Corona virus – Australian Economy vs Lives?

Wouldn’t it be awesome to kill Corona in Australia and be able to live again – even with harsh international borders and quarantine rules? But again, it only takes one infection in a crowded pub or club or restaurant or church, and we’re back in lockdown. A Corona sneeze at a football match? Forget it, that’s New York!

Professor Tony Blakely says quadrupling our ICU beds to 8000 could see us achieve “herd immunity” in October. This of course depends on the assumption that herd immunity works, and we can justify letting x number of people die!

OK, some Morbid Math!

What have I forgotten here?
Herd immunity requires 60% of 25 million Australians = 15 million for herd.

How many per day? Divide 15 million by 365 = 41,000 infections per day for a year. Ouch!

How many ICU beds is that? Some estimate that figures from other countries show that there are different ICU requirements in different countries. Some have tested more people and found more cases, driving down the ICU rate per person, while others haven’t had the tests on hand and just don’t know how many extra Corona cases are out there – artificially driving up the ICU per case number.

German data shows that the actual ICU rate may be as low as 1%. Let’s go with that, just for illustration purposes.

1% of 41,000 Coronavirus cases per day = 410 patients requiring ICU per day.
Now, how long is an ‘average’ ICU stay before they’re moved back into a more normal Covid isolation ward?
If we say a week, then 410 * 7 = 2870 Corona ICU beds for a year.
If we say a fortnight each it’s 5740 Corona ICU beds for a year.

A fortnight seems a bit long, as Boris was out of ICU in 5 days.

Anyway, so somewhere above Professor Blakely has a few different back-of-the-envelope assumptions, but whether it’s 8000 beds or 10,000 beds to get to herd immunity at double speed – that’s asking more of us Australians to get it, faster. It’s risking the curve getting out of control and turning into a deadly spike, overwhelming hospitals and forcing doctors to triage who lives and who dies.

Now, it’s all fun and games doing the Morbid Math. As long as it is in the abstract, as an idea with numbers. But when I look at my family – some of whom are high risk – I don’t want to subject them to that! I’d rather we kept lock down until we killed off Covid in Australia. A few weeks after we had zero cases reported, we could try opening up our domestic economy a little and seeing what happened. By then the health sector should have a lot more ICU beds and be better prepared. We can keep physical distancing. We can wash our hands, but basically start to get back to work, bit by bit, slowly ramping up our meeting numbers again. If we really have killed it off in Australia, then maybe we could get to the point where our island home was protected by strong quaratine rules for interational travellers, and we’re basically going gangbusters in the domestic economy!

But if it comes back? I don’t mind lockdown again, and trying to kill it off again. I don’t mind the idea of an intermittent “Yoyo” cycle of lockdown and infection, lockdown and infection – until we have a vaccine. What is national debt? Even if it takes a decade or more to pay back the debt – I don’t want to sacrifice any of my family on the altar of “The Australian Economy”. The economy serves us, not the other way around.

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