Following the science in Australia

Department of “Surely coronavirus won’t be waiting for us after we emerge from our bunkers”. From Twitter:

Best headline: “Australia Almost Eliminated the Coronavirus by Putting Faith in Science” (Washington Post, November 5, 2020). From that article:

… unlike the Trump administration, which has criticized its primary infectious-disease adviser, Anthony S. Fauci, Hunt relied heavily on health experts from the start.

And for a time, it appeared Australia’s early success was imperiled, after lax security at hotels in Melbourne that were housing returned travelers led to a second outbreak in July. By August, more than 700 cases a day were diagnosed. It looked like Australia could lose control of the virus.

Almost all public life in Melbourne ended. After 111 days of lockdown, the number of average daily cases fell below five. On Oct. 28, state officials allowed residents to leave their homes for any reason.

Australia currently bans its citizens and residents from overseas travel, a decision that has been particularly tough on its 7.5 million immigrants.

Note that prevailing pandemic scientific wisdom prior to 2020 actually did support the idea that an isolated island with tight border controls might be able to delay or prevent infections via closing borders. See WHO guidance on pandemics then and now.

Readers: Will Australia and New Zealand be interesting case studies of what happens to countries where the plague arrives after nearly all of the old/vulnerable people are vaccinated?


  • “Covid in Sydney: Military deployed to help enforce lockdown” (BBC, July 30): “The lockdown – in place until at least 28 August – bars people from leaving their home except for essential exercise, shopping, caregiving and other reasons. Despite five weeks of lockdown, infections in the nation’s largest city continue to spread. Officials recorded 170 new cases on Friday.”

16 thoughts on “Following the science in Australia

  1. Australia and New Zealand are going to rename themselves Andaman and Nicobar.

    Yes they will be case studies in post-vaccination plague. But so will Singapore, with greater realism and competence, and an earlier reopening.

    Maskachusetts will also be an interesting case study. Much natural immunity came from the first wave, which will be approaching two years in age, and predates the Delta plague. Since then, vaccination will be second highest in the nation (after only Vermont). But vaccination was done in early spring, which is the worst time to vaccinate against a seasonal virus. What happens this winter?

  2. I’ve found this quote on another blog:

    “The problem with Australians is not that so many of them are descended from convicts, but that so many of them are descended from prison officers.”
    Clive James

    • I’m confused as to what the proposed mechanism is for ivermectin helping someone infected with coronavirus. Ivermectin is effective against parasites in dogs, but these parasites are complex multi-cellular creatures such as worms, e.g., heartworms that can be 30 cm long. Why would we expect ivermectin to work against a virus?

    • This one says:

      “Ivermectin; IVM (red block) inhibits and disrupts binding of the SARS-CoV-2 S protein at the ACE-2 receptors (green).”

      “Also, the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein binds to the CD147 on red blood cells and causes clumping. IVM in turn, binds to SARS-CoV-2 Spike protein and hence prevents clumping. ”

      But the conclusions of this paper are subject to criticisms, says the editor …
      I’m very much on the fence regarding this wonder drug.

    • Anonymous: Thanks for the quote. Given that the fatality rate from COVID-19 is so low, I think it would be tough to tease out the effect of a drug. Lately I have been hearing people say “Thank God that I got vaccinated. I got COVID and recovered after two or three days”. This might be someone age 20-40. He/she/ze/they does not reflect that most people his/her/zit/their age in the spring of 2020 would get COVID-19 and, if symptomatic at all, recover after 2-3 days.

    • Until I saw the word “Ivermectin” on this blog in associaton with someone else whose Name I had never seen before, I did even know what it WAS. Then I tuned into NPR and listened to what they thought about it.

    • @Alex
      I started out as just a French winter greeting, then became an indie-folk band from Wisconsin, and now I may or may not be an effective treatment for COVID-19.

      I haven’t completely made up my mind on Ivermectin per se. I think everyone should look at the evidence rationally for and against each possible treatment and mitigation strategy.

      My views are my own and not Philip’s.

    • @Bon: I wasn’t referring to you, but thanks anyway. I still don’t know much about it. But I will say that given the fact we have now changed the story so radically on vaccines from just a few months ago, I find it very insulting that places like NPR and Rachel Maddow on MSNBC are throwing stones at their favorite “stupid Deplorables” targets, because the President of the United States told us that when he was elected the pandemic would END once we got those vaccines into people arms. So what are THEY SUPPOSED TO THINK and how can anyone blame them for being CONFUSED?

    • Ivermectin? What happened to Hydroxychloriquine? The right wingnuts are so desperate to prove the establishment and the experts wrong they’ll literally believe and put faith into anything, the more nonsensical and absurd, the better.

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