I probably should not have used that opening. I was trying to be funny – when it could be taken personally. I apologies for that.

    • Yep. A steep learning curve for all. In six months’ time there will be little difference between NSW and VIC, which will both have to continue to put out spot fires. Hopefully 🙂

  13. I hold no strong feelings about this. Could Andrews open up now? Probably. Could he wait longer and prevent a major outbreak in the future? Probably, but at a big cost. There are a lot of uncertainties. Just know that Sweden, that bastion of let-er-rip, beloved of the covid-psychos, is now starting lockdowns.

    • “these restrictions will not be legally enforceable, there will be no fines.”
      Most of the people you call psychos are not “let it rippers”. The argument is not black and white, it is about the shade of grey. It’s about the severity and the unintended consequences of Victorian lockdown. Obviously there are measures of lockdown that range from the Sweden approach to “Draconian”. The more severe the lockdown the more the likelihood of negative unintended consequences. I and many others feel Victoria went way too far and a lighter touch approach would have been effective with less damaging side effects. COVID infections are not the only quantity that needs consideration (although they are one of the easiest statistic to collate and use as an incomplete argument), health is a huge part of it obviously but lockdown has impacted every part of everyone’s lives and there is far more nuance to the anti lockdown argument than is being debated here and almost everywhere else.

  14. From an outsider’s perspective when VIC was having 500 cases a day the decision to lockdown was the right one – no contact tracing system would cope then. Don’t hate the lockdown though (the symptom); hate your quarantine system and weak borders (the cause). Quarantine away from the main cities; and keep planes grounded and your friend’s business would of survived very well – I’m seeing it here in NSW with local businesses especially in the burbs; they’ve never had it better as they say themselves. All that demand that would of been spent overseas is going to local tourist businesses; they’ve never had it so good!

    Until a trend of low cases is established it isn’t prudent to remove lockdown. You guys are close IMO; hence the calls are starting to come out. In the end the lock down seems to be a success – your cases have dropped from 500 to less than 10 a day. Can’t argue with results.

  15. All of the lives lost and ruined due to our great leaders (unique in human history) response to a flu virus that has an IFR of about .03%.
    What a bunch of spineless fools who demand that their fellow man be stripped of their human rights so they can feel a little safer.

    • The CDC has changed the IFR values of Covid-19 into age-specific estimates, which are now very low at 0.003% for 0–19 years, 0.02% for 20–49 years, 0.5% for 50–69 years, and 5.4% for 70+ years.

      And then there’s Long Covid.

      And then there’s the re-infection with different strains.

      • Same CDC not so long ago had numbers order of magnitude higher or in other words they were wrong by 1000% and blasting at people who were saying numbers are much lower.
        Should we trust CDC now or we can expect one or few more sets of reduced numbers ?

        Also, with reinfections IFR is going to drop signifisignificantly because previous infection leaves immunity that makes subsequent reinfections milder or asymptomatic.

        Covid19 is a reinfection of common cold with a different strain.

  16. Melbourne is currently in the middle of a large epidemic but it’s not covid19, it’s epidemic of Stockholm syndrome.
    https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/stockholm-syndrome
    One needs only few mins on social media to see that majority of the population shows strong symptoms.

    I’m afraid that the mental health issues coming out of this virtue signling political acts are going be so great and will last for a generation.

    • John Howards Bowling Coach

      Absolutely agree. So many mistake a non stop 24/7 press conference for leadership. When in the longer term it will be the opposite as Dan Andrews appearance will be psychologically links in the conscious to the overbearing controlling attempts of this elongated virus control measure. They will see his face and recall the torture, I think he’ll become unelectable, political poison.