9 July 2021

Longer lockdowns needed to crush COVID-19, says ANU study

| Ian Bushnell
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Sign warning Canberrans about new mask requirements

An ACT Government message to Canberrans about wearing a mask. Photo: Region Media.

Government should go hard and long to get the best value out of COVID-19 lockdowns, according to a new study from the Australian National University.

Research just published by a team of modellers, economists and public health experts from the ANU Crawford School of Public Policy, ANU National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health and the University of Melbourne highlights the hazards of relaxing before zero community transmission is likely.

Lead author Professor Quentin Grafton said the net benefits of lockdowns that were sufficiently long enough to get community transmission to zero far outweigh any short-term gains of relaxing lockdowns too soon.

“Our key insight was that lockdowns need to be long enough to crush the virus, and that effective, longer lockdowns benefit both public health and the economy,” Professor Grafton said.

He said the NSW Government was facing a crunch decision over extending its two-week lockdown of Greater Sydney.

“The NSW Government is under pressure to relax those restrictions, but decisions must be based on the facts on the ground such as the number of new cases, links to known chains of transmission, and the number of new cases not already in self-isolation,” he said.

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University of Melbourne Professor Tom Kompas said governments needed to rethink how COVID-19 outbreaks are managed.

“We’re a long way from a post-COVID world. If we think we can do away with periods of movement restrictions when uncontrolled outbreaks occur, we need to think again,” Professor Kompas said.

“The key point here is not to think about the economic costs over a period of a couple of weeks, large as they are, but rather to consider the costs over a period of months if community transmission continues.”

The paper also looked at the public health and economic questions facing Australia and evaluated the costs and benefits of restrictions that result in zero community transmission of COVID-19.

Professor Grafton said the results supported strategies that go hard against COVID-19 infections and get to zero community transmission.

“This is especially the case now with this Delta variant and Australia’s currently low vaccination level,” Professor Grafton said.

“To ensure compliance and to help those who are doing it tough, we need sufficient levels of financial support for the people who are most affected by lockdowns,” he said.

Epidemiological modelling of the health and economic effects of COVID-19 control in Australia’s second wave was published in the Journal of Public Health.

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HiddenDragon6:30 pm 07 Jul 21

The paper also touches on suppression, which is just as well – elimination has run into reality in south-western Sydney and unpalatable as that may seem to many, it’s the more likely future.

One of the more confronting aspects of doubling down on the elimination approach apparently preferred by the authors is that it would be a very good way of killing off much of what is left of the small businesses which employ a lot of students, including all those overseas students who universities are desperate to get back into the country in very large numbers. These businesses have thus far been treated as human shields by Australian governments, often under the brazenly dishonest claim that “we’re all in this together”, and keeping them alive would take far more support than is now on offer – funding for that might mean some serious sacrifices for people who have thus far been financially untouched by the response to the virus.

You can go into a complete lockdown for a week, a month, a year or ten years but you cannot hide from a virus forever. After coming out of any period of lockdown you will be exposed to a flu like virus from someone who has had it already and got over it. Maybe a local. Maybe a visiting foreigner. Even those who cower behind masks or under their beds or behind castle walls will eventually have to come out.. The longer you hide, the more isolated you are and the less immunity you have. Just ask the Aztecs and the Incas or anyine else from a population that fails to gain natural or vaccinated immunity from a disease that will find a way through masks, borders and castle walls.

I just wish people would shut up about their possible overseas trips. Holiday here instead and save some lives.

“”the hazards of relaxing before zero community transmission is likely.””
So do they wish us to continue living the way we do now, until zero community transmission is likely.??

In 2019 Influenza caused 705 deaths in Australia, with 10 of those happening here in the ACT. Yet life went on. No border closures, masks, footballers hiding under beds.

We need a way out of this and quick. SA won’t allow me in because we are wearing masks due to Sydney goings on. But we have no cases ?

Our puritanical health medicos need to bite the bullet and realise that ,like their dealing with influenza, life has to go on.

We have given too much power to the nanny state and now the chief nannies think we need to be protected from sniffles.

And most people won’t read past the headline here to see how it is taken out of context for a far more complex set of modelling outcomes.

Outcomes that have clear limitations for the claims made around lockdowns, particularly for longer term economic outcomes and when considering an ever increasing vaccinated population, especially so in the high risk categories.

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