Several epidemiologists and experts believe that Melbourne is staring down the barrel of a COVID tsunami, whereby daily cases could rise into the thousands.
Adelaide epidemiologist Adrian Esterman was quoted in The AFR yesterday saying:
“I’ve done a forecast for Victoria, which is not looking good because the effective reproduction (Reff) number for Victoria is way higher than NSW”…
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Professor Esterman said the current Reff was estimated at 1.9 and had risen sharply over the last five days.
“If we look at the end of September my spreadsheet is showing me 4000 cases a day for Victoria, which is horrible, horrible,” he said.
“In NSW, hospitalisation is running at 10 per cent or higher, and even more than that if you include hospitals in the home. If Victoria is getting 4000 cases a day they’re looking at 400 hospitalised people a day. None of our hospital systems can cope with that”…
Professor Esterman said on current rates, cases were doubling every 5½ days…
Another model quoted in the same AFR article noted:
Victoria faced daily cases as high as 10,000 in October. Cases would be even higher if the state opened at that stage, even with the expected 70 per cent single-dose vaccine coverage.
The author of this model, Chris Billington, warned about relying on the current Reff rate of 1.9, with most modellers perplexed why the Victoria numbers were growing so quickly…
“Hard to keep claiming high numbers are temporary outliers when they’re happening more often than not, but my gut still says a Reff near 2 is not realistic,” Mr Billington tweeted.
Whereas Deakin University chair of Epidemiology Catherine Bennett noted:
“We haven’t yet been able to stabilise our (Victoria’s) Reff to the 1.3 level NSW managed for a long time,” Professor Bennett said.
“By nearly doubling cases every four days (in fact we are sitting a bit higher than that now), we will hit 1000 cases a day in three weeks.”
Below are the Reff rates for NSW and Victoria:
Meanwhile, GPs are warning of a case explosion as outbreaks hit least-vaccinated Melbourne suburbs, with migrant communities and the elderly unwilling to get the jab:
The local government area of Hume in Melbourne’s north has the highest number of active coronavirus infections in Victoria, but it also has the lowest percentage of its eligible population fully vaccinated…
More than a quarter of Victoria’s 1786 active COVID-19 cases are in Hume…
Doctors in Melbourne’s northern suburbs, including Hume GP John Hodgson, who runs a respiratory and vaccine clinic in Coolaroo, said it was not just a shortage of doses hampering the immunisation rollout.
The veteran GP said efforts were also being thwarted by high levels of vaccine hesitancy, including among migrant communities and the elderly, who were shunning the vaccine amid concerns about side effects.
Dr Hodgson said there were still entire families resisting the vaccine in Hume.
“We are all really fearful that there will be an explosion of cases in the northern suburbs in the coming weeks,” Dr Hodgson said.
“There remains a huge concern around conspiracy theories that are circulating by word of mouth.”
Certainly, plotting Victoria’s daily cases against NSW’s shows an alarming trend:
Despite Victoria’s smaller population, daily COVID cases are running ahead of NSW’s at the same point in their outbreak.
The deteriorating situation in Victoria may explain why Premier Daniel Andrews has begun staunchly attacking the federal government’s allocation of COVID-19 vaccine doses, which has so far prioritised NSW, claiming it has prevented his state’s lockdown from ending sooner.
Andrews needs a scapegoat, given Melbourne on 23 September will take the mantle as the world’s most locked down city (235 days) from Buenos Aires.
If the virus is still spiraling out of control, Melburnians will grow increasingly angry.