Wave 3 Is Where the Covid-19 War Will be Won or Lost
Posted on July 29, 2020
The phrase “Covid-19 Wave 2” is now official in Australia. It began in the south-eastern State of Victoria three weeks ago as a result of allegedly negligent community transmission of the virus through security breaches in the hotel quarantining of returned overseas travellers. Victoria is reaping the impact of Covid-19’s Reproduction Number—its R0—a figure I wrote about in March.
Covid-19 is as close to a sloppily efficient biological weapon as they come. It punishes societies without tight population controls, meaning the Free World. Each case can potentially infect 2-6 other people. Victoria’s Wave 2 came with an R0 above 2.
The State’s chief health officer is hoping for an R0.5. Only in that way can 500 daily infections halve and halve repeatedly, to maybe 0. To achieve this, the State has chosen a twin methodology—a partial lockdown of its capital city and suburbs, and the mandatory wearing of face masks.
Three weeks into this six-week shutdown, Victoria is nowhere near its goal. It has to get that R0 below 1 or daily infections will plateau until new cases accumulate into the tens of thousands.
Australia—A nation without a Covid war plan
As I write, I’m listening to Australia’s former chief medical officer, Brendan Murphy, at a prime ministerial press conference speaking about the way Victoria’s Wave 2 is decimating its elderly, particularly in aged care nursing homes.
But he’s just expressed a breakthrough in his understanding of Covid-19 that’s taken him four months to realise (we can’t forget in March, that the professor told the country shaking hands was completely safe under Covid-19).
Just now, Professor Murphy said this:
It’s the community transmission that’s caused this problem.
Finally, officially, Australians have now been told how this war can be won.
But is the prime minister listening?
You have to eradicate Covid-19 to build a post Covid-19 economy. Yet, Australia’s prime minister, Scott Morrison, is still living in denial. Wave 2 is here, in Australia’s second-most populous State. Other States are beginning to feed from it. Wave 2 is by no means under control.
Thing is, as every military leader knows, it’s not what the enemy is doing now that matters. It’s what the enemy is capable of doing next, that dictates a winning strategy.
So, the question is whether a Wave 3 will be coming—and what we can do to beat it? That’s the determinate of not just Australia’s economic future—but the prime minister’s own.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison hasn’t yet caught up. Putting it in terms of WW2 he’s still thinking of invading Italy whose campaign proved a deadly fiasco, when the most direct route to victory lay on the roads from the beaches of France into the heart of Germany. D-Day.
Taking back the podium from Professor Murphy, here’s what he just said with a small grin:
I think that’s very sensible that you limit the movement of people out of outbreak zones. And I support that very strongly. That is the basis, the position that I’ve been advancing the States and the Territories from the outset. I talked about the need (adding emphasis) for testing, tracing and managing outbreaks. That is how you manage the pandemic and you keep your economy running.
No, no, no. He’s still focused on fighting “outbreaks”. A few weeks ago, he called them “hot zones” when that was the groupthink.
But fighting outbreaks will not win this war. Only preventing outbreaks will.
What the prime minister can’t fathom is that when it comes to a pandemic, a country only has one target community. For Australia it’s Australia. State borders mean nothing to a virus with an R2-6. Only national quarantines do. We know this, because Australia is one of the few countries in the world that’s staved off rabies for centuries.
It’s hard to change the mind of a politician who measures legacy by a budget surplus
So, there’s a disconnect in Australia’s leadership. Covid-19 has matured enough now, to offer copious lessons for those willing to learn.
It’s shown its capacity as a conqueror of nations who’ve put economics—or dictatorship—before lives. In other words, it’s killing those countries who’ve opened their communities too early.
The United States of America is a disaster. Brazil is a grave. And Europe by way of Spain and Germany are in flight—reinfected again having re-started international travel for the sake of tourism. Britain’s turn is around the corner.
The United States of America has printed close to USD $1T of new treasuries to finance a shamble of a Covid-19 response. Its Senate is fussing over another $1T while total US debt at $27T remains a burden for generations.
Yet, Australia is proud that it’s minted a bare $200B while its economy remains unidimensional—a mine?
Pre-Covid, Australia’s economy too, was a mess. Stripped of a proud vehicle manufacturing industry that fed into so many goods and services streams we forget that Australia’s retail sector and dollar were in retreat.
But as the prime minister just said—in the middle of this health catastrophe—he’s now focused on September talks with Trump in the USA, because they’ve both just discovered that China has been terraforming the South China Sea.
How do you convince a prime minister with a mindset like that, that not a single human life is worth losing to protect an already broken economy?
Eradication is the key—Have we waited too long?
Indeed, the former chief medical officer confirmed the formula for defeating Covid-19. It’s a truth for every nation too.
Stop community transmission.
We can begin eradicating Covid-19 today in readiness for its Wave 3 by finally putting Australia at war. By declaring that “managing outbreaks” is not a cohesive strategy for beating a pandemic.
That can only be achieved through a stratagem invoking a hard lockdown of the Australian economy for at least 2 months.
Look, we could have been done with it by now.
I wrote here in March, that simple social distancing would fail. I wrote how the “phased” re-opening of Australia would be a mistake when all we needed to do was wait for the lessons that Trump’s re-opening would give us. But the prime minister ignored it all.
He cheered each of his “Phase X” announcements: of crowd numbers increasing; of bars and eateries re-opening; of theatres and cinemas airing shows—and of course, of sport. Rugby. Crowds at stadiums. He waved a colour-coded PowerPoint showing off these phase lines as if gospel anew.
It has of course, all failed.
Victorians are confused. Babies, children, twenty-somethings, the middle-aged and the elderly are infected. Businesses and schools are closed. Queensland today shut its border to the entirety of Sydney; Western Australia is dreading having to open its borders to the High Court machinations of a Queensland mining magnate whose current claim to fame is an investment in hydroxychloroquine.
Rather than declaring war on Covid-19, Australia has declared war on itself.
It’s time for our political leaders to realise that like Winston Churchill, leading a nation into war will take courage and will not necessarily guarantee re-election. But this is their time.
The only thing to do to prevent a Covid-19 Wave 3, is to close Australia to all but essential industries; to fund the unemployed during this time; to eradicate Covid-19 by keeping Australia’s international borders closed to the general public; and to run all international-arrival quarantines through a federal crisis team.
Put another way, the only thing to do is to keep Australians Covid-free, so that Australia—the island continent—can once again commute without fear, do business without fear, work without fear, and consume without fear. To rebuild itself from within.
The Chess move after that comes when a treatment or vaccine arrives.
Every well-taught school kid knows that an economy is not an artificial “thing”. It’s a community of people bartering with each other for scarce goods and services influenced by the best of intents. That’s Adam Smith and Milton Friedman in one.
An economy is made up of living people. The goal of beating Covid-19 is keeping people alive.
Start now. So much time and life have already been squandered that could have seen it gone.
© 2020 Adam Parker.