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Dr Theo Aroney’s prescription on how to prevent another Covid lockdown

Peter Switzer
28 June 2021

It always worried me when fans of conservative politics regularly held up the New South Wales Government for having the “gold standard” processes for beating the Coronavirus.

It seemed to me there was always going to be a risk of playing the virus with a business-conscious approach.

Mind you, I take my hat off to Gladys Berejiklian and her team for trying this approach, which has netted better economic dividends for business and employees compared to more scaredy-cat states, who have just closed borders, ruined businesses and took away jobs.

Western Australia was lucky as the mining boom has given that state the income to ride out the huge economic threat from Covid-19. On the other hand, Queensland has looked after people with its ‘shut-the-shop’ approach but tourism businesses have been decimated.

Our Glad and Brad (Hazzard) have gambled and largely won, but this Bondi breakout has underlined that there have been problems not detected by their risk management team.

And it’s not just their risk management team. It’s also been a failing of the Federal government. But even there, it’s not all their fault.

Primarily, the lack of vaccinations has left us exposed and the clot problems with AstraZeneca partly explains why a lot of us aren’t vaccinated. But here again, the Federal government’s actual vaccination rollout was a problem that only the Federal Health Minister can take responsibility for.

How do I know this? While I’m not qualified to talk about this, Dr Theo Aroney is. This is what he sent me over the weekend.

Dear Peter

Eight weeks ago, I raised concerns with you that there was a severe problem regarding COVID vaccination distribution (not supply). At the time, most medical practices were being given only 50 doses per week, REGARDLESS of the size of the medical practice patient base.

For example, my practice has approximately 4,000 patients aged over 70. I felt that 50 doses per week was not only unreasonable, but seriously questioned the logic of the decision makers.

When I repeatedly requested an increase in this dose allocation, my concerns were met with much resistance (to worsen my frustration, many smaller practices were given an allocation of up to 400 doses per week).

Rather than correcting this distribution problem, the decision makers in their wisdom decided to extend the roll out to include healthy people aged under 70.  In frustration, I was forced to go to the media. I believe that these same decision makers are still making the calls, hence ongoing lockdowns continue. 

Philosophically, I would like to think that we can learn from this.

Here are a few ideas:

First would be to employ new decision makers.

Second, I would correct the distribution problems by directing these valuable vaccines to where they are needed.

All below categories would need to be vaccinated immediately (must be compulsory for potential super spreaders). 

Priority would be in this order:

1. All front-line workers in direct contact with overseas arrivals e.g. limo drivers, security, cleaners, health, quarantine hotel staff.

2. All airline staff.

3. All medical staff associated with treating patients infected with COVID, as well as COVID screening clinic staff.

4. All aged care staff, residents and visitors (same rules as with FLU vaccination requirements).

5. General medical staff - doctors, nurses, receptionists etc.

6. Everyone aged over 70 years of age. They are most likely to create massive demand on ICU beds/ventilators if infected with COVID.

This vaccine rollout needs to be organised in a methodical and carefully thought out way. 

Potential super spreaders (anyone in direct contact with overseas arrivals, or treating COVID infected patients) who have NOT been vaccinated should be immediately stood down. Otherwise, lockdowns will undoubtably continue.

Those stood down could be offered the Pfizer vaccine. With Pfizer vaccination, full immunisation can be achieved quickly with two vaccines given 3 weeks apart.

I would like to think that something good could be learnt from this current lockdown.

Dr Theo Aroney

MBBS, FRACGP

Over the weekend, Brad Hazzard responded to embarrassing questions from the media by inferring that as journalists they didn’t have an idea about the big job he and others face. And he’s right, but he was the man along with other health ministers in charge of fighting this damn virus.

The failed handling of limo drivers and airline crews, who should have been vaccinated and/or under stricter protocols aimed at preventing a Bondi-style lockdown, gets down to the politicians who are paid to get it as right as they can. If it isn’t good enough, it is what it is. But I suspect if people like Dr Aroney had been listened to and even consulted, this latest lockdown could have been avoided.


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