The future: Widespread COVID infections, minimal deaths

The United Kingdom and the Netherlands provide an interesting case study into what Australia’s future could look like once the majority of the population is fully vaccinated.

Both nations have already unwound most COVID-19 restrictions. Britain on Monday is scheduled to do away with all of its legal coronavirus restrictions in what is dubbed “Freedom Day”.

In the Netherlands, nightclubs have reopened and festivals have return with massive crowds congregating:

COVID crowds

Massive crowds in the Netherlands.

As expected, COVID infections are surging in both nations, rapidly approaching prior peaks:

COVID infections

COVID infections surging.

However, because of both nations’ very high vaccination rates:

Vaccination rates

Most residents in UK and Netherlands are vaccinated.

Hospital admissions related to COVID remain way down on prior peaks; albeit rising in the UK:

COVID hospital admissions

Hospital admissions low.

ICU admissions are lower:

ICU admissions

COVID ICU admissions low.

And few people are now dying of COVID:

COVID deaths

Hardly anybody now dying of COVID.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out, especially across the Netherlands. But for now it looks as if the link between COVID infections, hospitalisations and deaths has been well and truly broken.

Here’s how Australia’s vaccination rates are travelling against those nations:

Australia's vaccination rate

Australia’s vaccination rate low.

Hopefully by the end of the year, once Australia has caught up, we too can stop locking down.

Unconventional Economist
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  1. Those susceptible of dying (co-morbidity/obesity/diabetes) from covid probably did it last year there.In Israel 60% of covid currently in ICU have been vaccinated (most 6 months ago).

  2. Knew it would eventually go that way, get vaxxed, be healthy, and worry just a little bit.

    • Yeah besides the vax, be healthy, it a bit of a shame this covid period has not been used to promote getting healthier asap as covid is mostly a concern for metabolically unhealthily ones.

        • kiwikarynMEMBER

          The absolute #1 risk factor for serious Covid symptoms or death, is obesity. Yet not a single Govt in the world is promoting losing weight as a covid prophylactic measure. Its actually criminal. There is so much research proving the link with obesity that they can’t claim they didn’t know about it, or that its “misinformation” or a conspiracy theory. Its indisputable fact. And worse, the medical establishment runs the line that “healthy” young people are in hospital with Covid, because to categorise being overweight as being unhealthy is considered fat shaming, and isnt allowed. Which once again, stops fat people from being told about their risk factor and denies them the opportunity to do something about it. Vaccines don’t work as well on obese people either, so they wont save you.

      • TheLambKingMEMBER

        Yeah besides the vax, be healthy, it a bit of a shame this covid period has not been used to promote getting healthier asap as covid is mostly a concern for metabolically unhealthily ones.

        And yet, the data currently says that the less healthy we become the longer we are living!

        People were much ‘healthier’ 100-150 years ago, but the life expectancy was almost half what it currently is with our current levels of obesity and junk food!

        Maybe, just maybe, these vaccinations might have something to do with life expectancy, rather than just ‘being healthy’?

        • Display NameMEMBER

          Biggest change to life expectancy has been the massive drop in infant mortality. Vaccines do play a part as well. No polio or measles/mumps/tb anymore.

          • Correct, and that was driven almost exclusively by sanitation and water chlorination.
            An excellent NBER working paper: The Role of Public Health Improvements in Health Advances: The 20th Century United States

            Mortality rates in the US fell more rapidly during the late 19th and early 20th Centuries than any
            other period in American history. This decline coincided with an epidemiological transition and the
            disappearance of a mortality “penalty” associated with living in urban areas. There is little empirical
            evidence and much unresolved debate about what caused these improvements, however. This paper
            investigates the causal influence of clean water technologies n filtration and chlorination n on
            mortality in major cities during the early 20th Century. Plausibly exogenous variation in the timing
            and location of technology adoption is used to identify these effects, and the validity of this
            identifying assumption is examined in detail. We find that clean water was responsible for nearly
            half of the total mortality reduction in major cities, three-quarters of the infant mortality reduction,
            and nearly two-thirds of the child mortality reduction. Rough calculations suggest that the social rate
            of return to these technologies was greater than 23 to 1 with a cost per life-year saved by clean water
            of about $500 in 2003 dollars. Implications for developing countries are briefly considered.

          • kiwikarynMEMBER

            Less work accidents as well, along with better medical care – both diagnostic to pick up problems early and treatments to prolong life. Previously a bacterial infection would kill you, now we have antibiotics.

          • No epic World War One or world war 2 or nam, or Mao or Pol Pot or Stalin or Lenin, or Boers, or Nasties, or I Amin, or Godafty, or Simo – viet war or K Kay K or cowboys or injuns or confederates etc etc etc etc to take out youth:)) Did I miss and other boogeymen of last couple of centuries & recent decades??? When were the G olden days??

  3. Charles MartinMEMBER

    Good thing we still don’t know how the virus came to be amongst the worlds population, but if we have to deal with it, we have to deal with it and it will remain a mystery

    • I’d like to deeply probe Dr Fauchi & his cohorts to get to the bottom of this mess……

      • @colin

        Dr Fauci ? In it up to his neck.
        And it would appear the US Biden Obama administration as well as the Chinese CCP & the WHO are all culpable in the deaths of over 4 million people from this new virus pandemic so far.

        In 2014, after a series of mishaps at US BioWarfare labs (Fort Detrick & others) the Obama-Biden administration faced a moratorium on US virus lethality ‘gain of function research’.

        👉🏾Obama, Joe Biden & Dr Fauci then made the decision in 2014 to outsource this virus gain of function experimentation to Wuhan Labs (WIV) China with funding.

        This was despite extensive scientific community warnings of the risks involved – which are on public record.

        Dr Fauci & the US NIH then established a proxy or front organization, the EcoHealth Alliance (Peter Daszak) with a grant & specific clauses allowing for continuation of this virus gain of function experimentation, and a five-year grant for the WIV to curate & evolve (using humanised mice & other animals).

        It was deliberate gain of function.
        To develop novel (new), humanized lethal variants of coronavirus

        The US NIH grants were assigned to the prime contractor, Daszak of the EcoHealth Alliance, who subcontracted them to Shi of Wuhan Labs.

        Here are extracts from those grants for fiscal years 2018 and 2019. (“CoV” stands for coronavirus and “S protein” refers to the virus’s spike protein.)

        “Test predictions of CoV inter-species transmission. Predictive models of host range (i.e. emergence potential) will be tested experimentally using reverse genetics, pseudovirus and receptor binding assays, and virus infection experiments across a range of cell cultures from different species and humanized mice.”
        “We will use S protein sequence data, infectious clone technology, in vitro and in vivo infection experiments and analysis of receptor binding to test the hypothesis that % divergence thresholds in S protein sequences predict spillover potential.”
        What this means, in non-technical language, is that Shi set out to create novel and lethal coronaviruses with the highest possible infectivity for human cells.
        Gain of function. More evidence in this link.
        Full report and details.
        Nicholas Wade The Bulletin May 2021.

        Detailed status reports on the progress of the virus gain of function – particularly the corona virus spike / ACE2 modification to allow a benign human cold virus to be a vector for serious lung infection & blood vessel damage & stroke in humans (and only humans) were given to Dr Fauci : who praised or commented on these reports.

        The US Embassy in China, alarmed at what was happening & the safety standards at Wuhan Labs sent warning cables “over 1,150 mutant man made lethal viruses with no human immunity” “being done in conditions no safer than a dentist’s clinic” “CCP BioWarfare involvement” to the Obama & Biden administration.

        On October 5th 2019, an outbreak occurred with 7 lab workers rushed to hospital. 2 are suspected to have died. They have literally ‘disappeared in any records or information.’

        The Wuhan facility & surrounding area was locked down and placed under Chinese CCP BioWarfare command until October 25th 2019.

        The virus spread into the local area, deaths were hidden and reported as pneumonia.

        In December 2019, Wuhan residents aware by people dropping dead in the street & by word of mouth started to flee.

        The Wuhan labs database was deleted & modified to hide or mask the virus codification, and falsified information was provided on Mojiaing mine virus & others to give false trails to anyone trying to find the original source.

        In January 2020 – after nearly 4 million Chinese had fled Wuhan, the city & surrounding area was placed in public lockdown.

        Chinese started to flee China as the virus spread.

        Chinese were prevented from travelling internally (China has an internal passport system), but if they had an overseas visa or were even eligible (even as a visitor/ tourist), they were sent overseas in what appears to be a deliberate tactic by China to spread the virus as quickly as possible internationally.

        The WHO under pressure from China declared no ‘human to human transmission’, ‘no aerosolised transmission’, ‘all infections from the Wuhan wet market’ & other false information.

        In April 2020 Trump found out about and cancelled the US Wuhan Lab grants.
        Dr Fauci then set about reinstating them covertly.
        They were eventually cancelled again later on.

        The rest we all know.

    • Someone ate a bat in a wet market in the back streets of Woo Ham province…that’s the original story SBS & the likes were touting back in the G olden days of 2019 when Covid was Corona.. just say CC

  4. We don’t know how good the vaccines are going to be in a month or how fast the efficacy drops off in the real world of Delta……last data point is 3 weeks old , that is an age during an epidemic. What matters is the average length of the ICU stay of all the younger people that are going to go into hospital over the next 2 months……if it is 5 days unventilated and 20 days ventilated like last time they are toast because their hospitals will fail.

    Nurses are starting to leave in the US and UK because they feel they are being hung out to dry.

    • Its the front line staff at risk in this experiment. In a big population size the only thing that matters is how many times the virus gets to test the auto-immunity “wall”. If it is still being transmitted in the community, however small, given enough dice rolls it will eventually get through.

    • Ha Ha
      Nurses are starting to leave in the US and UK because they feel they are not being clapped often enough on every media outlet.
      Fixed it for ya:

  5. Another way for Gen X to get screwed…we can all watch our ~70 yr old parents get picked off by the virus as other un-related medical conditions stack up and make them prime meat for C19 (vaccinated or otherwise).

  6. That is a big difference between UK and NL with similar vaccination rates.
    What explains that? Population health? Something else?

  7. SauropodMEMBER

    Maybe. There is a risk they will accelerate evolution of new variants resistant to the vaccines.

    • Arthur Schopenhauer

      You are too polite, Sauropod. It’s not a risk, it’s known behaviour. It’s how biology works.

      So now there are at least 16,000,000 potential incubators in the UK for new variants, and the ideal conditions for the virus to jump back and forth between humans and domestic animals.

      Pre-emptive opening up is a really, really stupid thing to do.

      • OZ battlerMEMBER

        So when do you believe it’s safe to open up…
        Never? What’s the end game if a virus will mutate as every virus does. The dystopia the world will become will be much more dangerous than this virus,
        should lockdowns continue to be used indefinitely even with a majority vaccinated population.

        • Arthur Schopenhauer

          With the Delta variant, you need to get to between 80 an 90% of the adult population vaccinated.

          Viruses become less dangerous over a longer timeframe than months. Some viruses never lose their lethality. Others, like measles, kill a lot of people to get there.

          We are an island country: low immigration, high quality quarantine, a broad vaccination program and a little more self sufficiency would go a long way.

          Viruses doesn’t care about politics, economics or human patience.

          • I’m gobsmacked by what the UK is doing… again.

            It’s like you can already see it written as a cautionary tale of what not to do in history books to come.

            It is an extremely bad idea. Too early.

          • Others, like measles, kill a lot of people to get there.”

            measles is just as lethal today as it ever was, thats why we vaccinate EVERYONE near enough with a proven vaccine that has undergone thorough testing and evaluation.

        • “‘So when do you believe it’s safe to open up…
          Never? “”
          Unfortunately this is the truth, either that or don’t lockdown at all are the 2 most logical options, and since we decided ön lockdowns that seems the way we continue.

    • Yeah, the data on the Financial Times interactive tool looks like the UK death numbers are going up at the same trajectory as their last outbreak too. There seems to be a good two months in the rolling averages before a rise in cases starts showing up in the number of deaths. For the Netherlands, their cases only started rising just before the start of July, so we shouldn’t expect to see any uptick in deaths until the start of September.

      • Current UK 7 day average is 50 deaths per day, up from a low of 6 deaths per day. As you say, it’s still rising, but at the current level 50 deaths per day in population of UK is roughly equivalent to 6 deaths per day in NSW on a per capita basis, or 2000 per year. Not a truly high number in itself, but might be difficult to swallow for a populace who are currently going through a lockdown without seeing it get anywhere near that number.

        • kiwikarynMEMBER

          Put that in context. Thats still lower than the normal number of people who die from the flu each year. Once Covid is at flu levels, there is zero reason to stay in lockdown. Otherwise we should be locking down for the flu as well if everyone is that concerned about people dying. Which they are not.

        • Hopefully if these statistics are mirrored in Oz landlords of slum & overpriced/valued rental properties and folk who own >2 properties will feature heavily amongst the dead freeing up some decent housing for the less well off but more fortunate not dead by Corona folk to live in:) Give me shelter cry long term homeless & recently displaced ex tenants:))

    • BabundaMEMBER

      Yes. Statistics is not a strength here…

      “But for now it looks as if the link between COVID infections, hospitalisations and deaths has been well and truly broken.”

      Complete non-sequitur

  8. Goldstandard1MEMBER

    We’ll know the real numbers in the UK and Netherlands (and US) by then which is good. I don’t think we’ll be following that path but I hope I am wrong.

    Don’t assume Delta is not an issue. Some numbers as we know it are these:

    Covid 19 early strains in an unvaccinated population had a hospitalisation rate of about 6.4%. This was of course combined with a lock down strategy. Long Covid hits 1 in 50 people.

    It looks like Delta spreading in a largely VACCINATED population has a hospitalisation rate of approx. 1.7%. That’s much better obviously except the idea is to let it rip. In addition long COVID (people who have symptoms/issues beyond 12 weeks of getting it) seems to be an issue. It’s a big issue to the workforce but also the health system because you might get 200K infections a day in the UK which even @ 1.7% hospitalisation rate is 3400 per day.

    I am all for opening up under the right conditions but this UK experiemnet is probably too early. At least the learnings they have over the next 6 months will show us our plan for next winter. Masks certainaly won’t be going anywhere. Limits on indoor event might be here for much longer too.

    Dr. John (one of the data led ones)

  9. What I don’t understand about all of this is a year and a half ago when there was no guarantee of a vaccine why we didn’t start building other risk controls such as dedicated quarantine facilities? Especially since it was the only sure way at the time to deal with this given the knowledge they had at the time. On any risk/project management strategy the government has failed – just before the lockdown both Scomo and Gladys were in a press conference arguing against the need for dedicated quarantine facilities. Guess they want open travel?

    Given the large cost to the community of the current lockdown I’m sure the benefits of having two ways of managing this risk is better than one. Guess they want to roll the dice on the vaccines and not give people the option of effective quarantine so people have to “live with the virus”.

    • Lord DudleyMEMBER

      “why we didn’t start building other risk controls such as dedicated quarantine facilities?”

      Because the people who run the federal government are a mob of lawyers, marketers, and political apparatchiks. None of them have ever built a thing in their lives. They have no competencies and no capability. Australia’s political class is largely useless, and in the last 20 years have deliberately decreased Australia’s ability to actually do anything.

      • Sadly I think that is somewhat true. However as seen with bad projects that the community doesn’t want they suddenly become competent and “get things done”. Toll roads, large scale developments, airports, etc – it seems project success and government competence is inversely proportional to community wants/demands in Australia – well at least NSW and VIC.

        Which is why sadly don’t think they are incompetent – that’s a cop out and obscures their actual decision making framework to not build this. I think they are actually intelligent people; which makes me think – if they didn’t do that then why? What vested interests/strategies/etc are they trying to appeal to?

        My thoughts are that quarantine mitigates the risk of COVID and allows most of the community the least amount of sacrifices for the protection it offers (cost/benefit). However its almost the inverse to immigration where the community bore the cost (traffic, jobs, environment, etc) and big business/property developers/etc got the profits. Which is why for our governments its better NOT to provide that option to the electorate instead framing the choice between lockdowns and vaccine. When we could easily do more.

      • Frank DrebinMEMBER

        But that’s the most weird thing, they don’t really have to do anything !!. All they need to do is take a decision to use taxpayer money to build these things and there is literally no downside for them.

        They can create a rigged tender process and get their LNP mates to build, own, operate and manage these things in an ongoing capacity thereby diverting public money to key stakeholders.

        They will also get the political boost as opposition is minimal and they can ride off into the sunset proclaiming they have saved Australia.

        There are literally no downsides to building these things, and all for 1/10th the cost of a leaky French submarine !!.

        • There is a downside though. With quarantine facilities the marginal cost of that business trip or jet setting, and temporary visa migration becomes much higher if not in money in time. Travel to see relatives and the occasional holiday would still be feasible but the open borders they want would be slowed down. This unfortunately is a bit anti-globalisation – great for the middle and lower classes on average and therefore must be stopped I would think. This would be great for the middle class w.r.t wages, environment, slower development, etc. Even if the “money is funneled to their mates” as you state, there would be many more of their mates complaining than gaining I assume.

      • Yeh, it is reckoning like when the Germans smashed into a hollowed out Russian officer class in WWII. You realise you actually need real skills in some of these roles not just ‘mates’.

    • The conn theorist$$ on u tube bang on about the Vex, jab or shot always being part of the final solution. Thank Dog they’re inadvertently correct and as soon as enough plebs have taken the jab to give the rest piece of mind that heard immunity has been achieved flights to Bali can resume

  10. What’s still no clear to me is what happens to people who do get Covid in the brave new post Vax world? Will they still be required to self-isolate for 14 days? What about their family and close contacts? Will there be some sort of Covid apartheid where you have to prove you don’t have it before you are allowed into an office/ restaurant etc.

    It will be an interesting test for sick leave, particularly for casuals because it is almost certain that everyone will get it at some stage.

    And that’s before we work out what to do with overseas travel.

    • Goldstandard1MEMBER

      That’s why it’s good we can watch UK and US and see how opening up looks. We are 9 months behind so what you see them try for their Winter we will have the learnings for our next Winter. Unfortunately they can learn NOTHING from us except lockdowns work.

      • Yeah agree that we are in a good position to wait and see but it would be nice if there was some sort of working assumption that government had in mind.

    • I don’t think it will be a case of 14-day isolation. It will be treated like any other virus – if you’re sick enough not to work, then you stay home until you’re better. If you’re not, then you will probably come to work anyway. Rapid testing technology will be widespread soon enough as well.

      • I guess that’s my question – even if you have it but feel fine, will you be allowed to spread it by going to work or to the footy?

        • Goldstandard1MEMBER

          That’s why the hospitalisation % is key over the next few months. If it’s 2% of everyone that is too much. Additionally if Long Covid stays at 1 in 50 then that too is to high for the let it rip strategy and vaccines must develop first.

    • If everyone gets it won’t they be dead soon after! Won’t heard immunity protect everyone? Won’t the unvexxed just up & die as they should for being spoil sports? If they’re not dying but simply awfully sick does it matter? Turns out Oz has lots of babies born live despite being @borted late term and they are left to die as per hospital policy & clearly the mothers request & intention so why is population being proG rammed to worry about ‘old’ & [email protected] folk catching a cold. Perhaps government & regulators should look at cost of heating (gas & electricity) & house quality so folk can live comfortably warm, well rested, stress free & relaxed…not paying through the nose for everything

  11. Anders Andersen

    Don’t remember which media it was reported in, but the Dutch have backtracked on the loosening due to steep increase in infection numbers, no reporting on hospitalisation rates and event groups suing gov. This was max of 2 days ago.

      • Anders Andersen

        Also saw an article that stated the UK death rate over a seven day period was down to an Av of 40 pd, but that’s still over 5,300 pa!

      • From the ABC article above the Dutch prime minister has now reversed course and apologised:
        “We had poor judgement, which we regret and for which we apologise.”

        Please update the article above, it is out of date and misleading. The ICU admissions and deaths will inevitably follow such a large increase in their case numbers, but not for a few weeks at least.

        Also a reasonable number of the young people now infected, will likely spread the Delta variant to their older relatives causing more problems in a few weeks
        Netherlands also has greater hospital and ICU capacity compared to UK and Australia hopefully that will help them in the next few months.

        • Agree Robertc.
          It’s way too early to be proclaiming the UK Freedom Day & their high % vax rates as being a new way forward in this Pandemic. Netherlands is heading in a not so good direction with infections & hospital interventions rising rapidly. So UK is an experiment at best.
          Strange that MB would be commenting on this as though it’s a definite way forward. At best it is just one way forward & until further evidence is available could be the least favored way forward.
          Certainly do understand the world at some stage has to get on with life but I can’t see that UK & Netherlands are showing the way. Especially when you factor in the 3rd World & Developing nations & their next waves of Covid outbreaks that the West seems to be ignoring. Personally find it a bit galling to see UK celebrating Freedom Day when so many in the 3rd World & Developing world are struggling with daily life & access to limited health care. You’d think the West could put someone else’s needs in front of their very selfish “Freedom Day” desires?

  12. So the graphs for ICU and deaths show the same drop off in the summer months last years- pre vaccine. ??

    • Yes they do, it’s amazing how the vax was almost as effective before it was administered as after isn;t it.

  13. Arthur Schopenhauer

    This is a very conventional Economist’s take David.

    Despite the contrary evidence from Israel and the Netherlands you are doubling down on what you want to be true.

    The Pandemic will not be over by the end of the year.

  14. With Glady’s and Dr Kerry Chant we will be vaccinated, wearing masks indoor and out, with everything shut down indefinitely trying to get that case number down to zero for at least 30 consecutive days….you know, just to be sure. You think I’m joking?
    NSW will never be fully open ever again as long as they are calling the shots no matter how many vaccinated and how miniscule the risks are or the damage done to the economy and people lives.


      30 days you are dreaming. With Sydeney’s current mockdown they’ll be out of this one by the time the fed budget gets in surplus again.

  15. The UK is getting anywhere between 20-60 COVID deaths per day despite it being the middle of summer and most of the population fully vaccinated and I assume most of the population with COVID exposure in the past.

    This is a seasonal virus so that will be up to several hundred deaths per day in the middle of winter, so I think lockdowns will be on the cards again for much of Europe later this year because every COVID death of a 90 year old is a tragedy that can be avoided.