When the pandemic hit Australia, after a while, the state governments started having daily pressers at which they gave the number of Covid-19 cases and the number of deaths. In New South Wales, these continued until early September, 2021, when then premier Gladys Berejiklian cancelled them1. Victoria cancelled their daily Covid-19 press conferences at the end of October, 20212, and the Australian Capital Territory stopped their daily Covid-19 press conferences from the middle of October, 20213. These were cancelled because of a generally agreed ‘need’ to take attention away from the case numbers, as vaccination rates rose to fairly high levels. At that time, Australia had 64% of the whole population (not just of those eligible) fully vaccinated (two doses) and another 10% partly vaccinated4.
Before vaccines became available, Australia had two main waves of Covid-19 infection, the first peaked in late March-early April 2020 at almost 400 cases and 4 deaths per day. The second wave peaked in August 2020 with about 550 cases per day and over 20 deaths a day5. After vaccines arrived in Australia in early 20216, there were several small outbreaks here and there, but the major outbreak peaked in mid-October 2021 when there were about 2,300 cases and 15 deaths a day. That wave started to fade, but never really disappeared such that by late November, 2021, cases were down to about 1,200 per day and deaths below 10 per day5. By the end of 2021, Australia had recorded just over 395,000 Covid-19 cases and just over 2,300 deaths from the virus5. At that date 77% of all Australians had received two doses of a vaccine, while 3% had received only one dose4.
For the first two years of the pandemic Australia largely aimed to eliminate the virus with strict state and international border controls as well as strict, regular, lockdowns and mandates on gathering sizes and mask-wearing. This largely worked, with Australia’s per capita death rate being among the lowest in the world, at about 90 per million population. For comparison, at the same time the US, UK and Italy each had about 2,000 deaths per million population7.
As the pandemic ground on, the federal government decided that restrictions should start to be decreased when a state or territory had vaccinated 80 percent of its over-16 population (about 64% of the entire population). All states and territories achieved this in the final months of 20218 (see above).
Former Prime Minister Scott Morrison (that still feels good), said at a press conference in December, 2021, that “We have got to get past the heavy hand of government and we’ve got to treat Australians as adults. …We have to move from a culture of mandates to a culture of responsibility. That’s how we live with the virus into the future”9. So, what has happened since we moved to a culture of personal responsibility? It has been a disaster. Daily cases started to skyrocket in mid-December 2021, and reached a peak of 150,000 cases in a day on January 13th (with a seven-day moving average [SDMA] of just over 100,000 per day)5. And, sure enough, some 15 days later on January 28th (about the standard lag time10), Australia had its most lethal day of the whole pandemic, with 142 people dying5. Even the SDMA gave a peak death rate of about 92 people per day, far worse than any peak we had seen in the previous 2 years5.
This outbreak in January declined as quickly as it had risen, falling to some 23,000 cases per day in late February, with the lagging 22 deaths per day in mid-March. However, another broad double-peak was reached in early April to mid-May with the maximum of over 57,000 cases per day, with the death rate peaking at end of May with the SDMA of 52 deaths per day5. So, from just over 395,000 recorded cases of the virus in the first two years of the pandemic, Australia now has (at June 10th) 7,571,622 recorded cases. In addition, from just over 2,300 deaths in the first two years of the pandemic, Australia now has had 8,957deaths from the virus5. Where are the headlines trumpeting this disaster? Nowhere to be seen. What happened to the media? Just as they followed Morrison’s Novak Djokovic dead cat like a litter of puppies follow their human11, one can only assume that because the daily pressers relating numbers of Covid-19 cases and deaths ended late in 2021, the puppies in the media lost interest. After all, the Coalition government started talking about the ‘post-Covid recovery’, so the media presumably thought the pandemic was behind us. At the time, Morrison even tried to claim credit for the actions of the states in locking down and assorted mandates against which he railed at the time, which according to modelling, had saved 40,000 lives. He said: “Things are tough [but] 40,000 people are alive in Australia today because of the way we managed the pandemic, 700 thousand people still have jobs and countless numbers of businesses […] would have been destroyed”12. This was in the leadup to the federal election, so reality was not of concern.
The pandemic has not been managed, it was staved off by the actions of the states, in large part despite the actions of the Morrison government. As we approached the federal election, it became imperative that Morrison could claim credit for having ‘managed the pandemic’ (notice the past tense). The pandemic was deemed to be ‘over’ despite what was actually happening. This was done with the sole aim of getting Morrison re-elected. And the media lapped it up. The media do not seem to realise that journalism is writing stuff that those in power don’t want you to write. All else is public relations for those in power.
The reality is that 95% of Australia’s Covid-19 cases have occurred in the last five and a half months and 75% of Australians killed by Covid-19 have died in the last five and a half months. This pandemic is not anywhere near being over, and many more Australians are going to die because governments gave up, and because the media puppies lost interest.
We are not ‘post-Covid’; we are ‘post-care’. We are not in a recovery, we are in a cover-up.