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Choose your poison: death by vaccine or virus?

Peter Switzer
4 August 2021

Often we Aussies are laid back, but are we that easy going that we could cop 20 deaths a day, even with a 70% vaccination rate? And while these morbid numbers shock me, the international business consultancy, Accenture, says we could cop that amount!

Also shocking me is the realisation that even with higher and better vaccination rates, there will still be deaths from this virus. I guess the unvaccinated will supply the greater proportion of the numbers.

That’s some figuring that anti-vaxers will have to ponder.

Historically, economics is called the dismal science but this is the most dismal piece of economics I’ve delivered in over 30 years in the media. But for the moment, let’s just focus on the pure economic costs.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has shown us the Coronavirus costs via virus/vaccination equations and here they are:

  • 50% vaccinated = costs the economy $570 million a week
  • 60% vaccinated = $430 million a week
  • 70% vaccinated = $200 million a week
  • 80% vaccinated = $140 million a week

This is the total cost of lockdowns, restrictions, bankruptcies, job losses, government support and so on. The economic models of Treasury would’ve started with the economic expectations, say before the Delta variant came to town. And then what are the losses of growth, jobs, investment, etc. and outlays that now are needed because of this new viral shock to our economic system?

But that’s not the really dismal bit. This is the terrible thing: even with vaccinations, people will still die of Covid 19!

Professor Jodie McVernon of the Doherty Institute was reported in today’s AFR as saying that: “At 70 and 80 percent, the need for long, stringent measures across whole states or across extended areas will be substantially reduced…” However, experts like her also warn that we will have to accept what most of us would say looks like a lot of deaths.

Yesterday, Jennifer Hewitt in the AFR revealed that Accenture using global modelling that with 70% of us vaccinated, we could tolerate 20 deaths a day, along with 10,000 new cases a day!

That seems unbelievably high but these are numbers from a world that had huge, excessive deaths from the virus. Italy, for example, lost 128,000 of their country men and women!

We lost 925. And since March 2020, the number of Aussies lost to the virus was 1.6 per day on average. But how could we cop 20?

We won’t have to. This is an over-the-top figure from Accenture but it says it’s possible that we’d accept it, if this becomes the new reality of living with the virus for a few years.

Hewitt makes the point that before the Coronavirus, eight Aussies died a day from influenza and pneumonia and there were no restrictions and no daily news coverage. Therefore it’s likely that we’ll learn to live with it.

The world is changing because of the Coronavirus, as we saw last night with New York City now insisting that people show their vaccine passport before getting into gyms, restaurants and Broadway shows.

What we’re seeing is an enormous tug-o-war between the fear of death and economics, and the latter is forcing all of us to become gamblers. We’re betting we won’t get clots from AstraZeneca. And if you do get a clot, the punt is that you won’t die from it!

And then there is the gamble of “I don’t get vaccinated and I don’t catch the Coronavirus and die from it or have a long-lasting lung problem”!

This whole Covid-19 experience has cast a lot of light on many gambles we’ve been taking, such as being one of the three people who die in road accidents each day, or the 51 who die of a heart condition every day. And what about the flu which took 705 Aussies between January and September 2019!

The Coronavirus was so contagious and deathly, as we saw in the US and Europe, that it led to lockdowns worldwide. And the economic reality of the once unthinkable will change our attitude to gambling on death forever.

And when the unvaccinated are barred from doing what the vaccinated can do, we’ll see even more bets against the grim reaper!


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