This pandemic will only be defeated when ordinary people do willingly what they should do, and for that to happen there has to be clarity in the advice. Wearing masks, staying home. This is the road we are on right now. There is a bigger question behind all this and that is: are we on the right road?
The federal government's chosen route seems to have been to close borders and try to eliminate the virus altogether. States and territories took the same approach. But we should get used to the idea that this virus cannot be eliminated, and that we have to build the herd resilience in order to live with it instead - as we do with flu.
In the 2019 flu season, there were 705 "influenza-associated deaths" in Australia - but nobody argues that the country should have been locked down so tightly that flu was eliminated. There is a balance to be struck between immediate health and the continuation of normal life - and of economic prosperity (and remember that a strong economy is one which can afford better healthcare).
Lockdowns deprive our children of education. This week our students will return to home schooling after a holiday locked down at home. In normal times, that would be a crisis. But Australia can't start living with the coronavirus until a substantial proportion of the population is vaccinated - and we are a long way from that. There should also be questions about why the health authorities were so severe in their qualms about the AstraZeneca vaccine.
A fascinating experiment is underway which we should watch very closely from our safe distance. On July 19, England (though not the other parts of the United Kingdom) will lift all restrictions.
"Freedom is in our sights once again!" the Health Minister told MPs. Time will tell.
The British government's calculation is that, with two-thirds of English adults having had two vaccinations, most people will be protected from severe COVID. But infections in Britain are running at the rate of more than 25,000 a day, with 20 deaths a day. On top of that, the curve is rising steeply. The British government will need nerves of steel. But if it works, it will show the future: mass vaccination and life with the virus.
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