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Review of West Australian pandemic response cements extreme Covidian measures as permanent public health policy
A 'blueprint' for the next pandemic
The independent review of the West Australian Government’s pandemic response is complete, with the resultant report being released yesterday.
(By independent review, I mean a review conducted by people hand selected by the McGowan Government to assess the performance of the McGowan Government.)
TLDR: The human rights abuses and historically high vax adverse event reporting rate were worth it to combat a virus with an IFR on par with the flu. What a success. Mistakes were made but there is no need to dwell - we will use this experience to build back better for the next pandemic, which is surely around the corner. Everyone deserves a medal.
The WA Government’s announcement of the report is characteristically self-aggrandising and tells us a lot about how our political class measures success, and its plans for our future.
Excerpts from Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson’s comments:
"Western Australia performed extraordinarily well during the pandemic thanks to the State Government's response, the hard work of our healthcare workers and the co-operation of the WA public.”
ALT: With strongman leadership, essential worker elbow grease, and a compliant public - we’re all in this together.
"Over the pandemic WA Health had more than 1,900 COVID vaccination clinics, including community, pop-up, in-reach and school clinics, delivering a total of 2.6 million vaccination doses.
"WA stood up COVID testing clinics across the State, and at the height of our response, we had 220 contact tracers working around the clock.
"These important safeguards helped ensure Western Australia had one of the best responses to COVID-19 in the world."
Here, the Health Minister tabulates success in terms of resources allocated, and projects executed. This is a uniquely bureaucratic lens to apply to measuring the success of a public health response.
Excerpts from the comments of recently installed Premier Roger Cook:
"Our world-leading response has provided a blueprint on how to handle future pandemics.
ALT: When we go again - and we will go again - we will refer to the unprecedented, authoritarian, ineffective Covid policies as our blueprint. Welcome to your new normal.
"The independent review confirms WA delivered some of the best economic, health and social outcomes in Australia.
"WA was nearly COVID-zero during the first two years of the pandemic and our COVID-19 fatality rate of 0.074 per cent was the lowest of all the States and Territories.”
Best in Australia - that’s a low bar. Cook’s claims are presumably based on modelling of hypothetical lives saved, ignoring the excess deaths, cost of living crisis, rising inflation, seemingly endless waves of #covidisnotover variants, an astronomical rate of reported vaccine injuries, social disruption, the opportunity cost of resource allocation to pandemic measures, and any other number of knock-on effects of the policies that Cook credits with delaying the inevitable spread of the virus tor two years.
The failure of Cook and Sanderson to account for costs and harms is baked into the scope of the review, which did not include “a detailed or forensic assessment of the WA Government’s COVID-19 response,” but rather focused on the tasks of historical record keeping and investigating “what worked well and what could be improved upon” for the purposes of making recommendations for next time.
The review panel received over 900 submissions and has made 35 recommendations.
The most encouraging recommendation is, "Review and consider trade-offs and broader risk appetite when making decisions on public health and social measures" (#26).
Other recommendations include:
Vaccine mandates here to stay (#30)
Install a Vaccine Commander to push for vax uptake in ‘priority groups’ (#11)
More equitable access to testing (#7)
Grants payment processes to be sped up (#25)
Better comms (#30, #31)
Schools to stay open (#35)
Better mental health support (#23)
Combat misinformation (This gives me images of Mark McGowan copping a sharp uppercut for telling us that vaccinated people were “less likely to be carrying or able to pass on the virus.”) (#31)
In my opinion, what’s in the rest of the 106 page document is fairly unimportant.
The significance of the review is to cement the unprecedented pandemic response as the new normal. This review legitimates human rights abuses, unsafe medical programs, and drastic government overreach as acceptable under prescribed circumstances.
No one except a handful of obsessives will read the full report. The WA Government has packaged their take for the press with a heavy focus on vaccine education and combatting vaccine misinformation:
“In addition, the review recommends a new State-wide campaign is developed to tackle vaccine misinformation and disinformation to ensure the community is safe and prepared for future threats to public health.
“The WA Government will now undertake to develop the campaign to educate and inform the public of the importance of vaccines and counter the misinformation causing confusion and distrust. This also led to the corresponding decline in the rate of some vaccinations in the community – most concerningly regarding childhood vaccinations.”
We will now see yet more resources poured into ‘education’ programs to convince people not to believe their lying eyes. Misinformation disseminated by government officials is unlikely to be targeted in this campaign. Calls for censorship and further vilification of vaccine-refusers are inevitable.
Concerningly, the panel recommends that future vaccine mandates should be informed by the Coronavax project, led by Dr Katie Atwell at the University of Western Australia (#30). Atwell is a strong proponent of unethical medical mandates and has authored papers on how governments can best coerce hesitators and refusers into vaccination (two shockers here and here - table below showing “coerced acceptor” as a vaccination status category from second link).
This recommendation appears to be driven almost entirely by the concerns of the corporate and political classes. The review panel noted that more than 70 per cent of public submissions addressed vaccine mandates, which levied “substantial criticism.” However, the panel weighed the concerns of the majority of the public against input from stakeholder groups who “praised” the mandates (big business loves certainty and perceived risk minimisation) and senior government officials who were of the view that, “imposing a mandate was a tough decision, but nonetheless warranted in terms of prioritising the safety of Western Australians.”
Will of the people, be damned. West Australians, you’ve been warned.
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Further insight into Katie Atwell’s outlook via Madhava Setty’s Substack, An Insult to Intuition. ‘From the Belly of the Beast... I attended the 23rd World Vaccine Congress in Washington DC. This is what I saw and heard...’
I attended a session titled “Let’s Talk Shots” where Daniel Salmon, Ph.D., presented the work being done at Johns Hopkins Institute for Vaccine Safety.
“LetsTalkShots is designed to support vaccine decision-making. It shares engaging animated content based on a person’s questions or concerns.”
Suffice it to say that there is a lot of thought, money and energy behind the campaign to vaccinate the public. The approach once again is around targeted messaging, which acknowledges that different people need to hear different types of information.
Attwell also presented to the same audience. In this forum, she pointed out that the U.S. government was more tolerant of the vaccine-hesitant than in her country. She suggested that our religious and philosophical exemptions should be eliminated entirely. Only the strictest medical exemptions should be permitted. This will lead to better outcomes.
After her talk, I approached her. She looked up as if she had been expecting me to ask her some questions. I asked her if she would be willing to have a more open conversation about her research and opinions. She was.
I let her know that I thought she was smart enough to realize that I was, in fact, a vaccine skeptic. She nodded her head.
“So,” I said, “the number one disinformation spreader may be running for President of the United States. What do you think should be done?”
She smiled uncomfortably and said, “Yes, it’s going to be hard to keep him from getting oxygen.”
In other words, her proposed approach to suffocate the anti-vax spokespersons becomes much harder when they are running for the highest office in the land. I thought she might be willing to reconsider her strategy. She wasn’t.
I tried a different approach. I explained that in my investigation, I haven’t found enough evidence that the COVID-19 mRNA shots were safe or effective, however, I was open to the possibility that the mRNA platform may eventually prove to be a powerful way to create therapies that are safe and effective in the future.
What good would it be to have this technology if half of the public no longer trusts it or the people who are shoving it down their throats while denying them an opportunity to debate them?
“Yes. That’s a good point.”
I told her that in this country, doctors are unwilling to write religious or philosophical exemptions to COVID-19 vaccines for fear of backlash. Many employers won’t accept them anyway, so her position is moot.
“Yes. That’s true.”
I asked her what would be a cause for a medical exemption. She didn’t know. I explained that medical exemptions are considered valid ONLY if the person has evidence of a prior reaction to an mRNA vaccine or to one or more of the ingredients in them. Nobody but a handful of people on the planet knows what exactly is in these things.
How would a doctor (or anyone else) know whether a given person was at an increased risk for an untoward event?
“I don’t know.”
I asked her if she was aware of the evidence of medical fraud around the Pfizer vaccine trials. She said she read something about it a while ago but didn’t think it was important.
Finally, I asked her why she thought vaccinating everyone was the right thing to do.
“Vaccination rates in my country are higher than in yours and we fared better.”
But there are countries whose vaccination rates are much lower than both countries and mortality rates are even lower. How could she explain that? She couldn’t.