To: The People of Australia
Re: A Sustainable Covid-19 Plan for Australia, Rev 2
Australia is in the midst of an economic crisis due to government actions designed to curtail the effects of the Covid-19 virus. At the same time, the Covid-19 epidemic in Australia is not solved. It is clear that the government measures taken to this point are unsustainable. There is no certainty of success and the price is unsustainably high.
The following is a well-intentioned proposal for a different approach to the problem which could see what’s left of the economy protected and provide a much better level of protection to the members of our society who are vulnerable to the virus.
It is necessary to take a more holistic view in which we do not expose up to 1 million people to one of life’s most serious traumas, the loss of their job or worse still their business for the sake of saving the lives of a few hundred people. It is disproportionate; however, this plan can save both sides of the question.
The tools to manage this problem are at our disposal, and Australians have the intelligence and the resources to do it.
This document, the Sustainable Covid-19 Plan, is a prototype plan which if picked up and fleshed out could become a world leading model for how to manage Pandemics while maintaining economic order.
We are already at a late stage in the government’s acts to solve this crisis, and the damage is both profound and not fully appreciated. For many individuals, it is tragic as they have seen their life’s work summarily discounted as not important enough to save.
The author is of the opinion that this crisis can be managed with appropriate government actions, each of which is only a stimulus to the economy. Instead of authoritarian lockdowns and fearful kneejerk reactions, the government could have acted to protect the vulnerable population with positive assistance.
For instance, it could have rapidly expanded hospital facilities all as economic stimulus. It just requires imagination and leadership.
But it’s never too late to change tack, especially when the current unsustainable plan is not working.
The essence of the plan is to identify and protect the vulnerable in society and to help them to isolate successfully. At the same time, to allow the virus to spread in a relatively controlled manner in the balance of society, each person having the freedom to choose whether they want to be protected or to live with the risk of infection. The Sustainable Covid-19 Plan proposes a ‘two speed system’ of both protected and unprotected communities.
1) The Basis of the Plan
The plan is based on a risk assessment which acknowledges the main risks at play in Australia as a result of the pandemic.
The main risks are premature deaths from Covid-19 infection, the risk of the collapse of the medical system, and the economic damage flowing from uncoordinated efforts to control the spread of the virus.
The plan suggests a systematic series of control measures which can reduce the impact of the risks to a level known in risk assessment language to be ‘Reasonably Practicable’.
To assess the risks, it is necessary to consider both the likelihood of the risk event and the degree of harm which may result. In this report both likelihood and degree of harm are considered, however, it is likely that a more detailed and more fully informed consideration is warranted.
A framework of control strategies is proposed in this report which could be the basis of more detailed work should the ideas attract interest.
The central idea of the proposed plan is a “two speed’ lifestyle in Australia, both a fully protected mode of living and a co-existing freer “business as usual” lifestyle.
2) The Risks at Play in the Covid-19 Pandemic
Arguably, the following lists of risks have an inherent hierarchy. In fact some risks flow from others, its really a chain of events, however, the risks are treated separately for the purpose of this report.
2.1 The risk of premature death from infection
This is the main risk that is given credence in risk management planning up to now.
It should be born in mind that the typical number of people who die every week of all causes in Australia is approximately 3,500 and a weekly suicide rate is 63. Since the beginning of the year until now 122,4000 people have died. So far in Australia 549 deaths have been attributed to Covid-19. Compared with other countries, our death rate is extremely low.
2.1.1 Deaths by age and Underlying condition
The following data was provided by New York City Health as of May 13, 2020:
The New York City data relates to 32,602 deaths recorded in the state of New York.
Deaths without known underlying condition
A graphical representation of the data assists with an understanding of the age and underlying condition risk.
This data is from deaths only and does not imply the proportion of the population which may die prematurely. An interpretation of the data is that 75% of deaths relate to known underlying conditions. Another observation is that children are relatively safe. This information is useful for when strategies for the control of risk are considered.
2.1.2 Probability of death once the virus is contracted
The following table relates to the probability of death if anyone were to contract the virus. The data depends upon a knowledge of the number of people who have been diagnosed with the virus and this is supposed to not be reliable, and therefore the numbers below are almost certainly overstated.
80+ years old
70-79 years old
60-69 years old
50-59 years old
40-49 years old
30-39 years old
20-29 years old
10-19 years old
0-9 years old
The percentages do not add up to 100%, because this the probability of death for each age group. These statistics are drawn from the whole world, and arguably Australian residents have health and medical treatment advantages that would reduce these probabilities.
The information is very useful when considering control strategies since they show the vulnerability of various age groups. These statistics include those with underlying conditions.
2.2 The risk of the collapse of the medical system in Australia
Australia has in the order of 4000 Intensive Care hospital beds, most of which are normally occupied with saving the lives of people whose lives are threatened by heart disease, trauma and other life-threatening conditions. The quality of 4000 is recently been expanded from a previous 2000.
The anticipated nightmare scene is that Australia needs more than 4000 ICU beds and that the medical system collapses under the weight. If we allocate 2000 ICU beds to Covid-19 and if it is true that roughly 5% of cases may need ICU support, Australia could support a maximum 40,000 active cases. This would also imply 8,000 people hospitalised, since 1 in 5 are expected to need hospitalisation.
Part of this risk is the risk of the disease to medical staff including orderlies, nurses, doctors and specialists. Many of these valuable staff have underlying conditions and are of an advanced age. It was reported that 100 doctors had died from this disease in Italy.
There is very mixed information available on the matter of immunity after recovery. The fact of recovery itself implies that a suitable immune response has taken place. Without an immune response, whether counted as antibodies or T-cells, a patient is consumed by the virus, internal organs break down and death is a surety. This would be true of all viruses, though clearly, viruses vary in aggression.
It is posited that Covid-19 is aggressive, deadly, highly infectious and does not engender a strong immune response. The question of immunity needs to be faced squarely. The medical profession does not seem to acknowledge or accept any immunity whatsoever. However, immunity, especially in medical workers, would be a real asset.
2.2.1 The risk of the reduced availability of medical testing for other than Covid-19
There is a risk to the healthcare of Australians from reduced availability of hospital services under the current pandemic medical arrangements. Most elective surgeries have been delayed, seemingly indefinitely. There is a significant reduction in screening for breast cancers and strokes to name just two. This can hardly bode well for the general health of Australians.
This is a serious risk with long term consequences including many premature deaths. It seems that a blind eye has been turned to this risk.
2.3 The risk of damage to business in Australia.
Australia has businesses of all sizes with revenues from 50 billion dollars down to 50 thousand dollars, a 10 million to 1 size range. But all businesses involve assets, employees and shareholders and every person needs to be cared for. Damage to business is damage to people because businesses are people.
Business is at risk to damage from Covid-19 control measures. Some businesses such as restaurants, hospitality, tourism and travel have been directly targeted and have become collateral damage in the effort to control the risk of death from Covid-19. Much of the workforce is now unemployed as businesses have become insolvent.
Almost all business is at risk from reduced consumer confidence.
The economy and government income are at risk due to the large numbers of unemployed.
The consequences of the stage 4 lockdown in Melbourne will reverberate for years. It is hard to see it as anything other than unwise. This is why we need a ‘Sustainable Covid-19 Plan’.
2.3.1 The risk of a wave of Suicides and domestic violence
Stress from the loss of a job or the loss of a business is a big challenge for anyone and can lead to mental health issues.
Before the Covid-19 crisis, suicide deaths were already running at about 8 per day. This figure has no doubt jumped due to the crisis; however, since it is not monitored in real time, confirming the numbers is hard. This recent article shows a 25% jump in suicides since Covid-19.
It is necessary to consider this risk when considering appropriate control measures.
To blithely ignore this risk as insignificant or a lesser risk than Covid-19 is to lack empathy for people.
2.4 Risk Matrix
The usual method of risk assessment is to consider both the likelihood and severity of each risk event.
From this consideration, a risk rating is determined.
After the initial risk assessment, a number of ‘Controls’ are proposed which are designed to reduce the risk to a level known as ‘As Low as Reasonably Practicable’ or ALARP.
Interestingly, it is possible to imagine a fatal outcome for almost any risky activity or event, which can make the severity of risk assessments to be ‘Catastrophic’ every time. But if we took this extreme attitude, we would never take any risk, and as a result we would not get much work done. Life would not be lived!
The following assessment is subjective and this plan would benefit for a more learned and detailed analysis.
2.4.1 Risk of Death
Consequence ~ Catastrophic (5)
Likelihood ~ Possible (3)
Total score: 15, an extreme hazard
2.4.2 Risk of collapse of the medical system
Consequence ~ Major (4)
Likelihood ~ Likely (4)
Total score: 16, an extreme hazard
2.4.3 Risk of damage to business and hence society
Consequence ~ Major (4)
Likelihood ~ Almost Certain (5)
Total score: 20, an extreme hazard
In the world of industrial health and safety, none of the risks is acceptable and we must ‘stop work’. In the case of the Covid-19 Pandemic, we must stop and reassess how best to control the risks.
It is the opinion of the author that risks should be reduced to moderate or low by the application of suitable controls.
2.5 Hierarchy of Risk Controls
The following standard list of controls is used in industrial safety to control risk.
It is hard to say what the current strategy to control the risks consists of. The following sections of this plan will spell out the control measures which would best achieve a more than satisfactory outcome.
Elimination is spoken of but denied to be the real strategy. This would involve eliminating the virus from Australia. This might be possible at great cost, but we could never open our borders again, so this option is not seriously considered herein.
Substitution is not an option in this situation. We have the virus, we cannot replace it.
Engineering Controls. As in ‘to Isolate the People from the Hazard’ is the main strategy of this plan. The idea is to properly isolate those people most at risk.
Administrative Controls. To change the way that people work. This is ongoing but is not a powerful enough strategy on its own and has collateral damage consequences.
Personal Protective Equipment. This has its place but is the last line of defence. It would be best not to need it, and under the Sustainable Covid-19 plan it would not be needed in most situations.
The following discussion will now concentrate on the ‘Engineering Controls’ which are proposed in this plan.
3) Engineering Controls
To isolate people from the hazard. The intention is to isolate those who are vulnerable. It may not be possible to identify all who are vulnerable, but the author posits that 90% could be identified and isolated and that this would reduce the problem to a manageable 10% of what it is now.
Some may say that we must protect all and resist this proposed plan for that reason. That is not to say that Australia would not make strenuous efforts to identify the vulnerable. The figure of 10% remaining is merely a working number for the purpose of discussing the plan.
3.1 The identification of those who are at risk
Under the proposed plan, people who are at risk will get special support to completely isolate them from the hazard of catching the virus.
Since considerable societal effort will be engaged to protect the vulnerable, the vulnerable will need to be identified, in fact certified to be at risk. This certification will be conducted by the medical profession based on the age, health and medical history.
Individuals will be formally declared to be at risk.
From the tables and graphs in paragraphs 2.1 it is clear an age of 80 years and older is a significant risk factor, as is any underlying condition. There are several obvious qualifying conditions.
- Immunodeficiency (HIV/AIDS)
- Under Chemotherapy
While a formal system is proposed, it is also proposed that the system be opt-in and opt-out. Those who want to live as High Risk can Opt-in. Those who want to live as Low Risk can opt out. It may well be advisable for people who have been assessed as high risk, but who want to live as low risk, to sign a release form to confirm that this is their choice.
Potentially, there would be levels of vulnerability which would determine the levels of isolation, though one level would be simpler to administer.
The plan has adopted a symbol to represent those at risk.
The symbol indicates that the virus is not tolerated here, at any level.
The measure is designed to remove as many as 95% of the vulnerable from the risk of infection.
The measure is designed to exclude 100% of the virus from protected places. It is a very strict elimination regime.
3.2 Isolation of those at Risk
Isolation will be created at every level:
- Personal level
- Household Level
- Institution Level
- Hospital Level
- Town and Locality Level
3.2.1 Town and Locality Level
It is proposed that certain towns and localities be designate Covid-Free Zones, and that this be taken very seriously. In fact, the virus will be eliminated from these zones.
It is proposed that country cities might be nominated. In NSW they could be places like Port Macquarie which already has a high retiree population and a good hospital. Port Macquarie is also separated from the highway and traffic does not need to pass through the locality. There may be several such localities nominated.
The localities would compete for the status. There would be advantages to the status as it would involve considerable government led investment in such things as temporary (or permanent) accommodation and medical facilities. This would be a designed isolated environment which would be active during the Covid-19 crisis and which may need to be reactivated for any future pandemics.
Some people would be inevitably inconvenienced by the measure. Some businesses would suffer; however, strenuous efforts would be made to help business to set up in a compatible manner. Some businesses may need to move out of the locality with government assistance or split into two parts, again with assistance.
The localities would have a special food supply system which would involve ‘contactless’ transfers and quarantine periods for any people crossing the boundary. Essentially, the plan would be for no-one to come in or out, after the initial influx of the vulnerable.
Vulnerable people would be provided assistance should they wish to relocate to these proposed safe havens. It is anticipated that a lot or people would move in.
It would be the responsibility of isolated communities/localities to strictly police their own borders. This policing would be well understood and accepted by the people in the area since it is for the cause of protecting many vulnerable people.
3.2.2 Hospital Level Isolation
Some hospitals would be declared Covid-Free Hospitals. Perhaps most hospitals. They would not treat any Covid-19 patients and would be safe places for vulnerable medical staff to perform their duties.
The hospitals would be well sign-posted to warn off any people which are not certified Covid-Free. Strict protocols would be enacted to ensure that no infected member of the public was admitted. Protocols would be ramped up versions of those now in place.
Each member of the staff would have an isolation plan to be strictly followed. Each staff member would be a ‘protected person’ who displays the ‘No-Covid’ sign and has controlled living and travel arrangements.
Logically, these hospitals would best exist in protected towns or localities and would be there to provide risk free medical assistance to those in the Covid-free community. However, Covid-Free hospitals can exist throughout society.
There is a certain logic in that the plan would gather together people who are not well in safe communities with medical staff who are also at risk medically themselves.
At the same time, unprotected hospitals would be in operation in the unprotected community.
3.2.3 Institution Level Isolation
The most significant institutions in this category are ‘Old Folks’ Homes’.
There is a place in our community for Old Folks’ Homes which are completely locked down against the virus. Already, this level of isolation is in play for these institutions, though not effectively, going on the high rates of infection and death.
It would be prudent to create Old Folks’ Homes in Isolated Towns and Localities for those who wish that level of protection.
The implication of this measure is that there would be such institutions which did not need to comply with strict isolation rules. There is a huge injustice in the present system in which aged sufferers of Covid-19 are required to die without any of their family present because the family is not allowed to be with them due to the fact that they are infectious.
This absolutely abhorrent situation can be corrected under the two speed system which is proposed in the sustainable Covid-19 plan. Infected older people can be transferred to medical centres in the proposed uncontrolled general community, where they can be visited by their family at any time. The present system in which infected people are required to die without family at their side will be looked back upon as a form of societal madness.
One of the central ideas to the Sustainable Covid-19 Plan is that it is ‘Opt-in’ and ‘Opt-out’ so that it is the older person and the families choice as to whether to stay in a controlled covid-free environment or to take their chances in the uncontrolled environment, in fact in an uncontrolled institution.
It might not be common knowledge that the quality of life for older people can be very poor, especially in cases of dementia and many live longer than they would wish to. It seems absurd to unnecessarily prolong the life of an older person if they would prefer to opt out of the controlled environment, particularly if they face the prospect of dying without family by their side.
Schools and Universities are institutions which can be operated as isolated environments with strict controls or could choose to relax isolation measures.
In the case of schools, we know that young children are resistant to the virus but that they cross infect each other freely. It is likely that the only way to have a Covid-Free school would be to exercise strict controls. Each attendee would be required to live in the protected or controlled community.
3.2.4 Household Level Isolation
For many people it will not be practical to move to an isolated community, so they will isolate in their own homes. They would display the No-Covid sign on their front gate.
It would be illegal for anyone which is not qualified as Covid-Free to approach the home.
Such homes would receive food in a ‘contactless’ manner, delivered to their door, by a certified, Covid-free delivery service. This service would be government funded, and would be a stimulus to the economy.
When a household has one ‘certified’ person at-risk person, all of the members of the household would need to live as isolated members of the community.
The government would have to spend significant resources to properly care for people isolated in their homes; however, every dollar spent is stimulus.
This raises the issue of what to do with households in which one or more people have a job for which they must leave the house each day. It would be necessary to arrange work places to have Covid-Free zones where at all possible. This would need to be worked out, but the problem is not insurmountable.
3.2.5 Personal Isolation
The final level of isolation is for the individual who chooses to operate in the normal Covid-infected world.
The vulnerable should not be put in the position where they have to take the risk of infection, however, they would be free to choose the risk.
The vulnerable would wear the badge.
The community would treat the vulnerable with huge respect. Laws can be passed to ensure that respect if necessary. Social isolation would be strictly followed.
The vulnerable could wear the full kit of PPE if they so desired. All the Personal Protective Equipment including gown, gloves, face mask and shield.
Supermarkets and hardware stores could be arranged to allow shopping by at-risk people on particular days of the week or particular times of the day. In some cases it might be possible to open up specific outlets as Covid-free environments.
4) The Uncontrolled Community
The uncontrolled community will operate without any of the lockdowns, border closures or travel restrictions which are now prevalent.
The uncontrolled community is likely to be 80% to 90% of the total economy and in this zone, people would operate on a ‘business as usual’ basis.
4.1 Transitioning to an Uncontrolled Community
At the present time, the economy is badly damaged, there are a lot of heavy-handed government interventions to reduce the progress of the virus and the community lives in considerable fear of the virus. The worst aspect of this is that there is no end in sight.
The media has up till now conditioned society to be fearful of the virus. This may not be a conscious policy, but it is effectively what’s happening. All deaths are reported, however there is no report about the health of those who have recovered. It would be sensible to keep the community informed about case numbers, recoveries, periods of sickness, any tips people may have about the experience.
This is how the experience of Covid-19 was described by a Spanish-speaking employee in Peru:
“These symptoms weren’t the worst I had felt, I feel just a little tired, with very few coughs, only the temperature was what I had to keep in control, but for the rest everything is normal.”
4.1.2 Immunity and the Development of a Vaccine
We hear that there is considerable progress in vaccine development, but that it is unlikely to influence the current situation for at least 12 months. Vaccines have to engender a suitably robust antibody response which does not just sensitise the body to the virus and make the reaction worse when infected with the real thing.
There is considerable misinformation about this matter. It is said that the virus does not induce a strong antibody response and the medical establishment is taking the view that having survived the virus does not make the survivor immune or even ‘not infectious’. This is an extremely ‘safe’ attitude because no medical practitioner has to take responsibility for any survivor becoming reinfected or infecting others, but it is extremely impractical.
Consider the following. Medical staff who have survived the virus and who are back at work should be able to attend to Covid-19 patients without PPE or concern for their health or the health of the patients. How can this ‘unprofessional and unqualified assertion be correct?
Simply, since both have been diagnosed to have suffered from the virus, neither can catch it from the other, cross-infection does not matter. Meanwhile, the medical staff in question have already demonstrated a life and health-saving immune response, and have therefore confirmed the low risk of their involvement with Covid-19 patients.
In reality, the author asserts, survivors are immune to the virus, since the virus though novel is one of a class of common viruses to which mankind has been able to become immune. The human immune response is amazingly complex and amazingly competent. The human body apparently has the ability to remember attack from billions of different viruses, bacteria and fungus.
It is also said that people can catch the virus a second time, though symptomless and can in a sense be a carrier. This only emphasises the futility of the current isolation and repression regimes.
From the author’s point of view, I have immunity to Polio thanks to vaccination; I have immunity to Measles and Mumps through having had the diseases. I have immunity to Epstein-Barr since I have survived Mononucleosis as a child. I have immunity to Chicken Pox through having survived the illness. I have immunity to Yellow Fever through a single injection that will last a lifetime. I have immunity to Ross River Fever though I was asymptomatic, through exposure to the virus. I have immunity to every cold and Influenza I have ever been exposed to, because my body is healthy and remembers.
The idea, promoted by the media, that the virus is highly dangerous to all of society and that it is worth destroying people’s lives in other ways to protect us all from it is a distortion of reality.
The transition of the majority of the community to an uncontrolled status will require some undoing of the fear mongering which has so many well-behaved and compliant citizens carrying out daily hygiene rituals which have not actually been shown to be effective.
The sentiment behind the Sustainable Covid-19 Plan is that it will allow us to live with the virus while protecting the vulnerable in a responsible manner. It is not primarily so that we can achieve ‘Herd Immunity’, though it is likely that a level of immunity will emerge.
4.2 Economic Benefits of the Uncontrolled Community
At this point in time, Australia has less than 550 deaths, and possibly 200 people in intensive care due to Covid19 and the economy is in terrible trouble. The media and people in general have a tendency to speak of the unemployed as a group but do not consider the people as individuals.
Any empathetic close examination of real people will show that people, particularly unemployed single parents, are at their wits’ end. Promises of $1500 grants are nice, but they take time to get; there is no imminent actual help for those who are the victims of the present uncoordinated government actions.
The government sounds very righteous and it blames Covid-19 for the crisis, when actually the crisis is almost completely due to government actions. The impact of Social Isolation policies has severely damaged the restaurant, hospitality, tourism and travel economy. Now in Melbourne, they are badly damaging manufacturing and construction. This action can be seen as very irresponsible and can be seen to NOT affect people equally. We were never ‘All in this together’.
The actions are not dissimilar to the live cattle trade shutdown brought on by the Gillard government. The action was done glibly and done for politically-correct reasons. There were much better actions available to the government at the time to address the problem. The government showed complete disrespect for the lives of the people involved in that business and a distinct lack of imagination. A recent court action has shown it was illegal and that is not surprising.
The shutdown of the live cattle trade with Indonesia was disrespectful to our neighbour, Indonesia, the industry, to the businesses and the people and families who draw their livelihood from it. A similar unfortunate incident was also almost carried out by the Liberal NSW State government in attempting to shut down the greyhound racing industry. I would have expected better. The lack of empathy involved leaves me (almost) speechless.
It is the view of the author that it is a golden rule of government that they should never interfere with the livelihoods of the citizens of this country. It is a fundamental right to be allowed to conduct a legitimate business in peace and without government interference. The fact is that there are ways to achieve the objective of protecting the vulnerable people in our society from a pandemic without shutting down selected parts of the economy. It simply requires some imagination and some nerve. Let’s say, it requires some leadership.
Already any observer can see in the events in Melbourne that people choose to keep their livelihood over what others argue is the common good. Workers, especially casual workers, do not stop going to work just because they have some minor symptoms. They do not stop home from work just because they have been tested, and the government is being very impractical in thinking that they will.
It is inevitable that the society will continue in the direction of becoming an uncontrolled covid environment despite harsher and harsher attempts by government to make people behave. The longer it goes on, the more society will tend toward anarchy and the more the economic order will be destroyed. In fact, the present situation is unsustainable. We need a sustainable Covid Plan.
4.3 Elimination, Eradication and Suppression
The present environment in Australia is that the whole country is being treated as a controlled environment and that therefore no one should be infected with the virus. In the proposed ‘two speed’ system, it is true that there should be absolutely no infections in the controlled environments. However, at the present time, Australia is a mixed environment where the vulnerable are being given a very ordinary level of protection while the whole community is being inconvenienced.
There is much talk about the suppression of the Covid-19 virus. The rhetoric of the authorities is that infections must be suppressed to avoid overloading the medical system. The authorities deny that they are trying to eliminate the virus, however, the rhetoric is the rhetoric of elimination.
Every infection is taken as bad news and as a failure to control the outbreak. New infections are taken very seriously and are taken as justification for further draconian measures. It is taken that infection is bad, and ipso facto, we must take drastic action.
The Sustainable Covid Plan proposes a controlled environment for the vulnerable and in these environments, the virus must be eliminated. The plan also proposes an uncontrolled environment and it is in this environment that the virus should be suppressed.
Here is a suggestion about what suppression might look like. Based on say 2000 ICU beds, the government could set a maximum level of 1500 Covid-19 ICU cases. When the number of people in IC reaches 1500, social distancing would be increased in the uncontrolled environment, when it decreases to 1000, social distancing would be relaxed.
Under the design of the Sustainable Covid Plan, a least 90% of the vulnerable are well protected, so relatively few serious cases would develop in the uncontrolled environment.
Of course, the virus would progress throughout the community as people go about the business of living.
Since the largest unit of isolation, the largest unit of controlled environment is a locality, there would be no closing of state borders.
In the event that anyone is detected to be infected with Covid-19 in a controlled zone, then full contact tracing and the isolation of the infected would be mandatory. They would be removed from the controlled environment until they have recovered and are proven to not be infectious.
So it can be seen that the Sustainable Covid Plan has within it an enhanced ability to enforce strict isolation, much more so than in the current loose arrangement. At the same time it caters for those who wish to live with the virus in the general uncontrolled environment.
4.4 Covid-19 Tests, Nucleic Acid or Antibody
Nucleic acid tests are for a controlled environment where any Covid-19 infection is a threat. The Nucleic Acid test is an almost real time test which detects the presence of a viral infection by reacting with the specific RNA of this particular virus. Real time information is necessary for control, it’s a basic in the world of process control.
Antibody tests are not real time; they provide essentially historical information. When the human body is invaded by a virus, white blood cells mount a defence, producing first Immunoglobulin M within 4 to 5 days of infection and then within 14 days or sooner, it is possible to detect Immunoglobulin G which is the long term memory which the human body holds as a defence against any recurrence of attack from the same antigen.
Since it takes some time for the antibodies Immunoglobulins M&G to emerge, the test is considered useless for detecting a new or current infection with Covid-19. Therefore the Antibody test is not preferred for controlled environments, but is posited as ideal for an uncontrolled population.
The antibody test is easy to use and can be conducted by a relatively unskilled operator. The following photograph is of a negative antibody test from the author of this document. The test takes only a few minutes to do, it requires a small drop of blood. The test is valid if the ‘C’ or Check line appears. A line appears at the M or G point depending upon antibodies detected.
The purpose of the antibody test is to see if you have already been exposed to the virus. This is useful information in an uncontrolled community.
Under the present regime in which the medical establishment is trying to eliminate the virus from Australia, there is no appetite for antibody tests. Such tests do not answer the question ‘Am I infectious now’. The only parameter of interest to medical people intent on elimination is ‘are you infectious’ and where did you catch the virus.
Under the present Australian medical regime in which the authorities are trying to make all of Australia a controlled environment, Covid-19 tests are conducted by medical staff with full PPE.
Under a future scenario in which the majority of people live in the uncontrolled environment, Covid-19 tests can be conducted without PPE and can be conducted by non-medical staff, because infection and antibodies are not a crisis.
4.4.1 International Travel
International travel into the uncontrolled community would neither be limited or controlled. Australia’s borders would be open.
The virus is already in the community and it is not a crisis.
Vulnerable people would need a good reason to travel and it would seem advisable to run separate flights for the vulnerable if they really must travel.
If overseas travellers need to interact with those who live in the protected community, they can do one of two things: either use video conferencing or undergo 14-day quarantine and then move into the protected environment.
5) Risk Analysis after Controls are put in place
The control measures will reduce the risks to levels ‘As Low as Reasonably Practicable’ as follows:
Such assessments are subjective, but they are a guide to how we should act.
5.1.1 Risk of Death
Clearly, if we properly protect the vulnerable, deaths from Covid-19 will be rare. Arguably, we are doing a terrible job of protecting the vulnerable up till now. This seems doable. There will be some people who were not known to be susceptible to the virus who could die prematurely, but we are talking about a significantly reduced number and hence greatly reduced probability compared to the present situation.
We can also point to a greater availability of medical resources to support the lives of anyone seriously sick from Covid-19 under this plan.
Consequence ~ Catastrophic (5)
Likelihood ~ rare (1)
Total score: 1, an acceptable risk
5.1.2 Risk of collapse of the medical system
The risk of the collapse of the medical system will remain real since the sustainable plan allows for a level of infection in society. Since 90% of the vulnerable have been protected, the risk is reduced to about 10% of what it otherwise might have been, and the medical system will cope. The consequences of the overwhelming of the medical system remain major; however, it is unlikely.
Consequence ~ Major (4)
Likelihood ~ unlikely (2)
Total score: 8, high
5.1.3 Risk of damage to business and hence society
The risk of damage to business and employment is greatly reduced. Unfortunately, there is already major damage. The consequence is major but further damage is unlikely. The plan itself would be a stimulus and 90% of society would be free to go about the business of their lives. The borders would be open and international travel would recover.
Consequence ~ Major (4)
Likelihood ~ unlikely (2)
Total score: 8, high
Using imagination and with a willingness to show leadership, it would be possible to manage the Covid-19 crisis successfully, without making it worse than it is by draconian government actions.
The Sustainable plan is just that, a plan that can continue on since it satisfies the risks and preserves the economy.
I would like all interested people to get on board with me on this so that we can attempt to bring some new thinking to government.
7) The Author
The author is a mechanical engineer and doctoral student, 67 years of age who has managed his family manufacturing business in Australia for the last 36 years. The business has 75 employees, many of whom have been with the business for many years.
The author thinks of himself as an unaligned political pragmatist and wants to approach this problem in a holistic manner. Politics tends to be driven by ideology, both left and right. It is better to look at each situation and see what it needs.
The author is very empathetic to the people of Australia for all the ways this crisis has caused them to suffer, and wishes above all else to bring that suffering to a speedy and satisfactory conclusion.
[Photo by Anna Shvets