Mick Mulvaney, adviser to former President Donald Trump, says he thinks the Covid lockdowns in America will go down in history as “one of the worst mistakes of the 21st century”. Lockdowns, masks, early treatment and the safety and efficacy of vaccines have been fiercely debated in the United States in the lead up to the November mid-term Congressional elections. It makes the silence in Australia on all these topics seem all the more deafening.
The cost of lockdowns has been ruinous everywhere they have been adopted. In Australia, the federal budget for this financial year committed $41 billion in direct economic support, bringing total support since the beginning of the pandemic to $291 billion. Yet that is only a fraction of the cost.
It doesn’t count support by state governments or the cost to individuals. The damage done was not just economic; it affected the physical and mental health of all Australians, particularly children, many of whom were locked out of schools for months.
The one country in the West that had the courage to buck the trend was Sweden, which kept its businesses and schools open throughout the pandemic. The result? It had no excess mortality and fewer deaths due to Covid than countries such as the UK, the US and much of Europe.
Lockdowns have been the subject of heated debate in the US, where Republican states such as Florida re-opened far earlier than Democrat states such as New York, without any more deaths than average. Yet in Australia, there has been hardly any debate about whether the cost of lockdown was worth the benefit.
It’s the same story with masks. The virus is spread in respiratory aerosols that are smaller than smoke particles and transmission is not prevented even by N95 masks because of the gaps between the mask and the face.
Yet masks are still imposed on planes, one of the safest internal environments thanks to high-efficiency particulate air filters, which capture 99.9 per cent of virus clusters. Research in October 2020 by the US Military Transportation Command showed no aerosol transmission occurred during 12-hour flights.
The greatest taboo concerns the safety and efficacy of treatments and vaccines. Australia’s Dr Thomas Borody pioneered the use of ivermectin to treat Covid, in combination with other drugs. It has been adopted in 27 countries and is now available over the counter, without prescription in New Hampshire in the US.
In Australia however, doctors have been banned since September last year from using Ivermectin to treat Covid, outside of clinical trials. Founder of the United Australia Party, Clive Palmer, at high risk of serious Covid due to his weight, was successfully treated with ivermectin – within a clinical trial – by Dr Thomas Borody, but most Australians are not so lucky.
As a result, the death rate from Covid has rocketed up this year to 306 per million, almost double that of Bangladesh which adopted ivermectin as a treatment in June 2020 and has a death rate of 174 per million. Indeed, the death rate per capita from Covid in Australia, in January, at the peak of the Omicron wave, was higher than that of India at the peak of the Delta wave.
Questioning the efficacy and safety of vaccines is also off-limits in Australia. It is impossible to tell, from the statistics provided, the death rate from Covid, and the all-cause mortality rate of the vaccinated compared with the unvaccinated. The mere fact that the statistics are not available is disturbing.
It is true that the minor parties on the right – and a handful of Liberal senators – have valiantly raised questions about all these issues but their contributions have been almost entirely excluded from the talking points of the major parties and denied coverage on mainstream media.
As a result, what we have just gone through is a Potemkin election campaign, like the fake villages that Grigori Potemkin constructed to persuade his beloved empress, Catherine the Great of Russia, of the prosperity of her subjects.
Our election was real in the sense that Australians were casting valid votes, but the outcome cannot change policies on vital issues because of a consensus of silence on all aspects of the pandemic. The only hope of progress on these areas is if Republicans win control of the Congress and Senate in the US. It is a very sorry comment on the state of politics in Australia.