As I write this article, half of Australia are in lockdown, which is approximately 12 million people. Hopefully, what I’m about to say will bring some calm and common sense to this crisis affecting so many people’s lives in our Australian community.
n New South Wales alone, it has become a communal habit at 11 am to listen to the “Gladys sweepstakes” on radio or television. We anxiously await the daily case numbers and continue to hear inflammatory language such as surging cases, the deadly virus etc., etc.
But, we must ask ourselves the question: are the cases really surging? Over the past week the number of cases that have been reported in the community not isolating are fewer than 30, on a daily basis. This is staying steady with no exponential increase that would justify fear & concern. Clearly not a surge! Today, Sunday (whilst I write this article) the New South Wales government website states that there are 417 exposure locations. When you consider that only 27 cases are circulating in the community today this does not suggest a particularly contagious respiratory virus. I would have thought that if there were so many exposure sites and the virus was that contagious, we would be having many more cases than around the steady 30 in the community on a daily basis.
The reality is that since the outbreak began on June 16, we have had 1242 cases of which, four people have died. Two of the deaths were people in their 90s, one in their 80s and one in their 70s. Although we were told that the first person who died at age 91 was unvaccinated, we have no further details about the other three cases including the existence of any co-morbid conditions.
This translates to a 0.35% mortality rate compared with a 0.1% mortality rate with standard influenza and a 3% mortality rate with the initial Wuhan strain with 20% of the initial strain being severe. With 76 cases in hospital and 18 in intensive care this translates to only 6% of the current cases being severe.
With such rigid lockdowns in New South Wales with the numbers I quoted above, I ask the question, why don’t we have such severe lockdowns every year during the influenza season? Clearly the Delta strain is somewhat more contagious but much less virulent than the initial Wuhan strain. This means it is much less likely to cause severe disease, which is clearly the case.
So these are the clear facts around the coronavirus:
Firstly, all respiratory infections are much more prominent during cold weather and because of our very temperate climate in Australia, we saw almost no cases during the warmer months, making us all complacent.
No one would suggest that the vaccine rollout by the government has been ideal but also our complacency has made us think that being vaccinated wasn’t a priority despite the fact that when this became available we were starting to enter the colder months.
Secondly, I heard today our health officer inferring we should be wearing masks outside. Although I believe Dr Chant has done an extraordinary job in NSW during the pandemic & doesn’t appear to have had a day off, I must disagree with her on this one. There have been no cases of coronavirus transmission from outdoor contact such as being outdoors, apart from the recent Melbourne cases at the MCG-an enclosed environment. It takes the virus 18 hours to reach half its strength indoors with a temperature of 20 degrees Celsius. Outdoors in the sun, the half-life of the virus is around one minute. Being outdoors & exercise are vitally important & masks are unnecessary in this setting.
Thirdly, this particular coronavirus appears to have a significant predilection to affect people with co-morbid conditions or the very sick, vulnerable elderly population. Although a significant number of older people are now vaccinated, it is important to point out that the virus is now affecting younger people but especially those with metabolic syndrome.
Metabolic syndrome stems directly from insulin resistance, a gene which affects 30% of Caucasians, 50% of Asians and close to 100% of people with darker or olive skin. Metabolic syndrome is defined as the presence of two or more of the following
1) Diabetes or prediabetes
3) Cholesterol abnormalities with elevated triglycerides and low HDL
4) Abdominal obesity
5) Increased risk for cardiovascular disease, fatty liver, gout and many of the obesity related cancers.
Unfortunately, we are not being given the data as to which young people are experiencing severe COVID at present but I suspect the vast majority of these people have some manifestation of metabolic syndrome and, in particular, obesity. So, if you are that concerned about your health, improve your lifestyle & in particular, lose weight.
Fourthly, during the Newmarch house COVID outbreak in April 2020 there were 19 deaths with infections affecting 34 staff and 37 residents. During the recent outbreak in the Summit care nursing home in Baulkham Hills there were five positive COVID cases in the residents but none of these developed significant illnesses despite being COVID positive. So, what is the difference?
You all know the answer and that is vaccination. As I continually repeat, the only way out of our current mess is for us all to be vaccinated. If you are sick of this lockdown and I would suggest that there are not many of us who aren’t, get vaccinated as soon as humanly possible.