Comment 2020/04/10It seems that in my country, Australia, the social distancing, limitations on mobility, laws against many people coming together, mandatory quarantining of those who have contracted the virus, or have been exposed to the virus, etcetera, have got the disease under control (6,152 official cases, 93 new cases on 2020/04/09; that is 242 cases per million, 3.6 new cases per million).
On the other hand, the pandemic is rife in the USA (425,769 official cases, 33,331 new cases on 2020/04/09; that is 1,286 cases per million, 101 new cases per million).
Third world countries do not seem to have the ability to either control the spread of the disease or to test anywhere near all the people who might have contracted it; we just don't know what is happening there.
The wealth disparity has been increasing for many years.
Natural justice dictates that it must be ended at some point.
What will end it?
Serious international action? Revolution of some sort?
Will the pandemic and its after effects cause sufficient disruption, dissatisfaction and anger to force this change?
Will there be significant short-medium term changes in emissions due to the pandemic? Will long-term changes to society following the pandemic change the rate of greenhouse gas emissions?
I have written a comparison between our reaction to climate change and to Covid-19 on
another page. Climate change is a far greater disaster than the pandemic, but is getting far less action.
It is disadvantageous to any pathogen to kill its host; a virus particle in the dead host will probably be destroyed as the dead host rots, and a dead host is much less likely to pass on the genetic material of the virus than is a live host. So while there is evolutionary pressure for increased contagiousness (and by late 2020 a variant of the virus that is more contagious has evolved), there is an evolutionary pressure for a pathogen to become less virulent over time. Evolution favours organisms that are able to pass on their genes to the next generation.
Whether the evolutionary pressure to kill less dominates any other evolutionary pressures is another matter.
A Russian vaccine that is being used publicly in that country has just been announced. It has been widely stated by many that there would be substantial risks in using the Russian vaccine because it had not been tested to the cautious Western medicine standards.
We make decisions based on relative risks and values all the time:
What are the factors that we need to consider in making a decision about a vaccine?
Other pages on this subjectWhat are the risks of fast-tracking a Covid-19 vaccine?; by Katrina Megget, 2020/07/13.
A COVID-19 vaccine needs the public’s trust – and it’s risky to cut corners on clinical trials, as Russia is; The Conversation, 2020/08/12, by Abram L. Wagner Research Assistant Professor of Epidemiology, University of Michigan.
At the present we only know of two of our friends who have contracted the virus. (More accurately, two of our friends in Wales who are recovering from a nasty infection that seems likely to be COVID-19; it hasn't been confirmed medically.) We have not heard of anybody in Crystal Brook or Clare, where we have properties, who have caught the virus.
Our recent pastMy wife and I took part in a wind farm sleep study at Flinders University in Adelaide from 2020/03/10 to 18. We were test subjects in this study and it involved close person-to-person contact between some the the technologists and ourselves. I have been informed that the in-house part of the study is being postponed for the foreseeable future. (The phrase 'foreseeable future' seems to be one that I'll be using quite a bit in this page.)
Adelaide is a city of over a million people. It seems unlikely that we will be going back there for quite a long while.
Our immediate familyWhile my wife and I are retired, the welfare of our children (who are working) and grandchildren (who have been going to school) have less control over their contact with other people.
Our son and his wife and daughter live in Adelaide. I believe that, in their work, they need not have much close contact with other people.
Our daughter, her husband and their two daughters live in Mandurah, Western Australia. I think our son-in-law does not need to have much contact with other people in his work, but our daughter, being a veterinarian will have to. Of course this is a concern to all of us.
|Bungala solar farm, completed|
We visited Bungala Solar Farm on our way north. It is, I believe, the biggest solar farm in Australia (275 MW?); we had previously seen it when it was under construction.
The region was terribly impacted by the drought and while this particular drought cannot be blamed on climate change climatologists have been telling us for years that drought is made more likely by climate change. On this visit to the Flinders Ranges we saw many gum trees that would probably have been a hundred or more years old killed by the drought.
This visit to the Flinders Ranges prompted me to write a page devoted to photos, observations, notes and memories on our many visits.
Willow Springs, 2020/03/27, morning
Wilpena, 2020/03/27, late afternoon
We expected the place to be quiet due to the pandemic, but were surprised by how quiet we found it. The store, and fuel bowsers, had closed at four rather than staying open until six, so we didn't refuel (we later saw someones who said that they would re-open on the following day).
The camping ground would normally be bustling with hundreds of campers at this time of year (I don't think 'hundreds' is an exaggeration), we saw about a half dozen caravans, some of which were probably kangaroo shooters (there was a big cool room).
We were told by one of the Wilpena staff that 'they would be shutting down' on 28th, although whether that applied to the camping ground, the cabin accommodation, the store or all was not clear. I would think that the store at least would have to remain open at some times for the permanent residents of the district.
|Bunyeroo and Wilpena Pound|
Bunyeroo and Brachina gorges, 2020/03/28
After another trip into Wilpena to refuel we took the southern turnoff toward Bunyeroo Gorge.
We left Wilpena about 0930 and didn't see another car until about 1200. That was the only car that we saw on the Bunyeroo road. We saw another four in the afternoon, all in or very near Brachina Gorge; we didn't see a single vehicle in the 20 or so kilometres of sealed road from the Brachina turnoff to the Willow Springs turnoff which we reached about 1330. So apart from the cars we saw in Wilpena, we saw a total of five in the four hours on what are normally well used roads; that is very unusual for Autumn in the Flinders Ranges.
We only saw one small area of surface water in Brachina Gorge and none in Bunyeroo. There is usually quite a bit of water in both gorges. We noticed one other area of open water to the east of Brachina Gorge. This, of course, was nothing to do with the pandemic but most likely a lot to do with climate change.
The state of the vegetation varied from fair to highly stressed, although in general better than in the Willow Springs area.
|Between Bunyeroo and Brachina gorges|
A 'stitch' of two photos. There is a small artefact of the stitching process in the bottom left corner
Photos taken by my Mavic Mini drone, 2020/03/28.
To Blinman, 2020/03/29
We drove the 100 kilometre round trip to Blinman in the afternoon. The hotel, cafe and mine-tour business were all closed. Nothing was open. We saw a few moving cars while we were in Blinman but we did not pass a single vehicle while driving to Blinman or returning.
The vegetation varied from terribly impacted by drought to in fair condition.
Thoughts, observations (well after leaving the Flinders Ranges)
It is too early to tell what is going to happen in third world nations that don't have the resources of first world nations; will the disease spread until the majority of the people have contracted it and developed immunity?
If this happens, while these nations might lose 5% or even more of their people to the virus, the remainder will be able to go on without having to socially isolate. They will be able to reopen their factories and businesses and get back to work while the world's first world nations will have to stay in 'shut-down', at least until a vaccine is widely available.
This could give third world nations a great economic advantage over first world nations. What a turn around!
Second thought; 2020/04/14As Australia is getting on top of the pandemic, we could start opening up our economy and society soon (but not to international travellers or perhaps commerce). It will be a different economy, with limited 'globalism'.
All speculation, of course.
In my state, South Australia, cases had fallen from a peak of around 30 a day to an average of one a day over the last week, there had been four deaths and two people remained in intensive care; of a total of 438 cases, 411 had been confirmed to have recovered. Apart from one case in the far southeast of the state all active cases were in the greater metropolitan area of the state capital, Adelaide.
Yet when I posted a suggestion on Facebook that the restrictions could start to be slowly and cautiously removed most of the comments were against that action. (Most of my Facebook 'friends' live in the country districts where there were no active cases of the virus.) My impression was that an unjustified level of fear was making people over-cautious. The restrictions are causing damage to many businesses, many individuals have lost their jobs, many people are suffering financial stress and the younger generations are going to have huge government debts to pay off, but fear seems to be overriding concerns such as these.
Again I am reminded of the very different responses to the pandemic and the much greater threat of climate change. It seems that fear of an immediate personal threat, even an unjustified fear, is much more effective at getting action than concern about a huge global disaster that will reach its peak some decades in the future.
My wife, Denece Clarke, and I are retired. The 'shut down' has not made much difference to our lives. We cancelled a planned 3 week trip to NSW and had a few days in the Flinders Ranges early on instead, we haven't been able to eat out at all, and have had to use take-away coffee (in our keep-cups, not throw-away ones) rather than drinking at the coffee places. And we can't visit the grandkids. Like just about everyone we've avoided going places where we would be likely to encounter many others (but we didn't do that much anyway). We've been able to walk in parks. I've done as much at Gleeson Wetlands, Crystal Brook Central Park and Bowman Park as I would have done without the shutdown.
Many would have had very different experiences: those who lost their jobs, those in supermarkets etc. who've had a lot of contact with other people, those whose businesses have been shut down, those who've had to home-school their kids and, especially perhaps, those who work in the health services.
It would be interesting to know other people's experiences. I suppose that will come in time.
South Australia has recorded some community acquired cases, I believe the number is 22 to the present. As I write we are in a very strict lockdown that was to last six days, but as the outbreak seems to be under control the authorities have reduced that to three days; the lockdown will end midnight tomorrow night.
The source of the SA outbreak was a worker bringing the infection out into the community from a quarantine hotel. Australian citizens returning home from overseas have to quarantine in designated hotels for two weeks after arrival. As one would expect, a few of these people have brought the infection with them and, of course, workers in those hotels are at risk of infection.
There had been a very few cases in NSW in the last few weeks, but that, and all other states seem to have the pandemic fully under control.
The USA 2020/11/20An election for President was conducted on 2020/11/03. Wikipedia reported that Biden had won 306 electoral college votes to Trump's 232, yet Trump has not conceded defeat.
Getting back onto the subject of Covid-19, the USA has by far the greatest number of Covid cases of any country. Worldometers reports 57 million cases and 1.37 million deaths worldwide. The USA has passed 12 million cases and a quarter of a million deaths. The next country in cases is India with 9 million cases; the country following the USA in the most deaths is Brazil with 168 thousand.
Also as of 2020/11/20 Australia has had a total of 27,790 cases and 907 deaths.
So Australia has had 1,085 cases per million people, and 35 death per million, while the USA has had 36,385 cases per million and 779 deaths per million. So Australia has had about 3% as many cases per million as the USA and 4% as many deaths per million.
Several effective and safe vaccines have been produced and approved. Vaccination has started in the USA, the UK and probably other places. Vaccination has not yet started in Australia, largely because of the very low case numbers.
Worldometers varied greatly between countries.
It seems likely that different strains of the virus in different countries was likely to be an important factor is this great variation.
Closed casesOn 2020/04/28 Worldometers reported huge differences, and some very high figures, on the percentage of deaths among the closed cases. Cases were considered to be closed when the outcome was either 'recovered/discharged' or the victim had died.
The percentage of deaths among the 'closed cases'...
What could explain such huge differences in the percentages of deaths among the closed cases? Why the high levels in France, Italy and the USA, a significantly lower level in Spain and a much lower level in Germany. Australia could be considered a special case in this group as it has a relatively very low incidence of the pandemic.
At the time of writing there were 2 known active Covid-19 cases in my state, South Australia, with a total population of about 1.7 million. The known active cases should be, and most likely would be, self-isolating. There were none north of the greater Adelaide area; that is, none within 100km of me. In the last 15 days there was only one new case of the virus (acquired overseas).
We have been told that the App will record people who we have been in close contact with for 15 minutes or more. This would rule out people such as shop assistants who would make up the greatest number of the people most of us encounter. From a personal point of view, in the current situation when we are observing social distancing, the number of people I come into close contact with for 15 minutes or more over any particular week is very small (and I could remember who they were if needed).
I don't see justification in downloading and running the COVIDSafe App because of the far less than one in a million chance of it being of any value to me or to anyone else if I did so. It would be a different matter if there were many new cases of Covid-19 each day and new cases in my area.
Finally, my phone is an iPhone, which has been acknowledged to not interact well with the COVIDSafe app.
For much better informed facts and opinions than mine, see an article on The Conversation: How safe is COVIDSafe? What you should know about the app’s issues, and Bluetooth-related risks, 2020/05/07, by James Jin Kang, Lecturer, Computing and Security, Edith Cowan University and Paul Haskell-Dowland, Associate Dean (Computing and Security), Edith Cowan University.
Related pages on external sites...
News on the CORONA virusWorldometer; status of the pandemic worldwide
Worldometrer; COVID in Australia
Australian Broadcasting Corporation Coronavirus news
Australia's Special Broadcasting Service; Coronavirus information in your language
Related pages on this site...Climate change vs Covid-19; climate change is a far greater disaster than the pandemic, but is getting far less action.
More on the Flinders Ranges
On this page...Balance of risks
The COVIDSafe App
Evolution of the virus
Flinders Ranges observations and comments
Impact on climate changing emissions?
Lasting damage to the body from Covid-19 infections
Mortality: Percentages of deaths
Notes: 2020/03/27, Willow Springs, Flinders Ranges, South Australia
Risk side effects or not?
Roll of the authorities
Observation, 2020/05/04 Update 2020/08/13