Covid 19 and Risk

In my ever humble opinion, this is the best thing written in all the verbiage on this subject. As Churchill said – ‘experts should always be on tap, but never on top’.

OPINION

The lie at the heart of Australia’s de facto COVID-19 strategy is about to be exposed

Chris Uhlmann

Nine News Political Editor

July 7, 2021 — 5.30am

You wouldn’t rush to get a painkiller if you were warned the side effects included the chance of tarry bloody black stools, blood in your urine and potentially fatal liver damage.

Your enthusiasm would no doubt wane further, if you learnt a decade-long study found it was responsible for an average of 9566 hospitalisations and 20 deaths each year.

Yet that’s what an overdose of paracetamol can do, and you can buy it at any supermarket in Australia.

What if you knew that as many as 14,000 people died here every year from “iatrogenic harm”, which also caused some form of permanent disability in up to another 30,000 people.

You’d want to avoid that one. So, what is ”iatrogenic harm”? That would be people killed or maimed by their doctors and nurses.

The Quality in Australian Health Care study released in June1995 showed preventable deaths in hospitals were the third largest killer after heart disease and cancer.

It caused such a storm in the medical profession when it was released by then federal health minister Dr Carmen Lawrence that no minister has been game to do anything similar. Yet studies since show the frequency with which patients are being harmed in healthcare still hovers about the 10 to 12 per cent mark.

Of course, paracetamol relieves pain for millions and modern medicine cures vastly more people than it kills. So, we judge, on balance, the rewards of both outweigh the risks. This view permeates everything we do from driving cars to going to the beach.

Advising on the risks and benefits of treatments is the daily task of health professionals. Balancing risk and trying to determine the greatest good for the greatest number is, or should be, the aim of politicians. So why is it that, during a once-in-a-century pandemic, so many of them have lost their minds and rebased risk to zero?

The problem began, as it so often does, with outsourcing. Overwhelmed by the complexity of the pandemic, Australia’s political class wisely sought to tap expert medical advice. What wasn’t wise was proffering that advice as final and inviolable. This was gutless because making tough calls and accepting responsibility is the job of political leaders. It was also foolish because as anyone who has ever sought expert advice knows they often have vastly different views on how to solve the same problem. As the figures on iatrogenic harm show they can also get things badly wrong.

And so, state and territory chief health officers became the default rulers of the land and their collective wisdom added up to Australia adopting a de facto elimination strategy. Forget limiting the amount of death, COVID-19 became the only disease in history that no Australian is allowed to catch. And they wield fear as a tool of compliance in a way which any totalitarian would both recognise and admire. So successful have they been in engendering terror at the very idea of contracting COVID-19 that we now judge fully vaccinated elderly who catch the disease and suffer no ill effects as a tragedy rather than a triumph.

The success in suppressing the disease then led to the gold standard in risible expert advice: the two rulings on AstraZeneca made by the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation. This body took the narrowest possible view measuring the next-to-impossible chance of dying from COVID-19, in a largely COVID-free Australia, against the one in a million chance of dying from the vaccine; a risk that is orders of magnitude smaller than any trip to hospital.

That decision derailed the rollout. It signalled that the vaccine was unsafe for all, which restricted to a fragment of the population, the only jab manufactured in this country at a rate of a million doses a week.

The intervention by Queensland’s Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young was a piece of iatrogenic performance art. While we wait for her preferred vaccine, the doctor is happy to prescribe lockdowns which rob the young of education, income, opportunity and hope.

Soon enough, the great lie at the heart of Australia’s default COVID-19 elimination strategy will be exposed. The disease can’t be eliminated. So, maybe now would be a good time to stop talking about a pandemic and get people used to the idea that this is an endemic disease.

The inconvenient truth is that one day our international border will be reopened and disease will circulate here. Some people will catch it and some people will die. We should protect as many as we can but we can’t hide forever. Australia’s politicians need to take back control from the experts and weigh the idea of whether what we are doing now is simply prolonging the crisis, and the long-term harm.

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