COVID’s back: some thoughts on the last month

Not too long ago, I wrote about the vaccination situation. Since then, the small outbreak in Melbourne which provoked me to write that article has evolved into something far greater. Sydney has spent over a month in a lockdown which is showing no signs of slowing any time soon.

The impacts have spread beyond Sydney, too, with intermittent lockdowns occurring all across the country. Indeed, I’m just about to emerge from two weeks of home quarantine after being exposed to a COVID-19 case, something I’ll touch on more in a bit.

Like many Australians, the past two months have left me with far more questions than answers, and the failures of respective governments are really starting to shine through. I suspect, finally, that the magnitude of these failures is reaching through to mainstream Australia.

AstraZeneca — are we really still arguing about this?

It really does seem quite strange to me that Queensland’s Chief Health Officer, Dr Jeannette Young, continues to cast doubt on the AstraZeneca vaccine, given the present circumstances surrounding Delta.

At the end of June, Dr Young stated that “[she doesn’t] want an 18-year-old in Queensland dying from a clotting illness who, if they got COVID, probably wouldn’t die”. In the context of fighting the original strain of the virus, I’d probably accept Dr Young’s argument.

But we’re not fighting the original strain of COVID-19. 2020 left us eight months ago. Delta’s here now, and it’s a whole different beast.

In light of that, I really do think it’s time Dr Young consider the advice she’s providing to younger people around AstraZeneca, as the vast majority of the other state and federal CHO/CMOs have done.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t by any means dislike Jeannette Young. I think that she’s largely handled the pandemic quite well in Queensland, and is an excellent choice to be the next governor of the state. I just think she’s missed the mark on this particular matter.

If you’re over 18, just go get the damn thing. The quicker you do, the quicker we can all be free from all of this.

Queensland’s contact tracing… fail?

To bring things closer to home, and to return to a point mentioned earlier in this article: almost two weeks ago I was at a close-contact exposure site.

How did I find this out? Not from Queensland Health, that’s for sure. No, as a matter of fact, the discovery I’d been at an exposure site was thanks to The Courier-Mail — thanks, guys.

By way of full transparency, I was able to read an official communication from Queensland Health which was forwarded to me by a related person who was also at the site but associated with the host venue. So there was at least some degree of communication from Queensland Health to some impacted individuals.

Either way, here I am. Over a week and a half later — despite my fastidious use of the Check In Qld app — I’m yet to be contacted by Queensland Health. Based on this article, it seems others have had the same experience.

I’m in no doubt that the contact tracers are doing their best, and their efforts are clearly working, given the speed with which we toppled the latest outbreak. Nonetheless, I’d suggest it’s pretty lucky that we’ve not had a bigger outbreak requiring greater contact tracing.

Inoculation incentivisation

In a departure from the norm, Anthony Albanese actually managed to insert himself into the news cycle last week, by proposing a $300 payment to incentivise vaccinations.

Great idea, Albo.

Wait… what… did he say incentivisation?

What is the point of providing financial incentives right now when we are still waiting for an adequate supply of vaccines for the entire population. Doesn’t it make sense to vaccinate the willing before attempting to solve an issue that may not even present itself?

Don’t get me wrong, a $300 handout sounds lovely, but at a projected cost of $6 billion, it’d come at no insignificant cost to the Australian economy. It just seems rather premature to me.

Let’s circle back to this one in 6 months.

Vaccination — don’t get me started

I’m 16-years-old, and I was fully vaccinated by the end of June. Not because I’m in a priority group, but because I secured a surplus dose of vaccine by walking in at a clinic.

The reality remains, though, that most people my age have not had the luxury of being able to access the vaccine, and are now left totally unprotected from the virus; a virus that has now evolved to be more transmissible among and harmful to children than before.

Kids are the new superspreaders. The recent Queensland outbreak is absolute proof of that.

We’re still not vaccinating fast enough, despite the outbreak-driven increase in New South Wales. It’s just not good enough.

Final thoughts

Australia is at a crossroads right now. For the first time since the beginning of last year, a redesign of how we approach the virus has become necessary. The current situation in NSW has occurred, in large part, I believe, as a result of utter complacency regarding the changing nature of the virus.

To fight Delta, we need a new, clear national strategy. We need to stay one step ahead, or we risk losing everything we’ve achieved in the fight against this virus so far.

In the end, despite the present setbacks, the light at the end of the tunnel remains in sight. The way the US and UK are now living relatively freely, thanks to mass vaccination, should serve as an encouragement to us all.

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