Don’t expect to reopen at 80% vaccination

The federal government’s plan to reopen the economy once 80% of Australians aged 16+ have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 is based on advice from the Doherty Institute.

However, we are slowly being conditioned to remain locked down until a 90% vaccination threshold is reached. A case in point is the following article from The ABC citing Singapore:

Having passed the 80 per cent double-vaccination mark last month, the example of Singapore suggests that achieving a milestone coveted by Australia is not a guarantee of returning to anything like pre-pandemic life.

The island state reluctantly delayed reopening measures and re-imposed some restrictions last week after seeing its highest daily COVID-19 infections in more than a year.

On Sunday, the nation of 5.7 million people reported 555 new local COVID-19 cases, the most since August 2020.

A day earlier, it recorded its 58th death, a partially vaccinated 80-year-old man with a history of diabetes, hypertension and heart problems.

Singapore’s Ministry of Health last week banned social gatherings at workplaces…

Alex Cook, an infectious diseases modelling expert at the National University of Singapore, said life had not improved “by as much as we might have hoped”, despite Singapore being one of the world’s most vaccinated countries.

“The community cases have actually gone up since reaching 80 per cent coverage, in part because we’re allowing more social events for those who are vaccinated and, I dare say, more fatigue at the control measures,” Mr Cook told the ABC.

“One main lesson from across South-East Asia is that it is incredibly hard to prevent Delta’s spread and, as Singapore shows, even high vaccination rates will not help that much,” he said…

Singapore has only 35 seriously ill COVID-19 patients, with seven in ICU, according to its Ministry of Health…

Achieving 80 pc ‘too low for Delta’…

“They set a target of 80 per cent, which is too low … it would have worked fine for the Alpha strain but this is Delta, a variant with easily two to three times more transmissibility,” Dr Leong said.

“They now need at least 90 per cent vaccination, which is technically not possible due to hardened anti-vaxxers or refusers.”

Dr Leong said 80 per cent was “not good enough because it can still burden the hospital system very significantly and there will be too many excess deaths”…

Australia’s threshold is actually lower because it is based on the population aged over 16.

Singapore’s threshold is based on the total population.

An examination of the actual COVID data paints a less alarmist picture.

Singapore’s vaccination rate is among the highest in the world with 76.5% of its population fully vaccinated and a further 1.9% partially vaccinated:

Sure, daily cases have surged:

However, 98.5% are asymptomatic or mild, according to the Singaporean Government:

Moreover, Singapore’s hospital system is not exactly overrun with only 42 admissions, of which 7 are in ICU:

Finally, COVID deaths are only running at around three per week:

Based on the above hard data, it is hard to see what the fuss is about.

Australia’s policy makers need to balance the ‘costs’ of restrictions against the ‘benefits’ of preventing COVID illness.

Keeping Aussies locked down for months on end as we await for a 90% vaccination rate is a ‘bridge too far’ in my opinion and does not properly balance benefits with costs.

There is more to life than avoiding death.

Unconventional Economist


  1. Look at UK, 80% over 16yo vaccinated, 97.5% with some form of immunity, they still get over 30k cases a day and 200 deaths a day.But all good, even in UK, property prices are booming.

  2. Unvaccinated Treated As Sub-Human

    You can have 100% vaccination rates it won’t matter.

    The leaky vaccines only have 40-60% efficacy.

    The vaccinated are infectious.

    There will never be herd immunity for COVID.

    • You obviously dont understand the concept of herd immunity.

      Vaccines are not required for herd immunity, all that is required is reaching a high enough percentage of immunity in the population to prevent the spread of the virus. This will happen when the virus runs rampant, the vaccine is about slowing the virus spread down and reducing the impacts so the health system can cope.

      We wont reach herd immunity in a decade if we remain locked down and the virus still spreads but cant spread fast enough. The Vaccine target is minimising the impact on people, Allowing us to open back up and have the virus spread faster.

      But if it starts to overwhelm the health system we will need to lockdown again to help slow the spread and give the system a break.

      • Getting covid doesn;t stop you getting covid again, like getting a cold doesn’t stop you getting a cold again.
        We don;t have herd immunity to thhe cold, and we probably won;t to covid either, it’s around forever.

      • Unvaccinated Treated As Sub-Human

        I understand it you don’t.

        UK has one of the most vaccinated populations Earth, they have let the virus rip through their population throughout the entire summer.

        If they haven’t yet ‘achieved’ herd immunity then no country ever will.

      • Mr SquiggleMEMBER

        I think most people get the concept of herd immunity. What they don’t understand is how long it takes to develop and take effect. it took decades to develop herd immunity to Polio for example

        Our politicians and health officials have based their covid exit strategy around vaccines that are as effective as the other major vaccines that we’ve all had. eg Polio, MMR, tetanus etc.

        The issue with these half-arsed voodoo vaccines is that they aren’t shaping up as good as the covid exit strategy needs them to be.

        • Unvaccinated Treated As Sub-Human

          How effective would a polio vaccine be if it had a efficacy of 40-60% and needed a booster shot every 4 months for life.

          That’s how thick these people are when they talk about herd immunity.

  3. Having escaped Stalag Singapore on 9 September – on an open entry trip to Germany – I’d be cautious about interpreting anything coming from Singapore.

    The Government seems to be speaking with multiple voices, they’re extremely timid despite ultra-high vaccination rates and they don’t seem to be taking any of the other costs into consideration. As for cases, the vaccines aren’t sterilising, so you can still catch it even if you’re vaccinated. What’s clear is that those getting sick and needing medical treatment are unvaccinated.

    But the politicians are just totally cautious.


    The politicisation of the science is interesting to watch

    I think one’s perspective might change if one needed ICU – perhaps from a car crash or having seen Melbourne lose on Sept 25 (probably after Weightman kicks 8 goals from dubious free kicks ) – and beds all blocked by unvaccinated Covid cases.

    Do we simply refuse ICU for anti vaxers? An intolerable choice but might not have a choice

    • Everyone who wants a jab can now easily get a jab.

      From 1 November 2021 anyone who remains unvaccinated (zero doses and no medical exemption) and seeks hospital treatment will be given a sleeping bag and directed to the nearest foil wrapped anti-vax household so they can take advantage of all the latest treatment options being discussed on leading home healing websites.

      • Can’t remember which MB member said it a few times here, it will propbably come down to, the user who can pay $10K up front, system. Vaxxed, unvaxxed, smoker, drinker, drug user, healthly, reckless, whoever can expend a few words from an ambulance stretcher, which “medical research institute” should I deposit $10K to? Will be promptly attended to. Though, the bill after that will kill you.

      • Sounds reasonable to start making these decisions provided we start making judgments about all comers and their questionable life choices.
        Smokers ought to go down the queue, off for another cigarette break for you. Similarly people doing dumb things on alcohol (e.g. driving and crashing or jumping from balcony to balcony for example) they can go and have another drink.
        People overdosing or having adverse reactions illegal drugs can also nick off and pop another pill. After all there’s a segment of the population who don’t approve of people ingesting illicit substances of unknown provenance. Do it if you like but don’t expect help from the hospital.
        I haven’t even started on the people who stuff their faces (we could make it a generous BMI of over 35 unless you can provide your certificate of medically unavoidable obesity). Have another pie. Not a ventilator.
        Having peoples’ poor choices remove them from access to the system will quieten things down enormously and will be a fabulous game to play.

        • ErmingtonPlumbingMEMBER

          Why not aim to be more like America, get rid of Universal health care and have thousands of medical bankruptcies per year as well.
          That should give all you tough love cnts a great big stiffy.

        • If all these sub groups/examples you mentioned were all creating a short term spike in ICU utilization sure but they are not. Most of them are long term health issues except party ODs which unless it was a massive rager with dodgy gear which may temporarily impact the ICU capacity. In that situation, say a car crash victim with the same chance of survival as a person who OD. Medical care should probably go to them car crash victim.

          • So you think the fact that the hospital system being under pressure every single day of the year due to poor lifestyle decisions renders the point moot because there’s no glamorous Hollywood uptick in beds being used, despite the fact that 90% of hospital beds are always used by the fat, the greedy, the lazy and the venal?

            Not sure how this makes sense to you. Perhaps the situation of the hospitals existing 90% of the time purely to look after these people after their sh1tty choices comes back to haunt them has normalised an unacceptable scenario in your eyes.

          • The Traveling Wilbur

            Bloke. It’s a simple case of who owns the most IPs.

            In rhe event of a tie: Whichever one is hotter (factoring in recovery from any plastic surgeries needed of course).

          • @ Fishing – any stats to back up the assertion that the ICUs are 90% full of fat slobs in general. Or is it just a hunch? You can also chuck in poor government planning into the mix as well that leads to the stressed hospital/ICU systems.
            Peak in COVID cases an emergency situation that hopefully lasts for a couple of months. If you were unable to chip in and do your part to lessen the short term burden on the health system then you have made your bed and should expect to be in the back of the queue (not including the people who can’t take the vaccines for genuine medical reasons of course).

            @TTW – bloke its like you and Reusa came up with it in a backroom. It just makes sense.

          • 90% of hospital beds are always used by the fat, the greedy, the lazy and the venal?

            Well, about 95% of the population are at least one of fat, greedy, lazy or venal, so it sounds like ICU beds are taken up by people on average more worthy than society at large.

          • I'll have anotherMEMBER


            If they can’t get access, then they shouldn’t have to pay Medicare rebate tax, tobacco excise tax, and the usual portion of income tax that goes to health care.

            Sounds bloody good to me if thats the way it’s implemented.

            Otherwise you’re sticking your hand out, asking for their money and won’t let them in the system when they’re sick?

            And those with genetic issues that are not lifestyle related, that’s cool with you they get access?

            In which case, the lady who smokes, because she has serious mental health conditions as she was sexually abused in an institution as a child and was part of the stolen generation, what about the likes of her?

            And similar?

            Far out. Typical of my countrymen. Think as deeply as a shallow puddle before you go hang them, and yourself, out to dry.

            Tobacco excise duty makes up around 5% of all government revenue.

            The smokers are paying for the entire health system single handedly….

        • I'll have anotherMEMBER

          Sounds good Olaf.

          The smokers should then also not continue to pay the massive taxes on their products, which pays for any health event they end up having 10 times over, as well as the usual taxes they pay as part of their income tax that everyone else does.

          At that point they can afford to write a $250k cheque at the closest private hospital and be damned with the public system they fund with their Tobacco excise duty, as if they weren’t going to get old and sick at some point in the future had it not been for tobacco addiction.

        • Sure! give them a sleeping bag and send them to the offices of Phillip Morris.

          The anti-vaxers who get infected and require hospitalisation can send them supportive texts from their sleeping bags as they try out the alternative covid remedy options including losing weight and improving their diet.

          • That’s a great idea 007. And just to make it easier on everyone, we can put some sort of a mark on them so we don’t even have to ask a question, maybe some sort of headband would do the trick. And just to make sure we get everyone we could ask Apple to come up with computer system thingy to keep a track of it all. It’s all so simple and foolproof, why hasn’t this been done before? I’m just amazed that I have come up with such a original idea. They say there is nothing new under the sun, but this surely shows that there is.
            Now to solve the next problem….why can’t white men jump?

      • Just like we do for people who choose not to take their prescribed medications for epilepsy, diabetes or heart attacks, right? No, because it’s unethical to withhold emergency treatment. What you’re proposing it utilitarianism, the end justifies the means. Consider advocating for more investigation into early treatment options and going easy on the vinegar?

    • 48 deaths per day, 17,000 deaths per year. That’s from heart disease in Australia. No one cares.

      Talking about withholding treatment from a certain group is ideology.

    • Real hardened anti-vaxers are generally anti all western medical treatment. They’ll be the last people to ever go to a hospital. They’re the people who treat their own cancer symptoms with nutritional therapies, etc. I suspect they’ll be fine with whatever crackpot methods they use generally. They’d probably be dead already if it wasn’t so.

      Also my 20-year-old has a horrific history of anaphylaxis. No sane medical practitioner would jab him, even in this current mania. Going to punish him for his un-vaxed status?

    • I say we refuse ICU for anyone responsible for causing their car accident, or stupid enough to climb a ladder without following all WHS guidelines, or crossing the road while not looking, or who fell off a bike, or who didn’t chew their food properly and choked, or…

  5. Singapore’s hospital system is not exactly overrun with only 42 admissions, of which 7 are in ICU:
    Finally, COVID deaths are only running at around three per week:

    With cases at a third of what they are today two weeks ago it’s a bit early to say anything about hospitalisations. Deaths especially represents the outcome from when the case load was barely 100 cases per day, possibly lower. Check back in two or three weeks.

  6. It’s a balancing act with hospitalisations being a lagging indicator from an exponential base (cases). Not easy to manage.

    But I agree that we can’t (and were never going to) stay locked down forever – perhaps 80% of 12+ years is the right metric?

  7. Arthur Schopenhauer

    Leith, you have mixed total population with eligible population, yet again.

    Currently, 79.1% of Singapore’s total population has been vaccinated.

    You are comparing that with 90% of the Australian population 16 and over.

    90% of the eligible Australian population is 72% of the total Australian population.

    Why the continual mis-direction?

    This is deceitful and misleading. Why would anyone take you seriously?

    Build your argument on the correct numbers.

    • They’ve let the whole country down. They’ve changed the narrative slowly to make people compare to other countries and think that’s acceptable. You do have to remember they want the open borders, vaccine control only society – they always did. For them delta getting in the community bar the small hump just fast tracks their schedule. Deaths are somewhat acceptable as long as the bulk is working, moving and the higher classes who don’t do essential work can segregate themselves from the plebs living/working everyday with the virus.

      3 months ago before NSW let the cat out the bag we would of looked at Israel, the UK, Singapore and said “yeah, nah”, “who wants that?” and “they’re dreaming if they can manage that long term”. Let them have their COVID. NSW, and many media articles has created the false dichotomy between lock down and open borders. Because it suits them. It also goes to show which leaders, even if they are for selfish political reasons, are aligned with the community at present (NZ, WA, etc).


    “Don’t expect to reopen at 80% vaccination”

    Yep. Lockdowns unlikely. But some restrictions will be needed if case numbers/hospital pressure still there. Welcome to the reality of “living with Covid”!

    • Mining BoganMEMBER

      That was always the plan with the Doherty paper, that there will be the need for restrictions in certain circumstances even after vaccination targets were met, and even the occasional lockdown.

      That’s the bit that the let it RIP types like Scummo and Gladys always failed to mention. Doesn’t fit with the vibe.

    • We could just Denmark it? The question is one of societies tolerance for excess or slightly early deaths (for a period).

      Ongoing restrictions only make sense if the assumption is that we will not tolerate excess deaths. I challenge that assumption on the basis of human nature and lockdown fatigue already being felt on in VIC and NSW.

  9. As long as the freedoms offered don’t impede on my long term freedom I’m all for it. If your freedoms however risk future variants, and the cat-and-mouse game of booster shots every 5-6 months I’m not. I’m for all freedoms; yet the only one I find people are talking about is international travel which I really don’t understand – its the one reason that risks costing the whole community on a long term basis all its other freedoms and safety.

    The statistics seem fine when you are dealing with a virus that is still handled by vaccines, and economies have just recently opened up coming off a low base. However “living with COVID” adds a lot of risk that is paid for by the community in the long term – I would argue long term living with the virus isn’t great. I have friends who are due to give birth soon as an example, fully vaccinated but rightly worried about infections at the worst possible time in our current hospital system.

    Freedom to live life is great, but living life free with a safely net is better. Why not have as much of both as possible? Why is it a choice between lockdown’s and total freedom? Given the tail risks of COVID that have already bit us so many times (each lockdown) when will we learn we can’t reason/gamble with this virus in the long term? How many times do we have to go into lockdown, how long do we have to wear masks, vaccine passport jab, and all the costs of the above before we realise that “living with the virus” has its own costs and quite probable risks? Before we do effective quarantine and border control?

    I envy QLD, WA and the like. At least they’ve learnt from others mistakes. We can’t even learn from our own.

    • Losing international travel for an longer period seems a very small price for reducing the risk of increased restrictions on what we can do inside the border.
      Also not impressed with governments spruiking ‘back to the office’ given pre-covid open plan offices with people rammed together like battery hens were natural disease factories. Slowest possible return to the office seems advisable if it in any way reduces the risk of backward steps.

      • The truth is I’m not really advocating for no international travel either, just a quarantine facility for 14 days. Doesn’t have to be a bad experience either. TV, Internet Access, Air Con, a small backyard, etc. For the WFH workers they may even be able to work from their quarantine cabin. There’s ways to make it a bit more bearable to people.

        Instead of being a jet setter every year maybe you can only do it every 2 years or so. Take a longer holiday amortising the quarantine time back (i.e. 6 weeks overseas, 2 weeks quarantine every 2 years vs doing it yearly and quarantining twice assuming the 4 weeks a year AL). It isn’t the end of the world really, and over time people would just schedule their leave/holidays around the restriction.

        The open border, free travel argument isn’t really about uniting people with families, or anything like that given you could that under a quarantine regime. Its around ideology and vested interests.

        Again people are putting the false dichotomy between open travel and being a “cave nation”. These polar extreme debates usually aim to serve vested interests by putting the other side in an absurd extreme position.

        • Fine do that. That will also keep numbers of international students lower than the old normal, as being able to fly home at the drop of a hat for a wedding/ illness in family/ feeling a bit homesick was/is an important part of the package.

          The observation for me was mostly that international travel is something that a smaller group of people partake of each year compared to the number of people who visit restaurants or the proportion of kids who go to school. So it seems reasonable to delay the roll out of rarer activities if it can de-risk the chances of more common activities being restricted again, rather than a big bang/ Freedom Day approach where heaps of things are opened all at once.

          • I like this, 2 people who can deal in grey. My only challenge AK is on the value of quarantine considering this thing is now out in the wild on the east coast. What benefit does a 14 day quarantine process give us? I get it for all 0 CV-19 states but even then, I would argue that stats are not on their side in keeping this out forever.

  10. Two things to ponder …..
    Getting the last 10 or 15 % fully vacced up to 80% will be the drag , be after xmas in many areas. It’s only high 30s, low 40s at present. UK been going since December and only just getting past 80%

    When or if triage starts in ICUs it’ll be based on best survival chance based on risk assessment, simple; car wreck, drug wreck, heart or covid. Some are gonna miss out…..

    • UK been going since December and only just getting past 80%

      Huge slowdown for them after they opened up – trick is to keep some carrots handy to motivate the stragglers.

  11. I heard of a youngish person in Myanmar who sadly died of covid. Apparently oxygen ran scarce and bottles of oxygen were selling at out-of-reach prices. (Shortage = high price. Where have I seen that before?).

    Anyway I got to thinking. As a boy I electolysised water into gas. There is no need to pay a lot of money for high-pressure oxygen bottles when you are bed-ridden and only need to breath it. I am sure it can be made on site easily at low pressure.

  12. blindjusticeMEMBER

    It seems it is something that will linger and turn into different variants regularly. So is this something we need to think of on a 2 year timescale? a 5 yr one? 10 yr? 100 yr? or longer? Maybe there is research somewhere to answer this? It is something that would and should influence our strategies.

    What are the odds of it turning into something harmless and on what timescale? How does that compare with it turning into something like the Spanish flu that targets the young? WIll ADE come into play at some point? Does existing research answer, or provide clues, to any of this currently?

  13. Reus's large MEMBER

    Rubbish, their donors are loosing money hand over fist now there is no “profit keeper” to take advantage of, so they are more likely to open before 80% to be able to open teh gates to get those ‘skilled workers”, RE investors, students and tourists flowing in.

    • They’ll declare victory “afghan style” and open the gates, internal and external. “everyone had a chance!”.
      Though, this will come after WA, QLD and SA succombed to waxing

      If you dig down into human psyche, 80%-82% is the most gullibility inducing numberwang.

      delete this in 3, 2, 1…

  14. Singapore has one of the lowest case fatality rates in the world with 72,294 cases and 58 deaths to give a CFR of 0.08% for the entire population. You can be sure that the vast majority of those dying were geriatric as they are everywhere else in the world. Locking down the country seems like extreme hypochondria when the disease is killing so few. Additionally lockdowns are a very family unfriendly policy in a country with a fertility rate of just 1.1.

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