A Covid addendum

The Grattan Institute’s Stephen Duckett has described (The Conversation 26/8) what Scott Morrison is not telling us about when he says he has a plan to allow us to get on with our lives.

Duckett says that “In identifying the vaccination coverage target for the transition to Phase B, Doherty’s experts assumed that testing, tracing, isolation, and quarantine (TTIQ), would be central to maintaining lower case numbers.”

The experts highlighted two scenarios in terms of testing-tracing-isolation-quarantine capacity – an “optimal” scenario and a “partially effective” scenario. It is summarised in the table below.

 Doherty Institute modelling outcomes

TTIQ = testing, tracing, isolation, and quarantine. This assumes an all adults vaccination allocation strategy. Doherty Institute

Meanwhile 60% of NSW’s ICU capacity is taken up with Covid patients and cases in the State are now in four figure daily territory.

On the other hand, the latest Resolve polling research, published in The Age (26/8), apparently suggests Morrison is bouncing back and the public is supportive of the let us get on with our lives approach.

However, in the first case the Resolve conclusion is based on a three percentage point movement while also admitting that 27% of voters were undecided –  enough for a massive landslide either way.

In the second case respondents are being aspirational about lockdowns end without being told precisely what getting on with our lives mean.

In the Doherty scenario that means 58 deaths a week at a vaccination rate of 70% of Australians aged over 16 and about 15,000 cases a week.

At 80% the weekly death rate comes down to 37 and the infection rate to 10,600 a week.

What the ICU admittance situation will be is impossible to know. But what does seem clear is that the current UK and Israeli situations are consistent with the Doherty modelling and could be considered a worst case scenario.

So perhaps, in this year of the 700th anniversary of Dante’s death, it’s worth remembering the first lines of Canto 1 of the Inferno.

Midway upon the journey of our life
I found myself within a forest dark,
For the straightforward pathway had been lost.

Ah me! how hard a thing it is to say
What was this forest savage, rough, and stern,
Which in the very thought renews the fear.

Dante’s Comedy ends (for Christians like Scott Morrison at least) on a brighter note. But whichever, lost in the forest or relying on the light of God, an early election still seems problematic.