LET'S DECLARE A PANDEMIC RECKONING
Reflecting on the Covid policies of the Australian and UK governments
Australia and the UK stayed fairly well in lockstep throughout the pandemic response, though Australia was more extreme on some counts. From aggressive lockdowns, to banning early treatments, masking protocols and vaccine mandates, our governments threw their pandemic protocols out the window for a new, untested approach. So just how wrong were they?
Dystopian Down Under (Australia) and The Stark Naked Brief (UK) have teamed up to count the ways. Over the coming weeks we will be deep diving into the details, issue by issue. This post will be updated with links to the more in-depth topical posts as we go along.
What is the point of this exercise? People are sick of hearing about Covid, and sifting through the minutia can be as excruciating as it is vindicating.
Yet, to simply move on without taking stock of the mistakes, the harms and the ongoing damage would be foolish. History is a great teacher. An inventory must be taken, learnings must be noted and actions must be taken to ensure that we never stumble down this path again.
To readers who may be wondering what we’re talking about - was it really that bad? Yes, it was. Really bad.
An independent review1 published last month found Australia’s Covid response to be excessive, particularly in regard to school closures, lockdowns and border closures. A cost benefit analysis2 by think tank Institute of Public Affairs found that 37 x more life years were lost than were saved as a result of lockdowns, and that thus far, Australia’s Covid response has cost almost 1 trillion dollars. Another cost benefit analysis,3 by UNSW economist Gigi Foster, found that the costs of Australia’s Covid lockdowns have been at least 68 x greater than the benefits they delivered.
An official government enquiry into the UK Covid response is underway, but it is yet to examine administrative governance and decision-making. The HART group4 calls the UK lockdowns, “the greatest policy failure in modern history,” finding that the costs of lockdowns exceeded any plausible estimate of the benefits many times over. UK news site The Daily Mail produced their own cost benefit audit of lockdowns. Their research team estimated that, for every day that Britain remained in lockdown, the national debt rose by £1 billion. As early as July 2020, a report5 by the Department for Health and Social Care found that the negative health impacts from lockdowns were greater than direct COVID-19 deaths, indicating that the UK government was aware of the net negative impacts of lockdowns before the next lockdown was enforced in XXX 202X.
In short, not only did the Covid responses of the Australian and UK governments not work as hoped, they caused damage of epic proportion: economic, social, and to the health and wellbeing of individual citizens.
During the past two and a half years, the mainstream media have gushed effusively over the efforts taken by our respective governments. Journalists have reported uncritically for the most part, as though their job was to reprint government press releases, always appended with a plea to get vaccinated (the sole solution to a circulating respiratory virus). They have sought to justify the government overreach and to excuse the failures, whilst remaining silent on the harms. They have perpetuated the use of the misnomer “anti-vax”, weaponising it as a pejorative to tar and feather dissidents and to shut down democratic debate. Taken in entirety, this behaviour from marquee outlets signals a complete abandonment of the Fourth Estate mandate, which is to hold truth to power so that the people may be protected from their government.6
Such dereliction of duty on the part of the media leaves it to independent journalists, niche publications and citizen bloggers to perform a hard task with limited resources and reach.
The task is to provide the balance of what is not reported in the mainstream media. To give voice to those who are silenced and suppressed. To sift through the flow of information to determine what needs to be added to the agenda that has been set by the main instruments of the propaganda machine. To apply a critical lens to said propaganda. To hold truth to power.
So here is the truth of the Covid response. This list will be updated as new information comes to light.
They were wrong to flout the ethical primacy of valid consent, coercing the population into a medical experiment.
They were wrong to force vaccine mandates on the public – for a vaccine that does not prevent infection or transmission.
They were wrong to spend billions of tax payer dollars on rushed vaccines, PPE and tests, then throw astronomical amounts away.
In fact, the cost of the Covid response as a whole was obscene and wasteful beyond belief… They were wrong to spend so much money for so little gain, when those resources could have been diverted towards saving and improving far more lives than they did.
They were wrong to push vaccination on the younger population, who were never at serious risk from Covid and who stood the greater risk of harm from the Covid vaccines.
They were wrong to say that myocarditis is mild and temporary.
They were wrong to mask school children, which failed to stop the virus, but succeeded in causing developmental delays, health concerns and social anxiety.
They were wrong to marginalise and demonise a small, principled minority of constituents, stoking division and hate.
They were wrong to divert policing resources away from important duties, and towards petty enforcement of absurd and draconian Covid rules.
They were wrong to divert important healthcare funding and resourcing to endless testing and associated activities for a virus with a >99.5% survival rate7, causing important surgeries and health screenings to be cancelled.
They were wrong to dismiss valid concerns over vaccine effectiveness and safety, especially in light of the fact that mRNA vaccines had never before been (provisionally) approved and rolled out to the population at large, and in the absence of medium or long term safety studies.
They were wrong to use alarmist modelling as basis for their extreme Covid response measures.
They were wrong to enforce vaccination passports, which did not stop the spread and which only served to hamper businesses, infringe on civil rights, and marginalise people for their health choices.
They were wrong to isolate the old and infirm, leaving many to die alone while their anguished loved ones begged to be allowed inside, to no avail.
They were wrong to assure pregnant and lactating women of the safety of the vaccines, when the appropriate research had not been conducted for this cohort.
They were wrong to ban or limit access to early treatments, instead pushing vaccination as the single magic bullet solution.
They were wrong to engage nudge units to manipulate the population into receiving an experimental medical procedure.
They were wrong to demonise protestors, to ignore them, to brutalise them and even suspend the right to protest.
They were wrong to make obtaining compensation for vaccine injury so difficult and delayed.
They were wrong when they said that mRNA clears the body within a few days and when they said it cannot affect the recipient’s DNA.
They were wrong. They caused immense harm. They owe the public heartfelt apologies and restitution.
Children learn, at a young age, that when you harm others you must apologise. It doesn’t matter whether you meant to cause harm, the fact is that you did, and that you simply must say sorry, and try never to do that again.
Shifting blame is juvenile. We do not allow 5 year olds to get away with it.
We demand of our leaders that they do better than 5 year olds.
The apologies should be forthcoming, sincere, and detailed. Our leaders should demonstrate that they appreciate the depth and depravity of the harm that they have inflicted on us. They should tell us how they intend to do better, and they should take action to make sure they NEVER do this to us again.
An amnesty will not do. Cries of ‘but we were just doing what we could with the information at hand’ are unacceptable. You simply cannot be THAT wrong, that many times without there being serious error in the outlook, culture and processes of our political elite and institutions.
Regardless, no matter what doom the alarmist modelling broadcast, no matter what promise The Science™️ foretold of magic bullet solutions, there was never an acceptable argument for enacting such harsh, authoritarian measures at the expense of the civic rights of citizens, and of the most foundational principles on which our purportedly democractic societies are build.
It starts with sorry.
There is plenty more that needs to come after sorry, mind you. There needs to be a reckoning.
Fault Lines: An independent review into Australia’s response to COVID-19, October 2022. Funded by the Paul Ramsay Foundation, the Minderoo Foundation and the John and Myriam Wylie Foundation, the report offers a comprehensive and independent review of Australia’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. The review covers many, though not all aspects of the response. Main findings: key groups were excluded from financial support; some lockdowns and border closures were avoidable; and schools should have remained open. The report is critical of government overreach and concludes that low socio-economic families, women, children, aged care residents, people with disabilities, temporary migrants, multicultural communities, and others already experiencing disadvantage bore the brunt of the pandemic.
Hard Lessons: Reckoning the social, and humanitarian costs of zero-covid, September 2022. Main findings: Australia’s March-April 2020 lockdowns cost 37 x more life years were lost than were saved; Australia’s Covid response has cost $934.8 billion; students suffered learning setbacks due to school closures; other social and wellbeing factors were not considered in the government response (decline in mental health, decline in community, decline of physical health and fitness). Read the DDU summary below.
Do lockdowns and border closures serve the “greater good”? A cost-benefit analysis of Australia’s reaction to COVID-19, August 2022. UNSW economist Gigi Foster uses WELLBYs as the unit of measurement to best capture and balance dollars, lives, life years and wellbeing. The author concludes,
“Choosing conservatively to exclude or under-estimate many costs, and to make generous estimates of benefits, I estimate the maximum benefits from Australia’s lockdown policies to be 343,800 WELLBYs, and the minimum costs from lockdowns to be 23.41 million WELLBYs. This indicates that the costs of Australia’s COVID lockdowns have been at least 68 times greater than the benefits they delivered. Because I make assumptions in this CBA that are extremely favourable to the government’s choice to pursue a lockdown strategy, the true ratio of costs to benefits of the Australian COVID lockdowns is likely to be greater than this.” (p.13)
The HART group is an independent collective of esteemed UK doctors, scientists, economists, psychologists and other academic experts.
Direct and Indirect Impacts of COVID-19 on Excess Deaths and Morbidity: Executive Summary, July 2020. This 188 page report goes into staggering detail to asses the net impacts of lockdowns using QUALYs as the unit of measurement. The report was produced by the Department of Health and Social Care, Office for National Statistics, Government Actuary’s Department and Home Office.
Acknowledging some exceptions, including GB News, Sky News, The Spectator and, very recently, News.com.au. The exceptions are so easy to identify because they departed so drastically from the main of the media coverage during this period.
Variation in the COVID-19 infection-fatality ratio by age, time, and geography during the pre-vaccine era: a systematic analysis, February 2022. Obviously, the average IFR is lower for children and young adults, increasing with age. This study reported on 2020 variants only. As Omicron is known to be less deadly, we can assume the real survival rate to be higher than 99.7%. Our World in Data warns that IFR is not a true representation of mortality risk, as many cases likely go unreported, suggesting that the IFR is again lower than shown in calculations based off official data.